- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” helped make the “monster” that beat Hillary Clinton in their race to the White House, former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe told the actor Tuesday.

The award-winning rock singer was making an Election Day appearance on Mr. Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” radio talk show on New York’s WNYC when he accused the actor of contributing to the Republican candidate’s rise by spoofing him frequently on “SNL in the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.

“It is so sad that we have allowed ourselves to sink to this level of really entertainment, that’s what it is,” Mr. Stipe, 56, said in the rare radio interview. “I blame media completely for it, including ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

“What does it feel like from inside? What does it feel like playing that character?” Mr. Stipe asked the actor. “It’s satire, it’s brilliantly done, but it’s still adding to the push of … Warhol said, I think, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. How have we created this monster? How have we put our particular American brand on this thing?”

According to Mr. Baldwin, he initially rejected the idea of portraying the Republican candidate for president upon being asked by “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels.

“When I was approached by Lorne, who is a friend of mine, to do it, my first impulse was ‘no,’” Mr. Baldwin said. “Because in order to do that effectively, you need to have some appreciation of the person … for which Trump I have none.”

“Wow,” replied the singer.

“I have had a wave of people — it’s kind of unsettling to me actually how many people come up to me all day long and they thank me because they needed something to laugh about,” the actor explained. “They needed a release.”

Mr. Baldwin, 58, has frequently portrayed Mr. Trump in a series of comedy sketches leading up to Election Day much to the chagrin of the president-elect.

“Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!” the GOP nominee tweeted last month after being mocked in a recent episode.

Mr. Stipe, a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s former party rival, Sen. Bernard Sanders, implored listeners to vote against Mr. Trump in Tuesday’s interview.

“I’m not a big fan … but all of us have to go and vote if not for someone, against someone. And we all have to vote against Donald Trump,” he said.

Mr. Stipe’s contributions to R.E.M. helped the Athens, Georgia-based rock band win multiple Grammys prior to its dissolution in 2011. He previously told Rolling Stone that he decided to back Mr. Sanders’ White House bid upon learning that he opposed the post-9/11 Patriot Act.

“He’s the senator who has consistently voted the way I would if I were a politician, and who has stood firm in his position and belief,” he told the magazine in February.

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