On Monday night's Amanpour & Co. on PBS, former CNN CEO and Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson interviewed Alec Baldwin about, among other things, his Donald Trump impression on Saturday Night Live. Baldwin admitted he didn't understand Trump, and that his impression is a "caricature....we're doing like an essence of Trump. His corrupt, amoral, Machiavellian nature is at the fore." Then he said he was distraught that being president didn't change Trump at all.
ALEC BALDWIN: Everybody that's had the job, this -- this seat has changed them. Except Trump. Trump is the only man in American history that the presidency of the United States has had no effect on him whatsoever. It hasn't changed him.
I thought he would change. After he won, which was horrifying to me, because if you're a New Yorker, you're on to Trump. He's not the host of The Apprentice who's fooled all these fly-over Americans that he's this crack businessman. We kind of know he's something else. But even so when he won, I thought to myself, he's gonna change. Give it a year, and we'll see a different Trump. And no. He's the same now -- which, this is the real tragedy. He's exactly the same today as he was back in November of 2016.
Isaacson knew Baldwin had stepped in it with the "fooled these flyover Americans" stuff. He asked "You just talked about the flyover Americans, though. I mean, do you -- you must understand the resentment a lot of people feel in this country that leads to a Donald Trump."
BALDWIN: I do, I do. Well I -- when I say flyover Americans I mean that -- that's a show business term in terms of demographics and I don't mean that with any -- in any pejorative sense. I mean, I live in a world where nobody watched The Apprentice. Nobody I know in the world I lived in in New York or L.A. or in the world I live ever watched The Apprentice. The Apprentice was a tedious, kind of silly show that was on the air -- that was a triumph for them and for [creator Mark] Burnett and all those people. They made a lot of money. But the idea that you'd show an edited version of this kind of hyper-stylized reality show and say that that's who that guy is -- this is acting!
There was an article, which I'm sure you saw that Larissa MacFarquhar wrote in The New Yorker were all about Kentucky and -- I think it was Kentucky or West Virginia where she went down there. And that's what they were saying. They were saying we don't necessarily support Trump or admire Trump but we know how much you hate him, elites -- northeastern elites in their mind. And -- and this is our chance to say F.U. to the rest of the country, which I found numbing.
This would seem to be the quote Baldwin was recalling, from a local history teacher:
“When people talk about Trump, they talk about how they don’t like the establishment or the élites...When they say that, they mean who they see on television—they envision people in New York City making fun of them and calling them stupid. Every time you leave the state, you get it—someone will say, Oh, you’re from West Virginia, do you date your cousin? Wow, you have shoes, wow you have teeth, are you sure you’re from West Virginia? So when they see that the media élite is driven out of their mind at the success of Donald Trump it makes them want to root for him. It’s like giving the middle finger to the rest of the country.”