Alec Baldwin says executives at NBC stopped Saturday Night Live cast members and writers from telling viewers who to vote for in the lead up to last week’s presidential election.
Baldwin, who was hired by the show to impersonate Donald Trump this season, responded on Twitter to TIME television critic Daniel D’Addario, who wrote after this weekend’s episode that SNL lacked a point of view on the election. (The episode opened with Kate McKinnon, the show’s resident Hillary Clinton, playing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as Clinton; Baldwin’s Trump did not appear.)
“Across the dial, TV excelled this year at comedy that addressed the Trump campaign. That none of it, from Meyers’s acidic ‘A Closer Look’ segments to Samantha Bee’s fiery sermons, ensured a Clinton victory seems beyond the point, as comedy isn’t meant to be pure political advocacy — it’s meant to wring humor and insight out of the times in which we live,” D’Addario wrote. “SNL just saying ‘Crazy times, huh?’ wasn’t enough during Trump’s run, and it’s going to be inadequate to the point of pointlessness under a president who’s already divided America and placed oppositional press outlets under threat. The show can see it as an opportunity — to make itself great again by being as cutting, as wily, and as game for anything as the candidate it now purports to have been against the whole time. But first, it will need to actually be willing to offend with an actual point-of-view. No more songs — save the airtime for jokes.”
“How naive you are, [D’Addario],” Baldwin wrote in response to the piece, which ran on TIME.com (both TIME and EW are owned by Time Inc.). “SNL tell people who to vote for? Don’t think that doesn’t cross their mind. But NBC execs kill that.”
NBC had no official comment on Baldwin’s tweet. But a source close to the show noted SNL has been nonpartisan since 1975, and continues to maintain that position on a weekly basis.
In the final episode before the election, Baldwin and McKinnon — dressed as Trump and Clinton — broke character and ran through Times Square, in a plea for bipartisanship. The sketch ended with the two stars on the Studio 8H stage. “We can’t tell you who to vote for, but on Tuesday we all get a chance to choose what kind of country we want to live in,” McKinnon said. (McKinnon reportedly broke down in tears while saying that line during the show’s rehearsal.)
SNL came under fire last year, when it had Trump serve as host. “I think last fall, the people you thought were part of the moment, or what was happening, were Trump, Bernie and Hillary,” producer Lorne Michaels told Indiewire in an interview, when asked if he would have done anything different with regard to Trump acting as host. “And we had all three on the show pretty early. You catch a lot of grief for doing it but it’s what we’ve always done, and what I think the audience expects us to be doing.”
Read Baldwin’s tweet below.