The week before Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America? debuted on Showtime, Sarah Palin accidentally gave the show some excellent publicity by attacking him for tricking her into an “evil, exploitive” and “sick” interview. Throughout the series—as Cohen brought down lawmakers and other right wing idiots—fans waited for infamous Palin interview, which had launched conservative outrage and threats of numerous lawsuits.
The Cohen character who interviewed Palin was named Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., a citizen journalist who runs the website Truthbary.org. Palin argued that this character was Cohen posing as a wounded veteran because Ruddick Jr. rides around in a mobility scooter. But this was not the case. Showtime defended Cohen’s character by pointing out in the first episode that Ruddick Jr. “stated that he is not and uses a mobility scooter to conserve his energy.”
But, after all this controversy, the Palin interview never arrived. Instead in the final credits of the last Who Is America? episode, the show thanked Palin as its “Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent).”
Now, months later, Cohen has finally explained why the Palin interview never saw the light of day. As Cohen told Deadline:
The upsetting answer is, I don’t think you missed much. There was a lot of pressure on me from the channel to put out Palin. And obviously, she did the only publicity for the show because I did zero interviews. There was no other publicity at all for the show. Thanks to her, people knew that the show was coming. But ultimately, I looked at the footage and it just wasn’t funny enough. For the pieces to be good, there has to be a good comic dynamic. She was just delivering these kind of rote answers, as if she was doing a campaign speech. And even though I sat with her I think for about two-and-a-half hours, there was no comedy gold.
Which seems disappointing, but the comedy gold ultimately came from Palin’s hilarious self-own.
What’s also interesting about this Deadline interview is the background of how Cohen prepared for some of these interviews. For example, to get ready for his big O.J. Simpson interview—where Cohen attempted to get him to confess to murder—he spent hours training with legendary FBI interrogators.
Even though his show was ultimately hit or miss, maybe the guy deserves his Golden Globe. I mean, he did end a shitty politician’s career.