(USA) Alec Baldwin - 60 Minutes Transcript
Alec Baldwin is angry and talking about the bruising legal and custody battle over their daughter, Ireland.
12 October 2008
On the Warpath
Reporter: Diane Sawyer
Producer: Claire Weinraub, ABC 20/20 (USA)
He's just won an Emmy for his TV show, 30 Rock. He's still making movies, still making money. Yet Hollywood star Alec Baldwin is a very disillusioned, very angry man.
So disillusioned, he lost the will to live.
So angry, well, you'll see that on Sunday night.
The reason? His bitter divorce from actress Kim Basinger, and the bruising custody battle over their daughter, Ireland.
Naturally, all the nasty publicity didn't help. But now, to get it all out of his system, Baldwin's written a tell-all book, his side of the saga.
And, as Diane Sawyer found, he has a new role, as a crusader, a spokesman for divorced dads.
Full transcript - Alec Baldwin On the Warpath:
DIANE SAWYER: It all begins with a love story. Baldwin, a major Hollywood actor, talented, volatile and with his brothers, famously dark and handsome.
ALEC BALDWIN: Look at me. I was young and thin and very hairy. What are you trying to say? Are you telling me you like hairy men?
DIANE SAWYER: She is actress Kim Basinger, whom he called - "maddeningly peculiar, exotic, lovely" with her publicly acknowledged shyness and panic attacks.
ALEC BALDWIN: I had a marriage that I came to in the same way everybody else comes to a marriage. We all take chances when we get married.
DIANE SAWYER: Their marriage inspired a 'Simpsons' spoof.
DIANE SAWYER: Two years after they married, the unquestioned love of his life was born, his daughter, Ireland.
ALEC BALDWIN: When I'm with her I'm happy. It's one of the only times in my life that I am happy, yeah.
DIANE SAWYER: When Ireland was just five years old the marriage began to unravel. So, the first early warning signal was?
ALEC BALDWIN: I'd rather not say.
DIANE SAWYER: Okay.
ALEC BALDWIN: I'm sure she would tell you ad nauseam. She might even be more chatty about the warning signals she saw in me, you know? The harshest thing I can say is - I was married to someone for whom all dissent was abuse. If you had your own opinion, you were abusive.
DIANE SAWYER: Did you just argue constantly?
ALEC BALDWIN: No. I don't think so. I don't think that I ever argued about anything that was insignificant. There was nothing that happened during my marriage that necessitated or allowed any of what followed after that.
DIANE SAWYER: What followed was an epic custody battle filled with accusation and anger. Eight years, 365 documents, 91 court proceedings, eight lawyers, four judges, and the cost - $3 million. You have said, "It's like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel road late at night."
ALEC BALDWIN: I was being kind. The lawyers are there to make money. It's an industry. It's a racket. The judges are like pit bosses in Vegas casinos. Their, their job is to make sure everybody stays at the table and keeps gambling. And I don't care if the judges and the lawyers die of heart attacks in the process of getting their job done. They are corrupt, inefficient, lazy, stupid. They're, they're the most God-awful people.
DIANE SAWYER: You have a really bitter, cynical view of the justice system.
ALEC BALDWIN: A bitter and cynical… makes me think that you're doubting what I'm saying. You think that doesn't happen?
DIANE SAWYER: No, I'm just saying that…
ALEC BALDWIN: That someone doesn't …
DIANE SAWYER: I'm just saying it's pretty scorched-earth, your view.
ALEC BALDWIN: I disagree with you. To me scorched-earth means you're looking for things that are negative. To me, this was thrust in my face.
DIANE SAWYER: Baldwin had made some headlines in the past over his anger. At one point, the court ordered anger management classes and Baldwin complied. Tell me about your anger.
ALEC BALDWIN: I think what happens.
DIANE SAWYER: In movie sets you've had them, in relationships.
ALEC BALDWIN: I think what happens is when it's happened, there's been someone there to tell it to the newspaper. That's how I feel, how I view.
DIANE SAWYER: Yeah. But you don't hear it about everybody.
ALEC BALDWIN: There's people who get protected from hearing about that. I mean, I hear people who are.
DIANE SAWYER: You think you're no angrier than everybody?
ALEC BALDWIN: Basically. Yeah, basically. I found the greatest form of anger management you can possibly find. I got divorced. Even your cameraman is laughing and nodding. I think, thank you, sir. Thank you.
DIANE SAWYER: Did you learn anything from the anger management sessions?
ALEC BALDWIN: Walk away. And I do that in my life all the time now. I have found some of your questions very frustrating while we've been doing this interview. And did you notice on three occasions I walked away? No, I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I walked away because it's so bloody hot in here.
DIANE SAWYER: Ireland would be eight years old when the judge finally awarded joint custody, Baldwin flying every other weekend, he says, across the US to spend his authorized time with her. The court even scheduled his phone calls. At one point, he rents a house nine doors away. But he says Ireland's mother was driving a wedge between him and his daughter, what has been called 'parental alienation'.
ALEC BALDWIN: There are women who get divorced in order to punish out of this bitter, bitter hatred, that some of these women have for their ex-husbands, they turn their children against them. Everybody knows that's real.
DIANE SAWYER: You write in the book that, at one point, Ireland says to you, "Mommy says we can all be together again if you go and get help. Mommy says you're sick."
ALEC BALDWIN: Mm-hmm.
DIANE SAWYER: What did you say to her?
ALEC BALDWIN: Nothing. I would write to my lawyer and told my lawyer, because I don't know if that was another element of the alienating situation.
DIANE SAWYER: Alec Baldwin says parental alienation syndrome is a national crisis and fathers who love their children are paying the price. At its worst, he says, it's a form of child abuse where one parent poisons the child's attachment to the other.
ALEC BALDWIN: Parental alienation and the way that that plays out now, and the way that bad decision-making has infected custody decisions in this country, is largely a woman-on-man crime.
DIANE SAWYER: And he says it's compounded by what he calls 'gender bias' in the court, where some male behaviour is characterised as abuse.
ALEC BALDWIN: Simultaneously, the court is less tolerant of violent behaviour and it is defining more of what is classically male behaviour as violent. And they're making it determinative of your child custody. So, if you and I are getting divorced and we argue, and I smash my cell phone in the driveway, I lose custody of my children. You got to catch the mother, like I said in the book, with a crack pipe in one hand, in bed with her pimp and the child chained to a radiator before they do anything.
DIANE SAWYER: At one point, off-camera, Baldwin said he thought my questions sounded biased, so we turned the camera back on. Do you think my questions are biased? Tell me if you do.
ALEC BALDWIN: Well, no, no. Not biased. But I mean, I think that, first of all, this is an incredibly difficult thing for me to do because I have no desire to take on feminist political forces in this country.
DIANE SAWYER: In his own case, after joint custody was awarded, he says his visitation rights were stopped because of a report that Ireland had said she felt unsafe around him, that she'd overheard an argument with his then girlfriend.
ALEC BALDWIN: I'm not sure that that wasn't coached. I had witnesses there who saw her, who testified that she was not upset at all, number one. And number two, it's, "unsafe" was not a word that was in her vocabulary at that time.
DIANE SAWYER: The court investigated, the charges were dismissed. Visitation resumed, and relative calm, as Baldwin began a new TV show, '30 Rock'
ALEC BALDWIN: And I thought to myself, "My God, this is gonna be a time of my life "that I can really enjoy my life." And one year went by, and then this phone call thing happened.
DIANE SAWYER: That blistering phone message he left for his daughter, Ireland.
PHONE RECORDING: This crap you pull on me with this phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly and over and over again. I am going to get on a plane and I am going to come out there for the day and I am going to straighten your ass out. It was made public a week after he left a voicemail.
ALEC BALDWIN: I've never done that before in my life, never. Believe me, if it had been a pattern, they would have played all those messages on the Internet.
DIANE SAWYER: He says that call was prompted by the fact that less than 25% of his court ordered calls were getting through.
ALEC BALDWIN: I called and called and called and called, and they, when the phone would automatically go to voicemail, you knew it wasn't even turned on. There wasn't even the, the pretense of them following the court order. I think after everything I've been through and this happened again, I snapped. PHONE RECORD: I'm going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, OK?
DIANE SAWYER: It is the sentence that seared its way around the airwaves, "What a rude little pig you are." "You are a rude, thoughtless little pig", OK.
ALEC BALDWIN: And?
DIANE SAWYER: How much do you flay yourself or how much do you forgive yourself for that sentence?
ALEC BALDWIN: I don't, I don't think about it anymore. You don't? Horrify you?
ALEC BALDWIN: I think it, it horrifies me. But, once again, you only know about it, it was left with the presumption of privacy.
DIANE SAWYER: Well, but, but if it was private or not, I mean.
ALEC BALDWIN: Why why?
DIANE SAWYER: I'm just asking about you.
ALEC BALDWIN: Why do you so reflexively dismiss that notion that way?
DIANE SAWYER: No, no.
ALEC BALDWIN: I mean I mean, you carelessly dismissed that notion
DIANE SAWYER: No, I don't carelessly dismiss it. I'm just saying, you, as a father, how do you feel about it? How about.
ALEC BALDWIN: I think that there are a myriad of both men and women who say things that are unfortunate and are mistakes to their children. I mean, I'll go to my grave knowing that it was amplified and its impact on her, you know, a billion fold by the fact that it was released on the Internet. Who does that?
