Alec Baldwin Defends Playing Donald Trump on SNL amid COVID-19 Hospitalization

"We thought the debate was something topical, and we didn't have anything with him in a hospital bed, but we had the debate," Alec Baldwin explained

Alec Baldwin
Photo: Alec Baldwin/Instagram

Alec Baldwin is addressing the backlash he said he's received for his portrayal of President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live's season 46 premiere over the weekend.

On Saturday, SNL aired a skit surrounding Trump's chaotic first presidential debate against Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Some criticized Baldwin's performance because, just days earlier, Trump was hospitalized with the coronavirus. While the skit primarily focused on poking fun at the debate, there were a few references to Trump's illness.

"We thought the debate was something topical, and we didn't have anything with him in a hospital bed, but we had the debate," Baldwin explained in a lengthy video on Instagram. "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."

The actor also added that if there was "ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill" that the show would have omitted the skit from the premiere.

"I would bet you everything I have that we wouldn't even get near that, in terms of content of the show," Baldwin said. "They would have done something else. I've seen that happen before."

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Trump confirmed that he and First Lady Melania Trump had both tested positive for the virus in the early hours of Friday morning. White House doctor Sean Conley went on to clarify over the weekend that Trump was first diagnosed Thursday evening.

White House officials have failed to clearly provide accurate information about Trump's health while his doctors made a number of contradictory statements and declined to answer many specific questions about his current status.

On Sunday morning, doctors told reporters during a press conference that Trump, 74, could potentially be discharged from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and back in the White House on Monday if he continues to improve. But they also said they were trying to project optimism and acknowledged some concerning problems, such as a fever on Friday and two times when Trump’s oxygen dropped.

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Jim Carrey as Joe Biden during the "First Debate" Cold Open on Saturday, October 3, 2020
Will Heath/NBC

"He has been up and around. Our plan today is to have him eat and drink, be up out of bed," said Dr. Brian Garibaldi. "[If] he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is to plan for discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House, where he can continue his treatment course."

Dr. Sean Dooley said the president "continues to improve" and has been without a fever since Friday morning, adding that Trump is "not complaining of shortness of breath" and is walking around his medical quarters in the hospital "without limitation or disability."

Addressing whether the president has been placed on supplemental oxygen during his treatment, Dr. Sean Conley said Trump had "two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation," which "certainly never" dropped to the low-80 percentile.

"We debated the reasons for this, and whether we'd even intervene," said Conley of the two episodes. "It was a determination of the team based on the timeline from the initial diagnosis that we initiate dexamethasone."

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid typically given to patients with severe COVID-19 cases.

Trump aides and other leading Republicans have repeatedly said he remains at work while hospitalized.

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