Showtime defends Sasha Baron Cohen against accusations he posed as disabled veteran

Photo: Gavin Bond/SHOWTIME(NEW YORK) — Showtime has finally broken its silence regarding the controversy surrounding Sasha Baron Cohen’s new series, Who Is America?

Former GOP vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called Baron Cohen out in a blog post published on her website, accusing  Baron Cohen of “stolen valor” for tricking her into an interview by the comedian, whom she claims disguised himself as a disabled U.S. Veteran. The allegation has led to a #BoycottShowtime campaign on Twitter.

Following Sunday’s premiere of Who Is America, which featured an interview with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the network released a statement released on Tuesday, defending its star.

“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? the statement began. 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 went on to say, “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.”

Showtime insists the same holds true for Palin’s interview, noting, “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’s segment has yet to air.  Who Is America? airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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