Ethics Dunce: Alec Baldwin’s Employer, Whomever It May Be; Currently, This Means MSNBC President Phil Griffin

When MSNBC journalists attack!

When MSNBC journalists attack!

How is it that the old saw goes? “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me; Fool me 3,256 times, I’m an idiot”? Something like that.

Actor Alec Baldwin has proven by his actions and words, over and over again and beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is a foul-mouthed, hair-pin tempered bully with poor impulse control and the flattest of learning curves. I could list the impressive number of incidents that he has been involved in making that statement beyond debate, from a leaked phone voice message of him verbally abusing his daughter, to his tirade against a airplane stewardess who dared to ask him to abide by the rules of the air and stop playing a game on his Iphone, to obnoxious tweets that have led him to suspend his account more than once. Lately, his specialty has been hurling anti-gay slurs at photographers. Baldwin has been in the public eye for decades, and knows how celebrity works, but either doesn’t care, or can’t help himself. He has also paired his atrocious behavior with the outspoken progressive tirades and half-baked opinions of a man who is nowhere as smart as he seems to think he is.

The latter, of course, has saved his career from one way ticket to Mel Gibsonville. As gay conservative-turned-liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote after Baldwin’s latest fiasco,

“So many liberals, of course, give him a pass when they would never dream of doing so with anyone who was conservative or Republican. Even after his bigotry was on full display, MSNBC hired him for a new show as a liberal pundit….there is a glaring double standard here. It seems to me that this double standard cannot stand any more. And this raging, violent bigot cannot be defended any longer.”

You would think so, but experience, and even a brief perusal of the hiring policies at MSNBC, reveal otherwise. Baldwin was hired by the full-time conservative-bashing, race-baiting,  Obama-cheerleading network after all of the above referenced incidents, save the most recent one. This career advancement occurred despite Baldwin’s complete lack of journalistic or professional pundit experience, except for a brief stint on Al Gore’s sad liberal radio talk show station, during which Baldwin could charitably be said to have embarrassed himself while giving listeners fresh respect for what Rush Limbaugh and his kith do for three hours a day. What realistic chance was there that Baldwin’s atrocious character, which had defined his public persona throughout his long career, would suddenly go into remission because he was now hosting a news and public affairs show? None.

Then again, it is also beyond debate that MSNBC President Phil Griffin likes to hire unethical, unprofessional, uncivil jerks, as long as they can attract like-minded viewers. You want proof? Two words: Al Sharpton. Two more: Ed Schultz. What Griffin tolerates on his network, whose primary achievement is to make Fox News look like a paragon of objectivity by comparison, is truly horrific. For example, one of the network’s lesser lights (the really wacky MSNBC personalities are hidden in the non-prime time slots)  is the vicious Martin Bashir. He recently took offense at a typically incoherent Sarah Palin riff where she compared the obligations being transferred to the next generation as analogous to slavery. Okay, it is a lousy analogy, but nobody conscious would take that comparison literally, its meaning was clear (being burdened by crushing debt greatly constricts life choices and personal freedom) and this is  Palin, for God’s sake—Sarah saying things like this is as routine as Baldwin tweeting sentiments like

“…you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna fuck… you… up. I’d put my foot up your fucking ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.”

Bashir’s employer’s hired Baldwin after that, but here’s what Bashir said about Palin because her slavery analogy was hyperbolic:

“…One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750 and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation. What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime. In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby catched [sic] eating canes; had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, S-H-I-T in his mouth. This became known as Darby’s dose, a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of the slave owners savagery and inhumanity. And he mentions a similar incident again in 1756, this time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. Flogged Punch well and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper. Made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth. I could go on, but you get the point. When Mrs. Palin invoked slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms that if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate.”

You read that right—Mr. Bashir advocated shitting and pissing in Sarah Palin’s mouth as just punishment for registering an opinion that he disagrees with.

Stay classy, MSNBC.

