Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who Is America?” series debuts on Showtime on July 15, 2018, and word is starting to trickle out about which political figures were likely “duped.” You can see a list of those names that have leaked out so far below.
Showtime called the program “the most dangerous show in the history of television,” and it’s been described as a “satirical half-hour series,” but some critics say it appears to be designed to mock conservatives and Donald Trump supporters. Fox News reported that a source claimed it was “a Hollywood hit job on GOP” complete with a conspiracy-theory-laden fake website and at least one character named Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick, supposedly played by Cohen.
Other indications point to politicians from both parties falling prey to Cohen’s skits. The first person to reveal that she was duped was a conservative, though: Former Alaska governor and John McCain’s vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Instagram footage indicates George W. Bush’s former Vice President Dick Cheney was probably hoodwinked too.
Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedian best known for his appearances as “Borat” and on “Da Ali G Show.” The show’s website contains a promo that features Cheney saying, “I hope you’ll tune in next week for an interview with me.” According to Variety, the show has seven episodes. It was written and directed by Sacha Baron Cohen and was kept a mystery until days before the launch.
According to CBS News, “The first episode of ‘Who is America?’ will air on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, July 15, and debut on streaming, online and on demand Sunday at midnight. Subsequent episodes will air on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.”
Reports Indie Wire: “‘Who Is America?’ premieres on streaming, online and On Demand this Sunday, July 15 at midnight ET (9 p.m. PT July 14), and will premiere on air that same night at 10 p.m. ET.”
The tease for the show says, “Who Is America? You know Ali G, Bruno, and Borat, but this summer Sacha Baron Cohen returns in a new series as you’ve never, ever seen him before. Who Is America? Series premiere Sunday, July 15 at 10pm ET/PT.” The premise of the show has been kept a mystery but what’s leaked out so far indicates it may be similar to past Cohen skits in which he tricked prominent people into sitting for interviews. It appears to have a political/American government focus and features Cohen in character/disguise.
Here’s the trailer or first “teaser” as Showtime called it:
Who was duped?
Here’s what you need to know:
Sarah Palin Called the Skit ‘Truly Sick’ & Said a Man She Now Thinks Was Cohen Disguised Himself as a Disabled U.S. Veteran
Sarah Palin wrote a lengthy post on Facebook on July 10, 2018 in which she claimed that she sat through a “long interview” thinking a man she now suspects was Sacha Baron Cohen was a disabled veteran. Here’s what she wrote in the post:
Yup – we were duped. Ya’ got me, Sacha. Feel better now?
I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick ‘humor’ of the British ‘comedian’ Sacha Baron Cohen, enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime.
This ‘legit opportunity’ to honor American Vets and contribute to a ‘legit Showtime historical documentary’ was requested of me via a speakers bureau.
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.
The challenge is to Cohen, CBS and Showtime: donate all proceeds to a charitable group that actually respects and supports American Vets. Mock politicians and innocent public personalities all you want, if that lets you sleep at night, but HOW DARE YOU mock those who have fought and served our country.
And as an aside, for further insight into the wealthy corporate enablers of this kind of ‘joke’, I’ll add that after great costs on our part in time and resources to contribute to their “documentary” the Cohen/CBS/Showtime production team purposefully dropped my daughter and me off at the wrong Washington, DC airport after the fake interview, knowing we’d miss all flights back home to Alaska. After refusing to take our calls to help get us out of the bind they’d put us in for three days, I wrote this off as yet another example of the sick nature that is media-slash-entertainment today.
Feel good and manly about your M.O., Sacha?
By the way, my daughter thinks you’re a piece of ****, Sacha. Every honorable American Vet should feel the same.
Daily Mail says the Palin situation happened in November 2017 and she was with Piper, her teenage daughter.
Matt Drudge Warned Other Public Figures About Cohen & Fox Named Other Names
In a tweet, Matt Drudge, who runs the popular conservative website The Drudge Report, claimed that Sacha Baron Cohen had hoodwinked prominent figures on both sides of the political aisle, including Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean as well as some media figures and a general (David Petraeus).
“Sacha Baron Cohen at it again!” Drudge tweeted. “This time for CBS/SHOWTIME. Lots of tricks played. Both Republicans and Democrats are getting caught up in the madness. Sacha has finked Cheney, Palin, Howard Dean, Alberto Gonzales, Bernie, Trent Lott, Patraeus (sic), Ted Koppel, and more… BEWARE!”
