Comedian Adam Carolla speculated Wednesday that actor Alec Baldwin’s departure from MSNBC earlier this week had more to do with poor ratings than his allegedly hurling a homophobic slur at a paparazzi photographer earlier this month.
Carolla argued it was more likely MSNBC used those remarks as a convenient excuse for ending a poor-performing program.
“Fitzdog, you and I have done enough of this shit to know the first two weeks basically lets you know where the rest is going,” Carolla said on his Wednesday podcast. “They’ll give you the first week just that people coming in — sort of looky-loos, curious, want to see what is going on, kicking some tires. But you get to the two-week mark, as a matter of fact, I think almost every network, if you cut them a deal and said, ‘Would you like your talent, your host, whatever — almost whatever the format is, right at the two-week mark to go on some racially insensitive or homophobic slur rant out in the streets of Manhattan and someone to capture it on film and they’ll throw it up on TMZ,’ they’ll go, ‘Oh, that’d be the greatest fucking windfall ever. It would save us a lot of fucking money and effort,’ because they have to then — it becomes this thing of, ‘We got to fire the producer, we got to get more writers, there’s a format change.'”
“And it’s also a world where if you don’t produce in the first 10 minutes, you’re out the door,” he continued. “If your sitcom doesn’t get any ratings in the first two weeks — it’s not a ‘Seinfeld’ era where it’s like, ‘Well, maybe in season two we’ll get a little more traction.’ … Meanwhile, if ‘Duck Dynasty’ goes on some sort of gay or ethnically based rant or homophobic rant, they’ll do a, ‘Guys, we got a prepared statement. You go ahead and say it and we’re moving on.’ You ain’t going anywhere. Like if you’re moving the needle, if you are getting traction and getting ratings, you’re not going anywhere.”
Carolla’s speculation may not be far off. Baldwin’s debut of his weekly 10 p.m. ET Friday program on the left-leaning MSNBC in October drew 654,000 viewers, a 53-percent jump from the prior week. However, by the time his final show ran on Nov. 8, his ratings had slipped dramatically, drawing 395,000 viewers.
“I know that Terrell Owens can say whatever Terrell Owens wants to say and can be as big a pompous ass and dick as he wants, as long as he’s going up and catching touchdowns,” Carolla said. “And the second he loses a step and doesn’t bring the ball down, Randy Moss — the list goes on and on. Sports are the ultimate with this. That guy can be poison to a team. If he’s bringing down the ball, he’s on a team. He may go to another team, he’s around. If he’s not bringing down the ball down, magically he’s gone. And I’m guessing Baldwin had shitty ratings, and I don’t that it’s all about that. It’s probably a convenient way of going, ‘This guy is a little bit hard to work with. We thought we’d get this big name; we thought we’d get some traction.'”
Carolla speculated if Baldwin’s numbers had not waned, a one- or two-week suspension would like have satisfied the gay community as punishment for his tirade.
“I’ll put it to you this way — I don’t know that anyone takes a principled stand on anything,” Carolla said. “They get pressure. What they do with the pressure will be based on how much money they’re making from the product. If they have a product that’s not selling and it gets recalled, and there’s a lawsuit or something, pack up the factory. If they’re doing something that’s selling gangbusters and 10 kids died, they’ll pay out those lawsuits and keep those conveyor belts rolling.”
“Look, I don’t think anyone in the gay community or beyond — if they said, ‘Look, Baldwin is going to get a one-week suspension for this off-air tirade, and then sent him back to work, I don’t think anyone would have went, ‘No, that’s outrageous. We must end his career as a talk show host.’ I don’t think anyone for the most part needs people removed in perpetuity. A nice two-week suspension would have sufficed.”