The three major networks devoted four times as much coverage to obsessing over Paula Deen's use of a racial epithet 30 years ago than they did of outspoken liberal Alec Baldwin's anti-gay rant on Twitter. Over the first three days of the revelation that Deen used the N-word in 1983, ABC, CBS and NBC featured the story for 32 minutes and 41 seconds. Over the three days since Baldwin's tirade, the same networks allowed a mere seven minutes and 49 seconds-- not counting nearly five minutes on ABC, wondering if there was a double standard in reaction to the two cases. [See a chart below, also video. MP3 audio here.]
The biggest disparity came on CBS. The network covered Deen for almost seven and a half minutes, but a meager seven seconds for Baldwin. Over the first three day period, the CBS Evening News never discussed Baldwin. From June 20 through the 22, ABC investigated Deen's actual offense for a whopping 12 and a half minutes. Yet, the network, from June 28 to the 30th, featured a scant two minutes and 16 seconds on Baldwin's attack against the "toxic little queen" who wrote a negative story about his wife.
NBC's Deen totals more than doubled that of Baldwin. The network hyped the former-Food Network star for 12 minutes and 45 seconds, five minutes and 26 seconds for the actor.
On Saturday and Sunday, Good Morning America noticed a double standard and allowed another four minutes and 41 seconds. On Monday, News reader Josh Elliott wondered, "Do you see, now, a double standard? Because Hollywood has been noticeably silent with regard to Alec Baldwin." With no self-awareness, he added, "I find the silence, though, to be deafening."
The actor is a prominent liberal who has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians and considered running for New York City mayor.
Even the liberal Washington Post saw the possible reason Baldwin hasn't been heavily scolded. Writers Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger noted, "Of course, some allege a double standard — that Baldwin is given a pass because of his liberal politics for the same kind of jerk behavior that nearly ruined conservative star Mel Gibson."
The Post writers featured this quote from Democratic activist Hillary Rosen:
We asked Hilary Rosen, the Washington media strategist who has been friends with Baldwin since college. "What he said was disgusting," she told us. "But I think he has a deeper reservoir of good will among folks because he’s been a progressive ally and fighter for progressive causes for years, and that’s the genuine side of him."
ABC on Saturday night and Sunday morning appeared hesitant to label Baldwin's remarks homophobic. On World News, David Muir referred to an "alleged slur." On Sunday's Good Morning America, co-host Dan Harris noticed an "apparently anti-gay" comment. Dan Harris quizzed, "So, why no Baldwin backlash?"
One of Baldwin's tweets threatened the reporter: "I'm gonna find you...you toxic little queen and I'm gonna [expletive]... you up."
Alleged slur? Apparently anti-gay?
The totals on Deen (June 20-22): ABC: 12:34, NBC 12:45, CBS: 7:23. The totals on Baldwin (June 28-30): 2 minutes 16 seconds, NBC: 5 minutes and 26 seconds. CBS: 7 seconds.
[Special thanks to MRC intern Jeffrey Meyer for assistance.]
A transcript of the June 30 GMA segment is below:
DAN HARRIS: Celebrity double standard, Alec Baldwin used gay slurs to threaten a reporter and his career appears to be unscathed. Why did he not get the Paula Deen treatment?
HARRIS: Coming up in the broadcast, is there a double standard here when it comes to these celebrities? Alec Baldwin seems to be unscathed, relatively, after the apparent homophobic rant he launched on Twitter, while Paula Deen's empire is in ruins after she used racial slurs. So why no Baldwin backlash?
HARRIS: But start with the question of a celebrity double standard. Alec has Baldwin emerged relatively unscathed after last week's nasty and apparently anti-gay Twitter tirade against a reporter.
PAULA FARIS: All of this controversy, meantime, the big controversy over Paula Deen's racial slur years from about 30 years ago costing her millions and its ruining her reputation. ABC's Gio Benitez has been looking into this. Good morning, Gio.
GIO BENITEZ: Good morning to you, Paula, Dan. Good morning. We're used to hearing about the Baldwin temper tantrums, but perhaps never in the same week that another celebrity begins losing her empire over something she said.
PAULA DEEN: I want to apologize to everybody.
BENITEZ: It's the nation-wide debate pitting Deen against Baldwin. Paula Deen still reeling after losing nearly a dozen major endorsements, partnerships and counting, after admitting the use of the N-word in a recent deposition. The latest, Random House cancelling a five book deal after fans rallied to make one of them a bestseller months before it's released.
DEEN: This is so good.
BENITEZ: The former Food Network star has apologized, but as her estimated $17 million fortune continues its landslide, another star, Alec Baldwin, seems Teflon strong.
[Clip from 30 Rock.]
BENITEZ: The star of 30 Rock fired off what's being called a homophobic slur on Twitter after a newspaper reporter accused his wife of tweeting during James Gandolfini's funeral. Among the explosive tweets, "I'm going to find you, toxic little queen and I'm going to expletive you up. Baldwin later quit Twitter and apologized in a letter to GLAAD, saying his tweets "were not implying any issues of anyone's sexual orientation." But some vehemently disagree. Anderson Cooper tweeting Friday, "Why does Alec Baldwin get a pass when he used gay slurs? If a conservative talked about beating up a queen, they would be vilified." Like Deen, Baldwin is no stranger to endorsements.
[Clip from Capital One commercial]
BENITEZ: Yet the face of Capital Oe credit cards hasn't suffered nearly the same backlash as Deen. Some argue Deen is the victim of a double standard, while others say not so fast.
HOWARD BRAGMAN: If Alec Baldwin had dropped the N-bomb the way Paula Deen had, you can bet he would lose his Capital One endorsements.
BENITEZ: But stars like Kevin Hart on OMG Insider say the pounding against Paula may be too extreme.
KEVIN HART (Comedian): I'm a black man. I was one of the people who was offended when I heard it. It's too much.
BENITEZ: Baldwin may survive his latest debacle, but it remains to be seen if Deen can survive hers. And Baldwin's wife is defending her husband using what else? Twitter. She said some of her best friends are gay and she would never have married a homophobic man.