Sarah Palin was the first public figure to admit that she had been “duped” by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his new Showtime series Who Is America? And now she won’t stop talking about it.
Baron Cohen himself is famously averse to sitting for interviews as himself—and according to Showtime will not be speaking to any press during the show’s seven-episode run starting Sunday — but he’s getting all the promotion he needs from people like Palin who went on Good Morning America on Friday seemingly on his behalf.
Palin told host Robin Roberts that the interview “proposed to me as a legitimate interview to speak about veterans’ issues in our military and current events to a new audience,” adding, “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.”
Calling Baron Cohen a “quote unquote comedian,” Palin said Baron Cohen is “obviously very good at lying, at duping people, because look at the long list now since I've come out and described my experience, all these other guys, all these men coming out now saying, oh, yeah, me too.”
Palin went on to say that the moment she realized something was awry was when Baron Cohen’s character, a right-wing conspiracy-monger named Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. PhD, started sharing his theory that Chelsea Clinton “was a recipient of a government-funded sex change.”
“It just got worse and worse and worse as the minutes went on in this bizarre, really embarrassing, humiliating interview,” Palin said of the interview, which was 100 percent designed to “embarrass” and “humiliate” her. But as Palin put it, “It mocked middle class Americans, it mocked our values, it mocked the disabled and it just got worse and worse.” Eventually, she said she thought “enough was enough” and took off her microphone and walked out of the room.
In her Facebook post earlier this week, Palin accused Baron Cohen of posing as a “disable US vet,” but as he responded to her, in character, a couple of days later, “I did NOT say I was a War Vet. I was in the service — not military, but United Parcel.” She challenged them to donate the proceeds to pro-veteran charities, but told Roberts, “nobody has taken me up on my offer.”
Palin said she knew Baron Cohen’s letter was a parody when she read the line, “Coincidentally, just like our Great President, I was sadly prevented from joining the regular army on account of bone spurs bein discovered in my testes.” Apparently the line before that—“I only fought for our country once—when I shot a Mexican who came onto my property”—didn’t tip her off.
“Many do share your outrage, don't get me wrong,” Roberts told Palin, “but there have been people saying, aren't you playing into what they want because many people didn't even realize this show was happening and now this is bringing more attention to it. Are you concerned about that?”
“That's a good point but, see, CBS and Showtime, they're going to be pimping this thing hard so they'll hear about it anyway,” Palin replied. In fact, the network kept the show a secret for nearly a year and did not plan to release any details about who was involved before it aired. “So for me to get out there and let people know what's coming, I think, is important.”
“And if people tune in to the show then they're going to see how middle class Americans are mocked and our values are mocked. This comedian too, he mocks gays, he mocks jews, he does these other episodes where the intent is to humiliate,” Palin added, in an utter misreading of Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, and his comedy targets, who have traditionally been anti-Semites and homophobes.
Palin ended the interview by saying, “I am very thankful I have a platform now, still.” That fact is remarkable. And this week, her platform but a major boost from Baron Cohen. Perhaps it’s only fair that she return the favor and promote the hell out of his new show.