Alec Baldwin was not pleased to hear the news that the National Security Agency has continued to collect the data of millions of Verizon customers, but has complicated feelings over its larger implication.
"I think that the post-9/11 world is one in which people tell themselves that they'd rather be safe than sorry," Baldwin said in an interview at a press event in New York on Thursday for his new block of adventure programming on NatGeo. "And although I have an understanding of that and an appreciation of it, I do think that the democracy that we believe in and tell ourselves that we believe in, to preserve it, it takes a lot of work. And it seems that we live in a world now where people aren't willing to do the hard work and heavy lifting."
Baldwin was quick to acknowledge that the U.S. faced very real ideological enemies, and cited April's Boston bombing — and the two Chechen-born terrorists behind it — as an example of the seemingly broad range of people eager to hurt Americans. That, he said, "feeds into a paranoia."
"I think what's happened in government is, on a non-partisan basis, is we're not willing to work harder. There are many, many hard working people, but I'm talking about in terms of to conduct a policy, they sit there — and this began in the previous administration — they said let's just make this easier on ourselves," he added. "Let's just do what we need to do, an if something is going to get jettisoned, if we're in a lifeboat and we need to throw something over the side and lessen the load here to ensure our survival, some of these rights will be tossed aside. That's a shame."
At the same time, Baldwin, who is a noted critic of Rupert Murdoch, said that the NSA collected hone call data didn't quite compare with the rampant phone-tapping done by British tabloids.
"This is not [Prime Minister David] Cameron's Downing Street that's for sale to the News Corporation people," he said. "This is not a Prime Minister in bed with a kind of nefarious corporate type who is willing to rape people's rights to sell newspapers. You think to yourself, you can't imagine that happening here. And it doesn't happen here, I don't think — whether Murdoch was doing wiretapping here, we'll never know."
Perhaps crunching the odds in his head, Baldwin amended his prediction.
"You might have had people deleting emails and shredding documents here to cover it up. You have to assume maybe it did happen," he decided. "But we'll say to ourselves that it didn't happen here, but other things happened. And what's happened is that the government in a post-9/11 world is going to cut a lot of corners, and it's a shame."