US broadcaster Showtime has issued a statement calling out “widespread misinformation” about Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show Who is America?
Last week, before the series had aired, several of the politicians the actor had duped came out to criticise him for his actions. Former US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that she was tricked into travelling across the US to Washington, DC, where she claimed Baron Cohen was disguised as a wheelchair-bound US army veteran to interview her.
But now Showtime has clarified that the character is not disabled – that he just uses a mobility scooter “to conserve his energy” – and refuted the claim that he appeared as a military veteran.
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“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,” read the statement.
“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 continued: “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.”
The first episode of Who is America? aired in the UK on Monday 16th July and featured a string of Republican politicians endorsing Baron Cohen’s fake scheme advocating firearms training for children – much to the dismay and amusement of viewers.