The film and television actor Alec Baldwin has denied using a racial epithet during an altercation with a photographer and reporter from tabloid newspaper the New York Post.
The 54-year-old 30 Rock star was approached by Post reporter Tara Palmeri and photographer GN Miller yesterday morning as he walked his dogs in the East Village in Manhattan.
Asked for comment on a lawsuit involving his wife, Hilaria Thomas, Baldwin allegedly grabbed Palmeri's arm – the Post has a photograph it says shows this taking place – and said, according to Palmeri, "I want you to choke to death." Palmeri claims to have passed a tape recording of the conversation to police.
The Post then alleges that, during an argument with their photographer Miller, Baldwin called him a "drug dealer", a "crackhead" and even the racial epithet "coon". The Post does not appear to claim to have a recording of this, although the allegation was included in Miller's statement to New York police.
Both parties have filed complaints against the other.
Baldwin vigorously denied the accusations, claiming that he called the police because of the Post journalists' aggressive behaviour.
"If you want to paint a picture of me that is a denigrating picture, I've seen that," Baldwin told Gothamist. "If you want to put words in my mouth...I've certainly had my moments. But this is not one of them. I don't think I've ever uttered a racial epithet to someone in my lifetime... I don't think anyone who knows me would think that was possible."
The actor expanded on his version of events, saying he was physically harassed by Miller: "He banged into me with his shoulder, because he was right on top of me with the camera. In my mind, it was deliberate. I've had that happen before. It happens sometimes, because they want to bait you, they want you to do something."
Baldwin also claimed that Miller had remained on the scene after the police arrived and had not mentioned his belief that the actor had used a racial slur. "While police were here, you'd figure that'd be an opportune time for this guy to really attempt to tar me in some way. But there was no mention of anything I said to him, no one said anything about me saying the N-word or taunting him or anything. So it was after the fact. He wants to say I used some racial slur against him."
Last night, before the Post story was published, Baldwin tweeted: "I wonder what outrageous claims the Post will make tomorrow re the 'photographer' I filed an NYPD complaint against today." Then soon after: "My publicist has just informed me that the 'photographer' from the Post is claiming I called him a racial epithet, prior to calling the cops... That's kind of magical thinking, isn't it? The Post accusing me of racism?"
Baldwin appears to have repeated the "crackhead" slur on Twitter following the incident, but has since deleted the post.
Of his long-running feud with the newspaper, Baldwin said: "The Post will stop at nothing—that's what The Post is. Their function is to denigrate people, humiliate people, reduce people, make excuses for people who are their political partisans. It's a highly biased, highly politicised group of people. However, I'm stunned that they would resort to that. Even for The Post, this is a new low."
At press time, Baldwin's latest comment on the matter was via the Twitter feed for the Alec Baldwin Foundation: "I find it ironic that my foundation's last grant was $50,000 to the Arthur Ashe Learning Center."