News & Opinion | July 17, 2018 12:25 pm

Showtime Fights Claims Against Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who Is America?”

The cable network denies a Cohen character claimed he served in the military.

Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen onstage at the Friars Club Honoring Martin Scorsese With the Entertainment Icon Award at Cipriani Wall Street on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
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Showtime is speaking up against the accusations that Sacha Baron Cohen posed as a disabled veteran in his new series, Who is America? The pay cabler released a lengthy statement on Monday in which it denied Cohen’s character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., from the premiere episode of the series, claimed to have served in the military.

“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?’” a network spokesperson said, according to Variety. “Baron Cohen did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that. 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. 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. In both the interview with Governor Palin and the interview with Senator Sanders, he did not wear military apparel of any kind.”

Cohen was first accused of posing as a disabled veteran last week. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin said she was tricked into an interview with Cohen, who disguised himself as a former service member with a disability. However Variety reports that in the first episode of the series, which premiered Sunday, none of Cohen’s characters claimed to be veterans of the U.S. military