Alec Baldwin—Trump impersonator, political lightning rod, and probable soon-to-be talk show host—tweeted his disapproval early Wednesday of the politicization of talk shows, comparing the style of John Oliver and Stephen Colbert to “grand juries” and seemingly longing for the days when talk shows were apolitical:
Baldwin insisted in a later comment that he wasn’t expressing a preference, though it’s clear his comment was a response to Oliver’s searing confrontation of Dustin Hoffman, which came not on his talk show but at a panel he was moderating. Baldwin, back from his latest Twitter hiatus, Tuesday retweeted criticism of Oliver’s questioning, including this tweet from actor Michael Rapaport.
Baldwin’s talk show “criticism” (or whatever it is) comes at an interesting time, with Baldwin currently in talks with ABC for a talk show of his own. Details are scarce, though sources say the show will be based on his WNYC radio show, Here’s the Thing. His recent interviewees have included Bernie Sanders, Steve Erickson, and Tina Brown, with whom Baldwin discussed the post-Weinstein moment.
Is Baldwin’s talk show really going to be like the apolitical shows of old, “promotional pit stops for some blithe chit chat”? It seems unlikely that the man whose recent tweets have suggested that a Republican representative must be oxygen-deprived (“the air must be thin in Utah”) and condemned Bernie Sanders supporters who failed to vote for Clinton, and who has long considered running for political office, would wind up with a talk show that avoids taking a political stance.
It may not be Oliver’s political style that Baldwin objects to, but his content, specifically his decision to call out sexual harassment. (Colbert, too, has been highly critical of sexual harassment, even within his own network.) Baldwin recently suspended use of his Twitter account after getting into a fight with Weinstein victim Asia Argento over comments he made about Rose McGowan, in which he appeared to blame McGowan for taking a settlement. While critical of Weinstein, Baldwin is openly wary of stretching this moment of sexual reckoning too far, calling allegations of groping against George H.W. Bush “low-hanging fruit” in this “tidal wave of accusations.”
While Baldwin is very open about his left-leaning politics, his gender politics leave something to be desired. It’s likely his show won’t be “blithe chit chat,” but don’t expect it to be fiercely calling out sexual harassment allegations either.
We’ll leave that to John Oliver.