David Letterman gave his friend Alec Baldwin an opportunity to refute charges that Baldwin leveled racist remarks at an African-American newspaper photographer in New York last week.
On Letterman’s “Late Show” Monday night, Baldwin denied he made the remarks that the photographer said Baldwin made when a Post reporter and the photog — who also works for the New York Post — approached Baldwin while he walked his dog near his Manhattan apartment. They were seeking Baldwin’s reaction to a lawsuit filed against his wife, Hilaria, a yoga instructor.
“Well, you know, Dave, I would like to begin now an official campaign to get the New York Post nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for journalism,” Baldwin said sarcastically on “Late Show” when Letterman first raised the subject.
Baldwin then listed a handful of human-rights organizations he has supported over the years, apparently to demonstrate that racism is not a part of his personal history.
He owned up to having a propensity for making “provocative” remarks, but he continued to deny he made the statements he was accused of making.
“I am capable of saying things that are purposefully provoking and insulting,” Baldwin said. The backstory is this: On Monday, Feb. 18, the Post photographer alleges that Baldwin reacted angrily to the photographer and the reporter, saying to the young, female reporter, “I want to choke you to death.”
According to The Post (here’s the original story on the fracas), Baldwin called the African-American photographer a “coon,” a “crackhead” and a “drug dealer.” The photographer, G.N. Miller, 56, told Baldwin he was a retired NYPD officer.
The reporter and the photographer claimed they recorded everything Baldwin said. On the “Letterman” show, Baldwin claimed that was false.
“They’re dying to get you [saying] something on film,” Baldwin said. But “there was no evidence of me [on the tape] ever saying any of those racial [things]. And I thought it was interesting, by the way, that they assigned a word to me that I haven’t heard since Rod Steiger was in ‘In the Heat of the Night’ [a reference to the Oscar-winning 1967 movie in which Steiger played a racist southern sheriff]. … It was really repulsive.”
In the wake of the incident, Baldwin’s “30 Rock” co-star Tracy Morgan was among those who said Baldwin should apologize, if he made the statements.