As Sunday’s premiere of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new series approaches, the list of people who have admitted to being duped by the comic actor keeps growing.
Florida congressman Matt Gaetz on Friday became the most recent public figure to reveal that had unwittingly granted an interview to Cohen for his new Showtime show “Who Is America?” Details about the series are scant, but teaser released by Showtime and public comments from people who were apparently participated in the series, albeit unknowingly, indicate that “Who Is America?,” like Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show,” features the actor conducting interviews under the guise of several characters.
Gaetz, a Republican, told the Daily Beast that he was interviewed by a man claiming to be from Israel who he now believes was Cohen. “There were points in the interview where he wanted me to, like, hold up images of weapons systems and endorse those weapons systems,” Gaetz said. “And I said, I would not do that, of course. I don’t know these weapons systems, I’m not going to talk about them.”
He also told the Daily Beast that he’s a fan of Cohen’s work.
Presumably not a fan is Roy Moore. On Thursday the former Alabama judge and gubernatorial candidate issued a statement saying that he had agreed to attend a pro-Israel event that he later learned was staged by Cohen, who he described as dealing in “trickery, deception, and dishonesty.” Moore added, “Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits! It’s been a long time since I fought for my country in Vietnam. I’m ready to defend her again!” and also threatened legal action against Showtime if it airs footage of him at the event.
Also on Thursday, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio told Breitbart that he was interviewed by Cohen, who at the time was disguised as a Finnish comedian. Arpaio said that he took notes after the interview because he was made uneasy by the interviewer’s behavior, which included repeated use of words and phrases such as “blowjob” and “hand job.”
News anchor Ted Koppel told the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday that he had been interviewed by Cohen disguised as a wheelchair-bound right-wing blogger. Georgia talk-radio host Austin Rhodes told local television station WRDW that Cohen appeared on his show while posing as a left-wing college professor.
Dick Cheney was the first public figure to have been revealed to be duped by Cohen. Showtime used footage from an interview conducted with the former vice president in an early promo for the show. In the footage, Cheney signs a “waterboard kit” presented to him by Cohen’s character. Sarah Palin then announced in a blog post that Cohen interviewed her while posing as a disabled veteran. The former Alaska governor called Cohen’s comedy ““evil, exploitive, sick.” After Palin went public with her story, radio host and former congressman Joe Walsh took to Twitter to reveal that he had been at the pro-Israel event that Moore later said he spoke at.
“Strangest interview of my life,” Walsh wrote.
“Who Is America?” is scheduled to premiere at 9 p.m. PT, midnight ET Sunday night on Showtime.