And he even apologized. ("I did not intend to hurt or offend anyone... Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward.... Behavior like this undermines hard-fought rights that I vigorously support.")
Is that fair?
Baldwin — like many celebrities and assorted other humans — wants esteem from those whose esteem he's decided he values, those in the entertainment industry and among the American cultural elite, and these days, it's easy to see that this means that he ought to support gay rights. But that doesn't tell us how he really feels at a gut level. What pops out when he's angry and looking to express hatred shows us what he hides when he's doing his mundane PR.
Who knows how much hatred against gay people there really is out there and to what extent it's apportioned among people who support gay rights on the one hand and people who oppose gay rights on the other? I don't find it hard to imagine someone who hates a particular type of person nevertheless believing that those people deserve equal rights — because it makes sense philosophically or it fits a political ideology. I also don't find it hard to understand someone feeling no hostility for gay people and still rejecting same-sex marriage and thinking that all non-procreative sexual behavior should be discouraged.
Eagerness to support gay rights may stem from a desire to compensate for strongly felt aversion to gay people. Baldwin's problem is that this compensation cannot stand up to his intense emotionality, and paparazzi who know this have made a game out of provoking him to the point of explosion. It's actually kind of sad. He's a great actor, and since he tends to play villains — wonderfully — he doesn't even need us to think that he's a good person.
But should he have a political talk show on MSNBC? That's for MSNBC to decide, and obviously they have. MSNBC has chosen to be more genteel and respectful toward the cultural elite. It doesn't seem to know how to foster vibrant discourse about politics, and the gambit of putting on the over-passionate Baldwin was always lame, even before he embarrassed them.