- Alec Baldwin responded to criticism for portraying Donald Trump on the season 46 premiere of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" amid the president's COVID-19 hospitalization.
- "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 an Instagram video on Sunday.
- Baldwin said that the "SNL" team made decisions based on the White House's messaging about the president's condition.
- "If their word was that he was in serious trouble then we probably wouldn’t have done it, but that’s not the case," he said.
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Alec Baldwin responded to criticism for portraying Donald Trump on the season 46 premiere of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" amid the president's COVID-19 hospitalization.
In a nearly 15-minute Instagram video on Sunday, Baldwin, who's played Trump on the show over a dozen times, explained the decision to reenact the chaotic presidential debate during the show's cold open, despite news that Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"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 explained.
Baldwin said that Lorne Michaels, the show's creator and executive producer, and NBC "don't want to sink the ship" and regularly reject sketches that are "deemed inappropriate."
He added that they "would've done something else" if the White House indicated that the president's life was in danger.
"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. We only have their word to go by. If their word was that he was in serious trouble then we probably wouldn't have done it, but that's not the case," he said.
Following the announcement that Trump tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday morning, statements from the White House have caused confusion about the severity and timeline of the president's diagnosis.
Hours before "SNL" aired on Saturday, Trump released a video from the hospital via Twitter and said he's "feeling much better now."
He also left the hospital on Sunday to pay a "surprise visit" to fans from a black SUV, according to footage from CNN.
And given that more than 73 million people watched the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Baldwin said the "SNL" team felt compelled to reenact the event because it was "something topical."
"We didn't have anything with him laying in a hospital bed but we thought the debate was something — you have to have a very good reason to avoid that," he said.
In Saturday's opening sketch, Baldwin was joined by Jim Carrey, who debuted his role as former Vice President Joe Biden, Maya Rudolph, who reprised her impersonation of Sen. Kamala Harris, and Beck Bennett, who played debate moderator Chris Wallace.
"You did take the COVID test you promised to take in advance, correct?" Bennett's Wallace asked Baldwin's Trump.
"Absolutely, scout's honor," he responded, later adding, "The China virus has been very mean to me by being a hoax, and that statement will not come back to haunt me later this week."
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