CBS: Alec Baldwin ‘Easy Target’ for ‘Conservative Junkyard Dog’ Sean Hannity

Still Shot of Morley Safer, May 11 On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes" anchor Morley Safer interviewed left-wing actor Alec Baldwin and spent some time focusing on Baldwin's liberal activism: "And yet it's his off-screen performances that can get in the way of a truly gifted man. And often it's his liberal politics that make him red meat for his critics." Baldwin explained to Safer: "They hate liberals who can throw a punch." And when Safer asked: "‘They’? Who's ‘they’?," Baldwin responded: "They, the vast right-wing conspiracy that's after me."

An admiring Safer described Baldwin’s activism this way: "Liberal politics has always been his passion...He has an impressive grasp of the issues and spends a huge amount of his time and money supporting causes he believes in: animal rights, the environment, the arts." Safer then went on to continue to portray Baldwin as a victim of the "right-wing conspiracy":

SAFER: But his bare-knuckled approach to political discourse...

BALDWIN: Not all Republicans are as insane as these extremist conservatives.

SAFER: ...has made him an easy target for conservative junkyard dogs like Sean Hannity.

SEAN HANNITY: He's unhinged. Let's be honest, he's not really bright.

Safer went on to describe further right-wing attacks on Baldwin: "And the right went wild when it was reported he said he'd move out of the country if George Bush were elected." Safer then described Balwin’s outrageous and offensive comments about conservatives as simply being "excessively eloquent": "Your eloquence, if that's the word, can get you into deep trouble... Well, or you make them perhaps excessively eloquent, as in your description of Dick Cheney, who you said was a sociopath and a terrorist, and you later apologized by just calling him a ‘lying, thieving, oil whore and a murderer of the US Constitution.’"

Despite this controversial material in Sunday’s interview, Friday’s CBS "Early Show" previewed the interview by only highlighting Safer’s questioning Baldwin about the controversial voicemail that the actor left his daughter last year. Also mentioned in Friday’s preview was Baldwin’s suggestion he may run for office: "There's no age limit on running for office to a degree. It's something I might do, one day."

Here is the full transcript of the interview:

7:37PM SEGMENT:

MORLEY SAFER: Acting is a funny business. You make a living being other people, from saintly heroes to serial killers, which may lead to a certain uncertainty about who it really is occupying your skin. One of America's finest actors is Alec Baldwin, who moves with equal ease from the stage to movies to television, from dark drama to slapstick buffoonery. And he's guilty of grand theft, he regularly steals scenes from leading men and women. Off the set, he's an incurable political junkie, giving and raising big money for causes he believes in. But for a man so smart, so generous, so talented, he sure can be dumb. It's his mouth that gets him into trouble. To the dismay of his friends and to the glee of his enemies, he says stuff that ranges from merely outrageous to over the top insulting. Love him or hate him, he's just about the freest spirit you'll find on the screen. You pretty early on made a conscience decision that you did not want to be a movie star.

ALEC BALDWIN: You have to want it more than anything else, and I didn't want it more than anything else.

SAFER: Alec Baldwin's star rose in the '80s with memorable turns in "Married to the Mob" and "Working Girl." And by 1990, true megastardom seemed ensured when he starred as Jack Ryan, the hero of "The Hunt For Red October," the first in a series of Tom Clancy thrillers. But when he was offered the next Jack Ryan role in "Patriot Games," he said no, and instead chose Broadway and "Streetcar Named Desire." Hollywood was not amused.

BALDWIN: They kind of look at you like, you know, 'We don't ask just anybody to do this.' You know? And when you don't do it, they are appalled. They think you're just -- you're a moron. And they went and got somebody else to do the movie.

SAFER: Harrison Ford.

BALDWIN: That's what they tell me, yeah, in the movies.

SAFER: Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan became a multi-billion dollar franchise, and the smart money thought Baldwin had blown it. But he claims he has no regrets. You said many of those action movies could be done by your doorman.

BALDWIN: Did I say that?

SAFER: Yeah, you did.

