Following President Donald Trump's hospitalization for COVID-19 on Friday, actor Alec Baldwin is responding to critics of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch that lampooned last week's debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and which obliquely referred to the president's illness.
"Online I see that there is considerable criticism from some people about … the perception that we're mocking him while he's sick," the three-time Emmy Award winner, 62, said in a rambling 15-minute Instagram video Sunday. "If there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill and 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. They would have done something else. I've seen that happen before."
Baldwin, who was born in Amityville and raised in Massapequa, later added, "We only have the words of the White House itself and the people who work there themselves to go on, and all of them have been saying that he is not in any danger. … 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."
The debate, Baldwin said, "was something topical. We didn't have anything with him laying in a hospital bed, but we felt the debate was something [for which] you'd have to have a very good reason to avoid that, topicality-wise, and nobody thought that they were mocking somebody's illness by doing that."
Trump had tweeted a video of himself at 6:51 p.m. Saturday, seated at a table in a jacket and shirt, saying he was "starting to feel good" and "I think I'll be back soon."
The "SNL" sketch, a cold open to the season 46 premiere, featured Baldwin in his recurring role as Trump and guest Jim Carrey as Joe Biden, with cast member Beck Bennett as debate moderator Chris Wallace. Most references to COVID-19 did not involve Trump becoming ill. Baldwin's Trump complained of people and things being "very mean to me," including "the China virus," which he called "a hoax, and that statement will not come back to haunt me later this week." At other points, his Trump says he brought a mask and pulls out a pair of pink women's underwear, and he calls a laser pointer "a wand that cures the COVID."
The most direct reference was Carrey's Biden saying, "I believe in science. And karma. Now just imagine 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. But just imagine if it did."
"If you didn't like Trump, the sketch, I'm sorry," Baldwin concluded his video. "We thought we kept the gloves on."