Ah, but Sarah Palin fans don’t watch MNBC, and decent people who insist on civil, fair and responsible journalism don’t either. Thus, when Alec Baldwin, whose new show on the network has only had a couple of outings, was recorded calling a photographer who offended him a “cocksucking fag,” Phil Griffin suspended him. Mustn’t tick off those reliably progressive gay viewers, who were still, as Sullivan noted, prepared to embrace Naughty Alec despite his earlier brushes with verbal gay-hate.

Baldwin, similarly predictably, went on autopilot, which means that he said and tweeted one stupid and dishonest thing after another. He swore that he said “fathead” rather than “fag” (this is approximately as credible as a Samuel L. Jackson character calling someone a “poopyhead”) and said that nothing else in his epithet was homophobic, which meant that GLAAD had to explain to him, fast, the origin of the term “cocksucker.” In short, Baldwin was lying, which is not a good thing for a journalist to do, integrity and trustworthiness being primary qualifications (okay, stop laughing now) for the profession. The slurs and the lies brought a proper rebuke from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who is gay, professional, ethical by broadcast journalism standards, and doesn’t work for MSNBC.  Rachel Maddow on the other hand, who is also gay, and who comes closer to the standards of responsible and ethical journalism than anyone else on Griffin’s corrupt network, has yet to say a cross word about her gay-bashing colleague. Would she have skewered any conservative who had a similar outburst and defended it so nonsensically? As Sarah would, say, “You betcha!”

Now it is sounding as if Baldwin may not get his show back, when he should not have been offered one in the first place by any employer who does not want to publicly endorse and excuse the conduct of an inveterate, incurable, oh, let’s just say it…public asshole.  But this is MSNBC, where Bashir, Sharpton and Schultz are deemed professional journalists, and the only things Phil Griffin won’t tolerate are being objective, and making a progressive constituency angry. Honesty, integrity, civility and fairness are not priorities at MSNBC, if they matter to it at all.

  • you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna fuck… you… up.
  • I’d put my foot up your fucking ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.

– See more at:

  • you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna fuck… you… up.
  • I’d put my foot up your fucking ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.

– See more at:


Sources: Huffington Post 1,2,3,4Andrew Sullivan, Real Clear Politics

Graphic: New York Daily News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

12 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Alec Baldwin’s Employer, Whomever It May Be; Currently, This Means MSNBC President Phil Griffin

    • I actually thought Alec would last a little longer, because I thought he would be smart enough to lay low for at least a couple months. Boy, am I naive. I did win my bet that he wouldn’t really leave the country if Bush was re-elected, though, like he promised. Unfortunately.

  1. Please do not compare Alec Baldwin to Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz. I agree he should be fired. I did not think he should have been hired. Every news station has extremists. Fox has its fair share. He should be compared to Mel Gibson. Sarah Palin, Alec Baldwin, and Mel Gibson should go away now.

    • You’ll have to elaborate for me on why Alec should not be compared to those guys: all three say outrageous things and deny responsibility; all three are dishonest and untrustworthy; none of them belong on any news network, except as news subjects. “Every news station has extremists” is a rationalization (THE #1, in fact). And Baldwin is not an extremist, he’s a blow-hard. MSNBC arguably has nothing but extremists, and a couple of moderates (like Matthews) who have to pretend to be.

      If you are talking about the non-comparable, Palin and Gibson are an unmatched pair. He’s anti-Semitic and an actor (so his personal views don’t really matter); she’s a political leader, like it or not.

  2. For what it’s worth, although that particular pickling was almost certainly done to the whipped slaves out of malice because of its painful effect, that was actually a case of “double effect”. It was routine to do that even in non-malicious cases, like soldiers and sailors whipped as part of a disciplinary system considered ethical at the time (even if only in a “lesser evil” sense), because it made subsequent infection and possible death less likely. In fact, whipping began to be considered unethical as part of military discipline, eventually leading to it being phased out, when cases were noted of such unintended deaths even after just such pickling (by then, using what was basically a dilute form of modern household bleach).

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