BALDWIN: How rude of you to bring that up, Morley.

SAFER: His decision to play Broadway brought him a reputation as talented but cantankerous. Things got worse when he starred with Kim Basinger in "The Marrying Man." They actually got married. Both the movie and the marriage was certified turkeys. Nevertheless, he managed to become one of the more interesting actors of his generation.

SAFER: In good movies and bad, his scenes have been memorable, like the evil surgeon in "Malice." Or his chilling sales manager in "Glengarry Glen Ross."

SAFER: Memorable speech in that.

BALDWIN: It's only one scene, yeah.

SAFER: But it's some scene, yes?

BALDWIN: The people who were doing the film were all actors I admired. So it was pretty rough.

SAFER: But it isn't just that cold-blooded menace that defines Baldwin, the actor.

SAFER: He's brought down the house on a dozen stints on "Saturday Night Live," where his slapstick send-ups of everyone from Robert De Niro to Tony Bennett.

SAFER: ...to a perverted scout master...

SAFER: ...have become cult classics. And yet it's his off-screen performances that can get in the way of a truly gifted man. And often it's his liberal politics that make him red meat for his critics.

BALDWIN: They hate liberals who can throw a punch.

SAFER: "They"? Who's "they"? Who's...

BALDWIN: They, the vast right-wing conspiracy that's after me.

SAFER: Liberal politics has always been his passion. He grew up in a working class family on Long Island, New York. He has an impressive grasp of the issues and spends a huge amount of his time and money supporting causes he believes in: animal rights, the environment, the arts. But his bare-knuckled approach to political discourse...

BALDWIN: Not all Republicans are as insane as these extremist conservatives.

SAFER: ...has made him an easy target for conservative junkyard dogs like Sean Hannity.

SEAN HANNITY: He's unhinged. Let's be honest, he's not really bright.

SAFER: And the right went wild when it was reported he said he'd move out of the country if George Bush were elected.

BALDWIN: I never said that. I said it might be a good time to leave the country. There's a big difference between that and promising to leave the country. And even if I did, who cares? What difference would that make in anybody's lives, you know?

SAFER: Your eloquence, if that's the word, can get you into deep trouble.

BALDWIN: I don't make the eloquent point so eloquently, is what you're saying?

SAFER: Well, or you make them perhaps excessively eloquent, as in your description of Dick Cheney, who you said was a sociopath and a terrorist, and you later apologized by just calling him a "lying, thieving, oil whore and a murderer of the US Constitution."

BALDWIN: You know, all of the cameramen are cracking up, so there is an audience out there. It may only be five or six men...

SAFER: One, two.

BALDWIN: ...who are union technicians in Manhattan, but I've got that crowd. I've got them.

SAFER: His passion, paired with a total inability to keep his mouth shut, has also made him a favorite target of the tabloids. He was dubbed the "bloviator" and was shown no mercy when his marriage unraveled. You described your ex-wife's lawyer as a 300-pound homunculus with a face like a clenched fist.

BALDWIN: I was being kind, Morley. That was being kind. You -- yeah.

SAFER: It's out there in the pantheon of abusive remarks, correct?

BALDWIN: Well, I think that people who treat someone the way I was treated during that case, you respond to them. I don't view that as abusive.

SAFER: He says that his divorce from Basinger was devastating and the custody fight over their daughter was brutal. It all took a physical toll on Baldwin.

BALDWIN: I didn't care how I looked, I didn't care if I didn't -- if I took care of myself or those things. I just couldn't be bothered.

SAFER: But the ravages of time and indifference have some positive side effects. He's become sought after to play characters who are not leads, but who add a certain authenticity, like his role as a casino boss in "The Cooler." "The Cooler" got him an Oscar nomination and led to more scene-stealing roles in films like "The Aviator" and "The Departed," both directed by Martin Scorsese.

MARTIN SCORSESE: He has an extraordinary ability to listen to the other actor. It's all going on in his face and in his eyes, and his extraordinary consummate timing. Whether it's a dramatic or comic, actually. I can't wait to work with him again. He's a damn good actor, who is -- who is dependable and who can really give you the goods.

