Baldwin “Rust” interview rates are poor; 5 reasons why the public has disconnected


Last night, ABC’s main presenter in Washington and co-host of Hello america, George Stephanopoulos, landed (and aired on ABC) Alec Baldwin’s first interview, since the tragic shooting that took place on his film set, Rust, which resulted in the death of the director of photography of the film Halyna Hutchins and an injury to the director, Joel Souza.

Stephanopoulos, once a political genius who helped get Bill Clinton elected president (twice), has become a winning interviewer and moderator, equally at home with high profile politicians as he is with the elite of Hollywood.

ABC heavily promoted the hour-long special event, the teasing moments curious minds were certainly curious about:

Did Baldwin feel guilty about what happened?

Baldwin has claimed that he does not feel guilty because he claims he has done nothing wrong. He said if he felt he was wrong and was responsible, he might have already committed suicide.

Did Baldwin pull the trigger?

Perhaps the most surprising moment of the exchange was when Baldwin said he never pulled an actual trigger. Even senior assistant director Dave Halls confirms as a witness that Baldwin never literally unloaded the gun. The explosion, according to Baldwin, occurred after the weapon’s “hammer” was released, not the trigger.

Did Baldwin think he would be prosecuted?

Baldwin believes he will not be prosecuted. He felt that if that was a possibility, he would have learned this news from authorities in New Mexico by now (the place where Rust was in production and tragedy occurred.)

By most journalistic measures, the interview was a success.

Stephanopoulos spared no effort, and in interviewing the often emotional movie star, Stephanopoulos displayed patience and focus, which brought out some raw truths that Baldwin seemed to land on in real time during their conversation.

For viewers keen to hear Baldwin’s version, they got a full story and then some.

Why then, did the special rank fourth among the major networks?

Here are 5 key reasons for the lack of interest:

1. It’s too early.

Since no charges have yet been laid and the incident occurred less than two months ago – October 21st, to be exact – conventional wisdom is that not enough is known and that it is simply too early to have a full account of what really happened that day.

2. Baldwin is a polarizing figure.

Baldwin has a long history of controversy in his personal and professional life. Whether he publicly humiliates and verbally abuses his daughter Ireland through voicemail, or regularly engages in physical altercations with paparazzi, Baldwin is making headlines, but often for the wrong reasons. This tragedy counts as one more incident in a long line of deeply regrettable behavior by the A-List star. Add to that his political views and his scathing satirical portrayal of Donald Trump on SNL, and you have a talent that at least half the country can openly despise.

3. It was only one side of a much larger and evolving story.

As interesting as it was to learn Baldwin’s point of view, it was only his own. A more satisfying experience would have been hearing from others on set, including the deceased’s surviving husband, as well as the director who was injured. The totally one-sided nature of the special took on the magnitude of an hour mea culpa, as well-intentioned as it is, and it’s a bridge too far for many to take.

4. Stephanopoulos is good, but he’s not Oprah.

Network TV increasingly relies on event interviews, live sports, and reality shows to attract any audience. Check out Nielsen and you’ll find that no networked scripted series has been in the top 10 shows in months, if not more. As the topic of the interview matters – whether it’s Harry and Meghan from Sussex, or Adele revealing a new album and gig – we see the interviewer matters just as well. Stephanopoulos did a great job as a journalist, but does he have that same “effervescence” that Barbara Walters created and that Oprah has now? From last night’s notes, Oprah’s crown appears intact and unchallenged.

5. It is a tragic, horrific, and easily preventable story.

Finally, and above all, last night was finally the story of a singular moment with extremely tragic consequences, each more terrible than the next.

With the rise of a new variant of the corona virus and an economy shifting towards skyrocketing prices and stifling inflation, many might prefer an hour of escape with Harry and Meghan, or a royal talent like Adele, rather than a meditation on life. or-errors of death, shared by a sincerely contrite actor but always divisive.

The controversy surrounding the special took on new life today, when the New Mexico prosecutor was required to issue a statement saying Baldwin is in fact still a suspect and has yet to be cleared of criminal charges.

What a nightmare and what an overwhelming disappointment for ABC.


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