Michael Stipe Tells Alec Baldwin His 'SNL' Impression is Partially to Blame for Donald Trump's Rise
"It is so sad that we have allowed ourselves to sink to this level of, really, entertainment."
Michael Stipe was the guest Tuesday on Alec Baldwin's WNYC talk show Here's the Thing, and the two took the occasion to discuss Donald Trump's presidential candidacy and the media's role in supporting it — including Baldwin's portrayal of Trump on NBC's Saturday Night Live.
During the rare interview, the two largely discussed Stipe's life and career in R.E.M., which disbanded after three decades together in 2011. But later on, the conversation turned to Stipe's environmental, social and political advocacy.
"It is so sad that we have allowed ourselves to sink to this level of, really, entertainment, that's what it is," said Stipe, who had been an active Bernie Sanders supporter. "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?" asked Stipe. "It's satire, it's brilliantly done, but it's still adding to the push of ... Warhol said, '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?"
Baldwin replied, "When I was approached by [SNL producer] Lorne [Michaels], who is a friend of mine, to do it, my first impulse was 'no.' Because in order to do that effectively, you need to have at least some appreciation of the person ... for which Trump I have none."
He continued, "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. They needed a release."
Stipe added that while he has his concerns about Hillary Clinton's possible presidency, he said that in this election "we all have to vote against Donald Trump."
Elsewhere, Stipe said that while he "is not prepared nor ready to be a pop star again," he produced and co-wrote the new Fischerspooner album. He also revealed that he had been offered Kevin Spacey's psychopathic killer role in David Fincher's 1995 film Se7en, but had to turn it down because R.E.M. was going on tour the same month they started filming.
"They wanted someone very unexpected," he said.
To further add to Stipe's saga of a life, he told Baldwin that Prince had "always hated" him because R.E.M. owned all their master recordings, something the iconic musician spent years and years fighting for.
Listen to the full interview below.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.