Washington, D.C. (April 18, 2017)—"Alec Baldwin has become America's deflator in chief, a weekly pinprick in Trump’s balloon,” writes Chris Jones in The Atlantic's May issue, online in full today. The cover story, “Alec Baldwin Gets Under Trump's Skin,” explores comedy, tragedy, and satire in our era of political chaos. Jones, a longtime magazine writer, obtained rare behind-the-scenes access to Saturday Night Live, spending a week on set with Baldwin as he prepared to host the show for a record 17th time—and chronicling his reluctant transformation into his wig-clad, spray-tanned presidential persona.
Also in the magazine: Caitlin Flanagan on the conservative backlash being created by late-night comedy; David Frum on Trump’s “teeth-grindedly stupid” plan to end Europe; and Franklin Foer on how Mexico could exact revenge on the U.S. by playing its “China card.” The May issue also includes the annual Money Report, with articles about how online shopping dupes us all and how Walmart is tricking people into saving money.
The full issue is online today, April 18, 2017, at TheAtlantic.com and will be on newsstands this week. Several pieces are detailed below.
COVER & FEATURES:
Alec Baldwin Gets Under Trump’s Skin: Since that first appearance of Alec Baldwin–as–Donald Trump debating Kate McKinnon–as– Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live last fall, Baldwin has become a staple of the show, propelling SNL to its most-watched season since 1993. Writer Chris Jones is witness to Baldwin’s transformation, spending a week on set as he prepared to host the show for a record 17th time. His transformation is a reluctant one, because Baldwin says his Trump character “lives on a parallel track with something very regrettable … I never really thought we’d have to go this far, but we do have to have these periodic shocks to the system to remind people again about their role in the process.” Along the way, Jones and Baldwin debate the role of satire and politics, particularly in troubled times. In modern America, we have long taken for granted the idea that our leaders should be able to laugh at themselves. But Trump doesn’t seem able to do that, and Baldwin has become our deflater in chief, a weekly pinprick in the president’s balloon. “If he was smart, he’d show up this week,” Baldwin tells Jones. “It would probably be over. He could end it. If he showed up.”