Baldwin Not the Only Culprit in Custody Battle with Basinger
By Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks Alec Baldwin's angry, over-the-top voice-mail tirade at his daughter, Ireland, was clearly wrong. Unfortunately, while we've been wringing our hands over how bad Baldwin is, we're ignoring the case's central truth - Kim Basinger's well-documented parental alienation campaign against Baldwin. Parental alienation often arises after a divorce, as one angry, vengeful parent tries to turn the children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed. Baldwin claims that his outburst occurred in the context of Basinger alienating Ireland and trying to drive him out of his daughter's life. This claim appears to have merit. In fact, Basinger's own mother has publicly condemned her behavior. Ann Basinger, Ireland's grandmother, calls Baldwin a "wonderful" parent, and says: "My heart is sad for Ireland. She's the one that's suffering the most. All this is killing her. I think Kim has tried to alienate Ireland from her father. Alec loves his daughter with all his heart. He really is a family man . . . I hate what [Kim] is doing." Journalist Pat Lalama, who has covered the Baldwin-Basinger divorce and custody battle since their break-up seven years ago, recently told CNN: "In all the years that I have covered celebrities . . . this was one of the meanest exchanges between two human beings . . . some of the things that Kim Basinger was demanding, in order to humiliate him, were outrageous...[Baldwin] was provoked by an angry ex, which I'm guessing is probably the case here, [and] he went over the edge." Earlier this year Baldwin charged that Basinger has: violated his visitation rights; interfered with his phone access to Ireland; and not notified him when she was going to be out of town so Baldwin could care for Ireland himself rather than leaving her with Basinger's baby-sitters. In court Baldwin produced messages that Basinger gave Ireland before Ireland's visits with Baldwin. The messages, which were printed on candy bar wrappers, implied that Basinger had been mistreated by Baldwin and that Basinger and Ireland are aligned together. Despite this, Baldwin has made legitimate attempts to placate Basinger in the best interests of their child. In November he even went on Larry King Live and praised Basinger, telling King, "I think she's a great mother, yes, a good mom." In the long run, the apparent decision to leak the tape to the media - in violation of a court order - is far more damaging to Ireland than Baldwin's angry tirade. Had the tape not been leaked, Baldwin would have apologized to Ireland, and the incident would have been soon forgotten. Instead, Ireland will be embarrassed by the incident for the rest of her childhood. One tactic frequently employed by alienating mothers is to try to provoke the father into blowing his top by interfering with his relationship with his children. When he does, mom pretends to be scared of "his awful temper," and gets the father's already limited role in his daughter's life reduced. Baldwin was foolish to play into Basinger's hands. As the target parent of parental alienation, Baldwin is in a very difficult and painful situation. John Stossel, in his new book Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel - Why Everything You Know is Wrong, describes an example of parental alienation he filmed for his TV show: "We videotaped one such heartbreaking scene. A divorced father went to see his five kids for what he thought would be a full-day visit. He was entitled to that, under court order, and the court also ordered the mother not to discourage the children from spending time with their father. But she clearly had poisoned his children's minds against him. The father just stood outside his ex-wife's house and begged his children, 'Would you like to go out with me today?' 'No,' said one kid after another. Then the mother ordered the kids back into her house. "What comes through on the tape is the unbridled satisfaction of the mother and the helplessness of the father." Can any parent reading this honestly say that, were they in this father's shoes, they would never blow their top? This column appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune (4/27/07). Family law attorney Jeffery M. Leving is the Chairman of the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood. His website is www.dadsrights.com. Glenn Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of the largest newspapers in the United States. He invites readers to visit his website at www.GlennSacks.com.