LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Showtime says comedian Sacha Baron Cohen did not claim to be a disabled veteran to secure any interview subjects for his series “Who Is America,” despite claims from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the contrary.
“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?’ Baron Cohen did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that,” the statement issued Monday said.
Showtime also points out that Cohen’s character “did not wear military apparel of any kind” in his interviews with Senator Bernie Sanders and Palin and even specifies at one point in the show that he is not disabled.
In the first episode, Ruddick, as portrayed by Cohen, says he uses a mobility scooter to “conserve” his body’s “finite energy.”
“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,” the statement said.
Cohen’s show received much attention ahead of its premiere after a number of politicians, including Palin and former Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, said they’d been duped into appearing.
On the satirical program, Cohen spins off a concept he originated with “Da Ali G Show” by appearing as different characters in interview segments and skits with subjects who are not in on the joke.
The first episode featured appearances from former Mississippi senator Trent Lott, former congressman Joe Walsh, GOP congressmen Matt Gaetz, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Rep. Joe Wilson.
Showtime has not said when the episode featuring Palin will air.
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