Roy Moore has now admitted he was duped.
The show promises to “explore the diverse individuals, from the infamous to the unknown across the political and cultural spectrum, who populate the unique nation.” It’s been kept under wraps.
However, Fox reported that, according to an unnamed insider, “Cohen went undercover to nail Republicans. Total hit piece on Dick Cheney, Sheriff Joe, Roy Moore and others. None of these people seemed to know they were duped. Total secret.”
The source further alleged to Fox: “I couldn’t believe how unbelievably partisan it is. They also interviewed Bernie Sanders but didn’t mock him at all. The crazy right-wing character was interviewing him with a bunch of stupid statistics that made no sense and he also did the same thing with Ted Koppel. The truth is, Sacha is really funny and good at what he does.”
However, Daily Beast notes that there is also a liberal character in the show in the form of “an NPR-listening, pussy hat-wearing progressive who is working through his grief over Hillary Clinton’s loss and his guilt about being a white, cisgender male by traveling the country to speak with Trump supporters.”
One spoof features Cohen convincing politicians and ex-politicians – like Joe Walsh and Trent Lott – supposedly agreeing to a program to train kindergartens in firearms to prevent school shootings. It’s called kinderguardians.
There May Be a Fake Website & Character Named ‘Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick’
Fox claims that this “fake website” was created as part of the show.
“This website is TRUTHBRARY.ORG. It is a collection of studies and investigations carried out by Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick for the good of the American people. Now it the time when the American people must take back control of our media,” the site reads.
The website is a collection of absurd supposedly right-wing conspiracy theories, ranging from “Liberals Hate the West” to “Hillary is a Satanist Illuminati.”
Fox News claims that Cohen plays Ruddick with Bernie Sanders, but he plays another character with Sheriff Joe and “an Israeli Mossad agent with Cheney.” The network claims that Cohen also went undercover to a Women’s March and to an active shooter workshop involving Georgia Republicans.
Cohen Teased an Interview With Dick Cheney Signing a ‘Waterboard’
Sacha Baron Cohen posted a video snippet on Instagram that appears to show an interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“Imagine if Sacha Baron Cohen had been undercover secretly filming a new show for a year,” the video starts. A heavily accented voice asks Cheney, who is sitting in a chair, “Dick Cheney is it possible to sign my waterboard kit?”
“Sure,” Cheney says.
The words “coming soon” appear on the screen, and then Cheney says, “That’s a first. That’s the first time I’ve ever signed a waterboard.”
Cohen Shared a Video Mocking Donald Trump & Trump University on Social Media
Cohen’s Instagram post before the Cheney video mocks President Donald Trump and Trump University, but it’s not clear how it figures into Cohen’s new show. In that post, Trump trash talks Cohen in a video. “This third-rate character named Sacha Baron Cohen, I only wish he that would’ve been punched in the face so many times right now, he’d be in a hospital,” Trump said in part.
“A message from your President @realDonaldTrump on Independence Day,” Cohen tweeted with the video. According to CBS, the video of Trump trashing Cohen dates to 2012 and related to Cohen dumping an urn of supposed ashes on Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars.
“Sacha graduates soon,” the Trump video concludes, before flashing the logo for Trump University.
Sacha Cohen Baron has interviewed Trump before:
Whether he managed to interview Trump again for the new show is yet to be seen.
Showtime’s CEO Praised Cohen’s ‘Audacity’ & ‘Bravery’
Showtime’s president had only positive things to say about the new show and Cohen and seemed to promise it would “cause a stir.”
“Sacha is a comedic genius who shocks you with his audacity, bravery and inventiveness,” Showtime Networks president and CEO David Nevins said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “He is the premier provocateur of our time, but not for the sake of ‘gotcha’ moments. Behind the elaborate setup is a genuine quest for the truth about people, places and politics. Nobody knows how to cause a stir like Sacha Baron Cohen, and it’s going to be fascinating to watch what happens when Who Is America? is released on the world.”
Showtime tried to hype the secrecy angle, previously saying in an online video, “We’d like to tell you about a new comedy that’s coming, but we can’t. The creators won’t let us show you a scene, the lawyers won’t let us tell you the name of the star, and we can’t even reveal the show’s title or we’d be breaking our non disclosure agreement.”