Alec Baldwin has responded to backlash and defended parodying Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live despite his recent Covid-19 diagnosis, saying that the show would not have done it if the president was “truly, gravely ill.”
The weekly comedy show’s humorous take on Trump’s illness received a somewhat cold welcome online, prompting Baldwin to take to Instagram on Sunday to defend his and the show’s creators’ decision to riff on it.
“If there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill, and people said, ‘Trump is really in trouble,’ then I would bet you everything I have that we wouldn’t even get near that, in terms of content of the show,” Baldwin said in the 15-minute long video.
Baldwin, who has been playing a satirized version of Trump on SNL for some four years, reprised the role on October 3 for the show’s comedic spin on the first presidential debate of the 2020 election – just one day after Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania had tested positive for Covid-19.
The actor said he and the SNL team based the decision on statements from the White House about the severity of Trump’s illness, noting that “all of them have all been saying he isn’t in any danger” and that if they had said he was “in serious trouble, then we probably wouldn’t have done it.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many on Instagram weren’t willing to cut Baldwin much slack over the decision to mock Trump’s illness and failing to see any bad optics in it.
“Why do you hate Trump so much? What has he done to you personally?” asked one of the top commenters to Baldwin’s post. Another person called Baldwin “a mercenary without rational thinking and morals.”
There were plenty of others, however, who enjoyed the comedy, lauding Baldwin for his performance – and not only Trump critics.
“Enjoyed the sketch. And I’m a Trump supporter. Don’t understand why some people’s feelings are so fragile,” one person wrote. “Comedy and Satire are vital to our free speech,” another said.
The controversial skit featured joking references to Trump’s diagnosis. Playing Trump, Baldwin declared the coronavirus pandemic “a hoax,” referencing the widespread false claim that Trump had at some point used that word to describe Covid-19. The skit also suggested that Trump’s diagnosis might be “karma.”
In the past, Baldwin’s portrayal has even sparked angry reaction from the president himself. In 2019, Trump tweeted that there was “nothing funny” about SNL and said it was “very unfair and should be looked into.”
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