SAFER: "Mr. Dependable" seems content with those smaller but meatier roles.

BALDWIN: Whenever I see a film of mine when I was young, I see someone who was far more vulnerable than I am now. Audiences want that. Johnny Depp seems like someone that needs to be taken care of, you know? Women want to reach out and they want to braid his hair or something. And when you convey to audiences a sense that you don't need to be taken care of, there's a whole other set of parts you're going to play.

SAFER: You also become a better actor or a more interesting actor?

BALDWIN: You have a shorter schedule on the film, that's for sure. I mean, you're in and out of there in four weeks.

SAFER: And it was his willingness to try anything that Tina Fey was after when casting her television comedy "30 Rock."

TINA FEY: Having worked at "Saturday Night Live," you see a lot of actors come through, a lot of movie stars, Academy Award winners who cannot do what he does.

SAFER: And once again, he's stealing the show.

FEY: The first season especially of doing this show with him, he made us all look better; and while we were learning from him, he was carrying us.

VANESSA WILLIAMS: And the Golden Globe goes to Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"!

SAFER: "30 Rock" has earned him critical raves and awards. But for all his recent success, the past year has been anything but blissful. He says the custody battle drove him to the edge. When he left an abusive voicemail message for his young daughter, it was leaked to the media and replayed incessantly on the Internet.

BALDWIN: I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old or 11 years old or that you're a child or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass. You have humiliated me for the last time.

SAFER: I've got to ask you about that notorious phone call you made. How could you do that?

BALDWIN: You get so frustrated. And you realize, number one -- and it's wrong, it's totally wrong -- that I was really speaking to somebody else when I left that message. I mean, I was pissed. I'd been putting up with this for six years.

SAFER: But you weren't talking to another person. You were talking to your daughter, to a kid. And you said, "You thoughtless little pig." I mean, I find it hard to utter the words.

BALDWIN: Did you ever lose your temper with your kids?

SAFER: Yeah, but nothing like that.

BALDWIN: If you're asking me do I feel bad about leaving that message, I think that goes without saying. At the same time, I'm pretty overwhelmed by the sanctimoniousness of people who say that, I mean, I got so many phone calls from people...

SAFER: Well...

BALDWIN: Wait a second, though. I got so many phone calls from people who seem as learned and sober and together as you are, who all said to me, 'Man, I'm glad they didn't tape some of the things I said to my kids.'

SAFER: As appalling as what you said may be, even more appalling was that it was released by someone.

BALDWIN: That tells you what I'm dealing with. But, you know, listen, you use words like "appalled" and you have, if I may say so, a pretty judgmental tone of me. I think that as truly sorry as I am that that happened, to me it only illustrates how difficult this process has become for many, many people.

SAFER: He is writing a book on divorce and parental alienation. He says he's trying to repair his relationship with his daughter and he maintains that acting is not his life.

BALDWIN: There's other things I want to do. I mean, in a matter of weeks I'm going to be 50, and I have other things...

SAFER: You're a young man.

BALDWIN: Well, by 60 Minutes correspondent terms, I am a young man. I mean, I'm getting pretty close to the "Law & Order" judge phase of my career, you know. 'All right, order. Everyone, order. Continue, counselor.'

SAFER: And at 50, he says he still hasn't given up his childhood dream of a role in politics.

BALDWIN: There's no age limit on running for office to a degree. It's something I might do, one day.

SAFER: If you think being an actor puts you under public scrutiny...

BALDWIN: If you go through the things I've gone through in the media, like this thing with my daughter, there's only one thing that comes to mind initially, that is how my daughter must have felt to have this played out in public. The second thing I realize is, you can pretty much bet everything you own that I would never leave another voicemail message for my daughter that wasn't just like something out of a Rodgers and Hammerstein score. 'How are you today, my little darling?' You know, whatever. I mean, I -- you've got to really, really manage your -- you know what I mean? You learn. You learn.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC