Most everyone agrees that Alec Baldwin went over the edge in his taped tirade to his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland. But what about the role played by his ex-wife, Kim Basinger?
“She is being held and charged with contempt for interfering with the child’s relationship with the father — 12 contempt citations. The judge has to act on those,” former prosecutor and judge Jeanine Pirro told Matt Lauer on TODAY.
Basinger’s role in the release of the taped telephone message has yet to be revealed. While Baldwin has very publicly apologized for what he said — he even offered to quit his role on NBC’s “30 Rock” — Basinger has given no interviews. Her only statements have been issued through a spokesman, who has said that she approved of the release of the tapes, but did not say whether she was the one who gave them to the celebrity Internet site, TMZ.com.
“Releasing the tape is much more harmful than what Alec said,” said Jeffrey Leving, a lawyer and divorced father who founded dadsrights.com to defend the custody rights of fathers.
“I’ve said things to my own daughter I regret,” he told Lauer. “If every dad in American lost his relationship with his child because he lost this temper, every dad in America would have no contact with his child. Releasing that information and putting the child in the middle of that conflict is outrageous, because we have to focus on the rights of that child.”
If the tape, which was also delivered to the court, was supposed to be sealed, Leving added, “as an attorney, I’d be seeking jail time” for Basinger.
TODAY has been flooded with e-mails about the ugly drama of domestic discord, with many correspondents — women as well as men — defending Baldwin.
“I'm sure everybody has had moments of saying stuff they regret, and if we went around taping everybody, every parent has probably had those moments,” Paria Hassouri, a mother, told NBC.
Baldwin v. Basinger
What makes this different, Lauer observed, is that it did not involve an anonymous family’s private affairs but a celebrity couple’s very public and very long-running divorce and custody fight.
Pirro said the courts have to step in and protect the innocent victims.
“You make sure that neither parent releases something like this because I’m not sure if it’s more harmful to her what Alec said to her, or whoever released the tape and the impact that now she’s being held up to public ridicule,” she said.
“She will never recover from what her father said, and so publicly,” clinical psychologist Judy Kuriansky said in a taped interview.
Live with Lauer, another clinical psychologist, Suzanne Braniecki, focused on the fact that the divorce and continuing war between the former spouses has consumed most of Ireland’s life.
“They both have a part in this,” she said. “The marriage ended in 2000. It’s 2007 now,” she said. “The marriage ended at a critical time in her life, between the ages of three and five. That’s a critical time for parenting and attachment issues.”
Pirro, the former judge, said the Los Angeles courts that are handling the case have to act. Baldwin’s outburst, prompted by Ireland not answering a scheduled phone call, did not come out of the blue, as he has said, adding that he was wrong to take it out on his daughter.
“If the issue is parental alienation, then what the court has to do is monitor it even closer to make sure the mother isn’t keeping this child from receiving or accepting the calls,” said Pirro.
Baldwin should seek help
It has so affected Baldwin that he said he “couldn’t care less” about continuing his acting career. His offer to quit “30 Rock,” he said, was made because he didn’t want the affair to harm the show and his fellow cast members. NBC asked him to stay.
He is also writing a book on alienation of children in divorce cases. Leving said if Baldwin were his client, he’d advise getting anger management counseling. The actor is known for his temper, which, his brother Billy has said, manifests itself only in matters deeply important to Alec, such as his family.
Meanwhile, the wheels of justice, engaged for seven years now, continue to grind slowly on as the battle continues.
“It affects the children every day and it affects the parents,” said Braniecki. “It’s an ongoing trauma.”