Showtime fires back at Sarah Palin's claim that Sacha Baron Cohen posed as a veteran for 'Who Is America?' interview

Taryn Ryder
Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Palin (Photo: Getty Images)
Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Palin (Photo: Getty Images)

Showtime has finally released a statement regarding the drama surrounding Sacha Baron Cohen and his controversial new show, Who Is America? — and the network is firmly supporting its star.

Sarah Palin was one of the many political figures duped by the comedian, and she alleged that Cohen posed as a veteran for their awkward sit-down. The actor via his character, Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., PhD, denied saying he was a “war vet” to gain access to the former Republican vice presidential candidate, and Showtime is backing Cohen up, pointing to Sunday’s premiere episode as proof.

“There has been widespread misinformation over the past week about the character of Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., performed by Sacha Baron Cohen on the SHOWTIME comedy series WHO IS AMERICA?” the statement begins. “Baron Cohen did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that. In Sunday’s episode, during an interview with Senator Bernie Sanders, Baron Cohen in character as Dr. Ruddick was asked by the Senator if he is disabled, and he stated that he is not and uses a mobility scooter to conserve his energy.”

It’s true — Sanders blatantly asked Cohen, who was in disguise, if he has “a disability.” Cohen replied, “No I don’t. This here scooter is to conserve my body’s finite energy.”

Showtime’s statement continues, “In addition, Baron Cohen never presented himself as a veteran of the U.S. military to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during the booking process or during the filming of her interview, and contrary to her claims he did not appear in a wheelchair. In both the interview with Governor Palin and the interview with Senator Sanders, he did not wear military apparel of any kind.”

Sacha Baron Cohen interviews Bernie Sanders in character as Dr. Ruddick. (Photo: Organized Speech via YouTube)
Sacha Baron Cohen interviews Bernie Sanders in character as Dr. Ruddick. (Photo: Organized Speech via YouTube)

Palin was so heated over her exchange with Cohen that she went on Good Morning America to bash the actor’s ruse.

“It was proposed to me as a legitimate interview to speak about veterans issues and our military and current events to a new audience. It was supposed to be this big-time Showtime documentary, and it was passed on to me by a speakers’ bureau, which, you know, I would assume had done some vetting,” she told Robin Roberts. “This ‘comedian’ is obviously very good at lying, at duping people.”

The former Alaska governor said she knew something wasn’t right when Cohen, posed as Dr. Ruddick, claimed Chelsea Clinton was the recipient of a government-funded sex change.

“It just got worse and worse and worse as the minutes went on in this bizarre, um, really embarrassing, humiliating interview that mocked middle-class Americans. It mocked our values. It mocked the disabled. It just got worse and worse,” she said.

When informed that Cohen denied posing as a war vet, she called him a “proven liar,” adding, “nobody can believe a word he’s saying now as to his rebuttal.”

Palin wasn’t the only political figure peeved about the whole thing. Disgraced senatorial candidate Roy Moore is threatening legal action if his segment airs.

It remains to be seen if Cohen’s Who Is America? is a ratings hit, but we’re sure Palin’s free publicity didn’t hurt.

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