Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show Who Is America? premieres on Showtime on Sunday, and marks like Sarah Palin and failed Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore have already expressed outrage over the comedian’s brand of gotcha humor.
We don’t know much about Cohen’s new show, other than a synopsis billing it as a venture that “will explore the diverse individuals, from the infamous to the unknown across the political and cultural spectrum, who populate our unique nation.” The cryptic trailer Cohen tweeted on July 4 teased an appearance by former vice president and unrepentant ghoul Dick Cheney who is seen gleefully autographing a “waterboarding kit.” Anyone familiar with Cohen’s past work and his characters–Bruno, Ali G, and Borat–has already assumed that this series will include Cohen going deep into character posing as some kind of out of their depth journalist while inflicting deeply awkward interviews onto unwitting celebrities, politicians, and world leaders, making them look ridiculous in the process.
Despite the fact that Cohen and his characters are exponentially more recognizable than they were 10 or 15 years ago, he’s still managing to trick high profile marks into sitting down for interviews where they will ultimately look like schmucks. We know this because Palin and Moore have already issued statements ahead of the show’s premiere decrying the production, calling it “evil,” “exploitative,” and “defamatory.”
Palin also brutally owned herself via a Facebook post on Tuesday when she called Cohen out for duping her and one of her daughters while recording what she thought was a “‘legit opportunity’ to honor American Vets and contribute to a ‘legit Showtime historical documentary'” via invitation from what she believed was “a speakers bureau.” From Palin’s Facebook:
For my interview, my daughter and I were asked to travel across the country where Cohen (I presume) had heavily disguised himself as a disabled US Veteran, fake wheelchair and all. Out of respect for what I was led to believe would be a thoughtful discussion with someone who had served in uniform, I sat through a long “interview” full of Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm – but finally had enough and literally, physically removed my mic and walked out, much to Cohen’s chagrin. The disrespect of our US military and middle-class Americans via Cohen’s foreign commentaries under the guise of interview questions was perverse.
Here is my challenge, shallow Sacha boy: go ahead – air the footage. Experience tells us it will be heavily edited, not pretty, and intended to humiliate.
(It’s safe to assume Palin has never seen Da Ali G Show, right?)
Palin added that the production crew “purposefully” dropped Palin and her daughter off at the wrong airport where she claims they knew they would “miss all flights back home to Alaska.”
A source who is clearly close to Palin told People magazine that the question that prompted Palin to storm out of the interview, which was taped in November 2017, involved Chelsea Clinton and a sex reassignment operation.
“The request was very sophisticated and looked legit,” the source told People.
“All of it was obnoxious, but I think the last straw was when the interviewer asked about what he claimed was a government-funded sex-change operation for Chelsea Clinton … Cohen was trying to get Governor Palin to say something homophobic and hateful. She takes it personally when anyone goes after the children and families of politicians. She just thought, ‘What a horrible thing.’ She was particularly incensed about that.”
Palin demanded that Cohen and the networks donate profits from the series to wounded veterans. Cohen responded by revealing a letter he wrote via a new character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr, PhD who runs the clearly satirical far right wing site Truthbrary.org.
“I did NOT say I was a War Vet,” read the letter. “I was in the service – not military, but United Parcel and I only fought for my country once – when I shot a Mexican who came onto my property.”
Roy Moore threatened legal action against Cohen in a statement he released on Thursday, where he admitted to getting hoodwinked by the comedian who apparently lured him to D.C. to accept a fake award on for his support of Israel.
“I don’t need Sacha Cohen to tell me who America is, but I can tell him that America is a proud Nation which sprang from humble beginnings and a strong belief in God, virtue, and morality,” Moore said in the rambling and irate statement. “As an American, I would never hide my identity and deceive others only to mock and ridicule them as this Showtime series is designed to do. America is not only about being proud but about being brave and standing for what we believe.”
The entire statement is worth a read:
Perhaps Showtime should sent Palin and Moore fruit baskets as a thank you for all their free promotional work.