Alec Baldwin: Monster or Alienated Parent?

There's no excuse for Baldwin's actions, but do divorced dads get a bad rap?

ByABC News
April 23, 2007, 10:03 AM

April 23, 2007 — -- People have RIGHTLY condemned Alec Baldwin for the tirade heleft on his daughter's cell phone:

You shouldn't swear at an 11-year-old, no matter what, but stories I've done on divorce help me understand why a parent could react with that kind of frustration. Fathers often get a bad deal in the courts, often exacerbated by credulous reporting of bad studies by liberal reporters.

Watch "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity" on a special edition of "20/20" Friday, May 4, at 10 p.m. EDT

Here's how I covered it in my book "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong" Click here to buy the book.

MYTH: Divorce hurts women much more than men, and many men abandon their kids.
TRUTH: Both men and women suffer after divorce, and lots of menwant to give more to their kids.

The media (including the men, for psychological reasons involving guiltor other factors best left to Dr. Phil), see men as inviting, politically correcttargets. When experts start trumpeting statistics that add up to "men arebad," reporters listen.

For years, I heard bad things about deadbeat dads. They were living it up,while their ex-wives and children had to scrape by. It's a recurring story, andthe media regurgitates it regularly. It's also group slander.

In 1985, Lenore Weitzman, then a sociologist at Harvard, published datashowing that men prosper after divorce, while women and children suffer terribly.Weitzman's report was appalling: Men's standard of living rose 42 percentafter divorce, while women's declined by 73 percent. The media couldn'tget enough of this exciting news. Those figures were cited not only in newsstories, but in 348 social science articles, 250 law review articles, and 24 appealscourt cases.

Around that time, government officials also reported that Census datashowed that about half of the divorced fathers in America didn't pay childsupport they owed.

The evening newscasts and the papers featured both claims uncritically.