Alec Baldwin posted a video Sunday defending his portrayal of President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” after the show was criticized for making fun of the president while he’s sick with the coronavirus.
Baldwin impersonated Trump in the show’s cold open Saturday, which poked fun at the first presidential debate. It also featured Jim Carrey as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The sketch largely focused on the chaos that ensued during last week’s debate — which quickly devolved into interruptions, broken rules and personal attacks.
But some saw the sketch’s timing as intensive, as it came while the president was in the hospital being treated for COVID-19.
Baldwin addressed that criticism in a video posted to his Instagram on Sunday, saying if Trump had been in serious danger, the sketch wouldn’t have happened.
“If there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill — if people said ‘oh Trump is really in trouble’ — then I would bet you everything I have that we wouldn’t even get near that in terms of the content of the show,” he said in the video. “They would have done something else. I’ve seen that happen.”
He went on to say the only information on Trump’s condition is coming from the White House.
“We only have their word to go by,” he said. “And if their word had been that he was in serious trouble then we probably wouldn’t have done it. But that’s not the case.”
Those close to the president, and Trump himself, have largely portrayed the situation positively. Trump has posted videos on his Twitter saying he’s doing well and his doctors have held news conferences reflecting an optimistic outlook on his condition.
On Sunday, his medical team said he could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as soon as Monday. His doctors also said Sunday for the first time that the president’s blood oxygen levels had dropped twice, that he had received supplemental oxygen and was being treated with steroids.
The message came after a confusing day of conflicting information. Following a positive news conference from White House physician Sean Conley on Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows offered a more serious outlook on the situation.
“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said.
The debate sketch briefly mentioned COVID-19.
“The ‘China virus’ has been very mean to be by being a hoax and that statement will not come back to haunt me later this week,” Baldwin said while playing Trump.
Carrey also brought up the virus during his portrayal of Biden at the end of the sketch.
“I believe in science and karma,” he said. “Now just imagine if science and karma could somehow team up to send us all a message about how dangerous this virus can be. I’m not saying I want it to happen, just imagine if it did.”
The cast addressed the president’s diagnosis later in the show on the “Weekend Update” segment, which focused on the news he had tested positive and also drew criticism.
Michael Che said on the show the news wasn’t surprising and that he thought “Trump was trying to get coronavirus,” pointing to his lack of precautions and maskless gatherings.
“Look I don’t want the president to die, obviously,” he said. “Actually, I wish him a very lengthy recovery.”
Baldwin has portrayed the president on “SNL” numerous times, winning an Emmy for the role in 2017.
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