Former NBC comedy star and MSNBC interview host Alec Baldwin has announced in a New York Magazine cover story that he is quitting public life after being let go by MSNBC over language he used in an on-the-street rant against a photographer. In the piece, Baldwin calls MSNBC star Rachel Maddow a “phony” who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera as she appears to have on-camera,” according to the interview that was published late last night. In late November, MSNBC and Alec Baldwin‘s camp announced jointly that Baldwin’s Friday show was toast: “We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” the cable network and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said. Added MSNBC: “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.” It was the first MSNBC had spoken about Up Late’s suspension, Baldwin having announced earlier that month the network had suspended his show for two weeks. That came after TMZ posted a video clip in which he was seen tearing into a photographer with what the press reported sounded like at least one gay slur and possibly two, though Baldwin denied uttering the second one, and said he did not realize the first was a slur.
In the NYMag piece, Baldwin says a New York Post Page Six report in December, suggesting Maddow had been responsible for his exit from the network, was part of an effort by MSNBC president Phil Griffin to nail him. “Once they fired me, a former MSNBC employee I knew emailed me. He said, ‘You watch now, Phil is going to start leaking left and right to bury you.’ When I left, ‘Page Six’ was flooded with lies about me,” Baldwin is quoted as saying in the article. The magazine piece also quotes Baldwin reporting he was told Maddow was going to get him fired, adding, “I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.”
Before his show got scrubbed but during its suspension, Baldwin wrote in his blog, “[If] the show dies, its fate ends up being no different than the vast majority of start-up TV programming, and so be it.” His program had sunk about 40% in ratings in its brief five-week life.