Some experts say Alec Baldwin’s “rust” comments may have offended him


Prosecutors waited until last week to announce that they would charge Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting Cinematographer Helena Hutchins on a movie set in New Mexico, but the 64-year-old actor has pleaded his case in the court of public opinion since the October 2021 incident.

The actor has defended himself in several high-profile interviews and social media posts in which he deflected responsibility for the shooting, even suing the film-maker and his first assistant director, among others, accusing them of negligence.

Baldwin’s public approach to clearing his name is risky, according to some legal and crisis management experts, who have suggested that by focusing on the story, Baldwin could alienate prosecutors and lose public sympathy.

“He should never have spoken out publicly after the incident,” Suzanne M. Tellem, a senior partner with California-based Tellem Grody PR, said via email. “It set the stage for future legal troubles, and here we are.”

Some legal and crisis management experts say Alec Baldwin’s approach to clearing his name after the fatal shooting on the set of “Rust” is risky and harmful. (Video: Allie Karen/The Washington Post)

“His training dictated that he would come out in front of this, and he would get his point out in the court of public opinion, and he would get out all of his statements, his interviews, and show the world that this was just a terrible accident,” said David M. Schwartz, partner at the New York law firm and D.C. Gerstmann Schwartz LLP. “In the world of courts and criminal law, this is really wrong.”

Baldwin’s rep did not immediately provide comment from the actor or his attorney.

Prosecutors said Jan. 19 that “Rust” actor Alec Baldwin and gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed will be charged with two counts of manslaughter. (Video: Allie Karen/The Washington Post)

The actor is expected to be charged with two counts of manslaughter after handling a discharged .45-caliber Long Colt revolver and hitting Hutchins on the set of the low-budget western movie “Rust.” Hana Gutierrez Reid, the gunsmith charged with inspecting guns for safety, faces the same charges. Prosecutors said Senior Assistant Principal Dave Holz signed a plea agreement for negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Alec Baldwin, crew member to be charged with manslaughter in shooting of ‘Rust’

Baldwin made his first public statement the day after the shooting, which occurred on October 21, 2021. “I am cooperating fully with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and am in contact with her husband, offering my support,” Baldwin said on Twitter. My heart breaks for her husband, son and everyone who knew and loved Helena.”

Less than two weeks later, Baldwin wrote Instagram screenshots Featuring comments from “Rust” costume designer Terese Magpale Davis defending the collection’s safety requirements. In December of that year, he published the A message from the cast and crew of “Rust” Disputing the narrative that the film had a “messy, dangerous and exploitative workplace”. In the same month, the actor gave An hour-long interview on Primetime on ABC In it, he claimed that he had not pulled the trigger of the gun and that he felt no responsibility for Hutchins’ death.

“Someone put a live bullet into a gun, a bullet that wasn’t supposed to be on the property,” Baldwin told the interviewer, George Stephanopoulos. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who it is, but I know it’s not me.”

“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger on them. Never,” he said.

Last August, the FBI forensic reports I suggested That the gun will not go off without pulling the trigger while cocking the weapon. However, Baldwin doubled down on his assertions during his appearance Chris Cuomo’s podcast. he Placing the blame on Gutierrez Reed and Holles in A.J CNN interview later that month saying, “These two people are responsible for what happened.”

Renato Mariotti, partner at the Chicago law firm Brian Cave Leighton Basener And a former federal attorney general, he said, from a legal perspective, “there’s only a downside” to talking to the media while you’re under a criminal investigation.

“If Alec Baldwin said something to the public that was beneficial to him, he couldn’t make that statement at trial,” Mariotti said. “It would be hearsay. If the government tries to make a statement that it thinks is hurtful to him, it can. It will be considered admission. … What it’s doing is probably giving the government ammunition against him.”

Ivan Nerman, CEO, Inc PR firm Red Banyan Global CrisisBaldwin said he looked “woefully unprepared” during the interview with Stephanopoulos, which Nierman views as an “inflection point” in a series of bad choices. Neirman said that aside from Baldwin’s public comments, his lawyer’s statement last week, that he said the impending charges against the actor “shocked” them, was unwise. “It’s absolutely wrong to say that, and all it does is cement this narrative that celebrities in general and Baldwin in particular are out of touch with reality,” he said. “How could you be shocked?”

Although Baldwin may have had no malicious intent on the set that day, Nierman suggested he could have won more public sympathy by accepting a modicum of responsibility.

“You can explain what happened. You can provide valuable context. You can make your case. But if you’re fundamentally unwilling to accept responsibility, you don’t shut down. All you’re doing is sparking more discussion,” Nierman said. Final because he was so brazen that he set himself up as a victim.”

Baldwin’s public attempts to shift the blame elsewhere may have backfired legally, according to Rachel Fisette, managing partner at the California firm. Zweiback, Tribes and Zalduendo.

“The skew of blame that was constantly coming out of his mouth, even as he was struggling to deal with this incident—because I think everyone thinks it was an accident—may have just been rubbed in.” [the prosecutors] The wrong way, because what plaintiffs want to see is remorse.” “They want to see that someone took a thoughtful, measured approach to something as tragic as this that will never happen again.”

Baldwin alleged in a lawsuit in November that the shooting was due to the negligence of Gutierrez Reed, in charge of the guns and ammunition on the site; Holz, who hands the gun over to Baldwin and says it is safe; Sarah Zakry, props officer; and Seth Kinney, who provided guns and ammo on the set. halls He filed a counterclaim against Baldwin.

“I don’t have as much a problem with that as I do with public statements,” Schwartz said. He described the suit as “a good mechanism for making your points.”

In October, the Hutchins family settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Baldwin, the companies involved in the production of “Rust” and several crew members. According to the terms of the settlement, filming of “Rust” will resume in January, with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, serving as executive producer.

Norman predicted that the film would get a lot of attention out of morbid curiosity, which might not be good for Baldwin in the long run. He said, “Although there is no video of the incident itself, this film will create indelible images of Alec Baldwin, in Western attire, with a gun.”

Eric Gardner, national correspondent for Puck and former legal editor of The Hollywood Reporter, noted that Baldwin isn’t the only high-profile person to publicly defend himself despite a pending legal case. Gardner noted that Sam Bankman Fried, the founder and CEO of cryptocurrency giant FTX facing multiple charges from the Department of Justice, has defended himself in numerous interviews and in a newly launched newsletter. “It was like that when you become a co-defendant in a case, or even a potential co-defendant in a case, you shut up,” Gardner said. “You’re listening to your lawyer. You’ve become very careful. I think that’s less of that now.”

Neirman said counseling celebrity clients isn’t always a simple task. “They’ve done so many interviews for so many years that they feel invincible,” he said.

Now that Baldwin is expected to be charged, Mariotti, the former federal prosecutor, said the actor should let his attorneys speak for him.

“Mr. Baldwin should exercise his right to remain silent, which he should have done from the beginning,” said he.

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