DIANE SAWYER: In a statement, Basinger denied that she gave the tape to the gossip website TMZ and she added - her sincerest wishes for him to finally address his unstable and irrational behaviour so at some point he can potentially create a relationship with his daughter. Your ex-wife denies that she released it.
ALEC BALDWIN: Where would it have come from? You think my daughter has TMZ on speed-dial on her phone?
DIANE SAWYER: He says, in the wave of condemnation that followed, he was ashamed and so despairing, he offered to quit his new show.
ALEC BALDWIN: I used to pray to God every night. I would get in bed and I'd say - "Please, don't let me wake up in the morning." I thought, "I just can't do it anymore. I can't." I completely lost interest in my own life, truly, as a result of all of this.
DIANE SAWYER: "I began to think about what little town I would repair to in order to commit suicide."
ALEC BALDWIN: I thought, you know, well, "What would that do to my child if I killed myself?" Me, I really didn't care about me.
DIANE SAWYER: The 50-year-old Baldwin says he can't wait to stop being the tabloid target his profession makes him.
ALEC BALDWIN: I mean, I can't wait to get out of this business. I pray every day for that time when I'm done.
DIANE SAWYER: And most of all, he says, he dreams of closing the page on the battle with his ex-wife. Do you hate her?
ALEC BALDWIN: No. No. Not at all. You know, what's funny, I never think about that. I never think about her, I never think about the past.
DIANE SAWYER: What about Ireland, when she reads the book and, and you're accusing her mother of estranging her from you? How, how is she gonna feel about that?
ALEC BALDWIN: I think when my daughter becomes an adult, she'll be fully cognizant of the fact that she was estranged to me.
DIANE SAWYER: What have you said to her about the book and what's in it?
ALEC BALDWIN: I said to her - "I want you to know that I tried to be as fair as I could in the book and what's important is what I left out of the book." But everything with my daughter now is fine. Everything with my daughter is great so long as the mother stays out of the way.
He made some very relevant points, legal system revolving around wealth creation, parental alienation, children being used as weapons. However he is in a very, very bad place at the moment and is a good example of the attitude and behaviors that courts do not want to see. It was also interesting to see how little he spoke of his daughters needs.
No doubt much of what happened to him was "amplified" and taken at its worst context but I think he would have gotten a lot more support if he put his hand up and said I made some bad mistakes, I've addressed them and am now a better man for my daughters sake, etc.
I hope he doesn't become the divorced dads spokesman/crusaders. It's not a brush I would want to be painted with.
Dads can't be angry but Mums can
Men do need to be aware of how they present to and are received by others.
It is particularly important in courts re family matters (DV, child matters, etc) to present reasonably and maintain focus. In such cases and courts (compared to criminal matters) it is important to recognise that being 'right', and arguing on or about your principles, is typically not a winner. Instead one needs to focus on the children (not yourself and your hurts and 'rights'), have a plan that is coherent, reasonable, realistic and preferably in writing. Blokes need to come to grips with process and paperwork. (And spending time in courts, before your hearing, to see what happens and how to behave.)
In our current cultural and social climate strong negative emotion (aka anger) or focus on self-needs from men and fathers are viewed negatively.
Interestingly, similar emotions and expressions from women tend to be viewed more favourably and are even encouraged and relabeled as "expression" and "telling it like it is" - in a "you go grrl" sort of way.
With the climate of reward for being so adverserial or hostile towards the other parents its not hard to understand why so many parents chose this path.
Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
We need more like him, faults and all.
For my part, I have created the website on parental alienation as well as counselling many others over the years going through the nightmare of PA.
I understand that what I said may seem critical and perhaps a bit harsh.
As I said though he does makes some excellent points which I agree with… strongly. It is more about how he is coming across which then can make people think, is he saying it because he cares about his child or is he angry at his wife and I have found that this is critical in the court process.
Dad4life mentioned a very important point about what BALDWIN said about perception. For example, If a man raises his voice it is abuse and if a woman hits him over the head it is standing up for herself. True or not it is definately what a $olicitor tries to do.
Believe me I know all about parental alienation as I am in the middle of it RIGHT NOW. My ex has tried to cut down my childs time to 1 night and kept her from me for weeks at a time and tried to say I choose not to see her. She also puts her into child care instead of giving her time with me on my days off. My actions, intricate records and evidence presented to hearings have turned this around and she now has explaining to do.
The thing is that this is a long, painful and delicate process. A judge doesn't care about how I feel about it, they just want to know what is best for my child. It has been clear that everything I have done and am still doing is for my child but if it appeared that I was doing what I am because I am angry and resentful it would not help my childs cause.
I hope this makes my comments a bit clearer.