Backstage after the Emmys on Sunday night, a reporter asked Alec Baldwin about Sean Spicer’s appearance onstage. In Spicer’s cameo he came out grinning and riding a motorized podium, evoking Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation, clearly indicating he was aware of the joke and in on it. As Slate’s Christina Cauterucci wrote, the moment can be grouped together with Trump the candidate hosting Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon mussing Trump’s hair on his show. “Laughing with him only dulls the senses to his deeds.”
Considering Baldwin’s win for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Trump on SNL and his subsequent taunting speech, one might expect the actor to come down similarly hard on Trump’s former press secretary.
His response, however, was a bit less barbed:
The average person is very grateful for him to have a sense of humor and participate. I mean, Spicer obviously was compelled to do certain things that we might not have respected, we might not have admired, we might have been super critical of, in order to do his job. But I’ve done some jobs that are things that you shouldn’t admire or respect me for either. So he and I have that in common I suppose.
To quote Slate’s Sam Adams: “The difference is that when Sean Spicer sells his soul, it weakens the fabric of democracy, and when Alec Baldwin does it, you wind up with The Boss Baby.”
But let’s take a minute to really compare, for the sake of fairness.
In Blind, released in 2017, Baldwin plays a blind novelist who “rediscovers his passion for both life and writing when he embarks on an affair with the neglected wife of an indicted businessman.” From RogerEbert.com: “One doesn’t need perfect vision to quickly surmise that this sudsy affair among Manhattan swells is a glorified Hallmark Channel melodrama.”
Also in 2017, Sean Spicer couldn’t stop himself from talking about Hitler. When he explained why Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria, he claimed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s gas attack was unprecedented. “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he said.
Baldwin was so dissatisfied with the only movie he ever directed, the flop Shortcut to Happiness, that he asked the movie be credited to “Harry Kirkpatrick” instead. It was only released six years after being made, and he advised his fans not to see it.
During Spicer’s first White House press briefing, on Day Two of the presidency, he chided reporters and declared that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
Baldwin himself called the movie musical Rock of Ages, in which he plays a “shaggy-haired owner of a Whisky a Go Go-type Holywood club” a “complete disaster.” He told Vanity Fair, “A week in, you go, ‘Oh God, what have I done?’ ” Slate writer Dana Stevens had some kinder words for it and wrote that “once you accept the utter and profound inconsequentiality of Rock of Ages, there’s much to enjoy in it.”
Following in Kellyanne Conway’s footsteps, Spicer referenced a nonexistent Islamic terrorist attack in Atlanta to pad statistics to justify Trump’s Muslim ban.
In The Boss Baby, Baldwin voices a baby who’s also a businessman. Sean Spicer toed the party line, even if it meant failing to tell the public the truth.
Upon weighing the evidence, it’s a toss-up.