Showtime Addresses Charges Against ‘Who Is America?’

Showtime has issued a statement taking issue with “widespread misinformation” related to new series Who is America? Sacha Baron Cohen stars in the controversial comedy series, which premiered July 15, and which some have charged with making fun of disabled people and war veterans.

According to Showtime, when playing the character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., 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 the July 15 episode, while interviewing Sen. Bernie Sanders as Dr. Ruddick, Sanders asked Ruddick if he is disabled. “He stated that he is not and uses a mobility scooter to conserve his energy,” said Showtime.

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Showtime added that 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.”

Palin has claimed Baron Cohen tricked her into appearing on the show.

Who is America? “explores the diverse individuals who populate our unique nation and features Baron Cohen experimenting in the playground of 2018 America,” according to Showtime.

Baron Cohen wrote and directed the seven episodes.

His previous work includes HBO’s Da Ali G Show and the film Borat.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.