Pranked Conservatives Squeal: Sacha Baron Cohen Fake-Newsed Us!

Last week, while President Trump was off in Europe being a dick to Queen Elizabeth and pals with Vladimir Putin, Sacha Baron Cohen was giving the rest of us a double treat with his new CBS/Showtime series, not only by pranking right-wing politicians (including several well-known gun nuts he convinced to do insane promos for a guns-for-children program) but also with the resulting angry denunciations he drew from the dopes he punked — including Sarah Palin, Roy Moore, and Joe Arpaio — and the conservatives who rose to defend them from the one thing, besides universal healthcare and white minority status, that really terrifies them: being made fun of.

I hardly need explain that conservatives hate when artists make them look bad, and wage what they are pleased to call “culture war” to dispel this aesthetic black magic. As bullies particularly hate to be laughed at, they have a special animus toward comedians.

This is the reason for their years of shit fits over left-wing clowns, from Will Ferrell as George W. Bush to Zach Galifianakis trading rimshots with Barack Obama, and especially Jon Stewart and other liberal faux-newsman types — see, for example, Liberal Fascism author Jonah Goldberg in 2008, consoling himself after his disastrous Daily Show appearance with fan mail (“I found it impossible for me to sit through whatever you call that television appearance — it certainly wasn’t an interview — without feeling nauseated”).

This tendency has metastasized in the Trump era, something that’s to be expected, given that Trump is the ultimate conservative bully; also, Trump’s primary appeal is inchoate rage against elites, which includes popular artists, whom the average Trump supporter probably thinks got to be on TV or in the movies by swearing a blood oath to the Democratic Party on a Pizzagate child sex altar.

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One would think Cohen’s reputation for pranks was by now universally understood, having begun with his Da Ali G show eighteen years ago and continued through several popular movies, including the 2006 hit Borat. So it was a delightful surprise to see right-wing pols and pundits crying in the press that they’d been hoodwinked into saying horrible things because they thought Cohen was a real supporter — though none of them explained why that would make their endorsement of crazy ideas any less appalling.

Give some Cohen victims like Dick Cheney credit for taking their punking like pros, but Palin responded with her usual word salad, referring to “Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm,” saying the show mocked “middle-class Americans,” and doing the old stolen-valor thing, claiming Cohen had pretended to be a disabled veteran — which afforded Cohen a fresh opportunity to make fun of her: “I was in the service — not military, but United Parcel.” Arpaio made himself so ridiculous even Breitbart couldn’t cover for him (“He said he thought it was unusual that they didn’t offer to powder his face before the interview”).

The brethren stepped up to defend Palin and other victims of Cohen’s satirical sneak attack.

“New Sacha Baron Cohen series a Hollywood hit job on GOP, source says,” reported Hollie McKay at Fox News. “I couldn’t believe how unbelievably partisan it is,” said the unnamed “source.” “They also interviewed Bernie Sanders but didn’t mock him at all.” (Reportedly Sanders tried the unique strategy of calling out the ridiculous things Cohen said to him as ridiculous instead of promising to support them.)

Another unnamed source — this one reputed to be “close to Palin” — told Breitbart the show was “meant to mock Trump voters as a bunch of ignorant and offensive kooks.” This “source” strained verisimilitude a tad, particularly in declaring the prank would “backfire dramatically” because it was “the epitome of a contemptuous Hollywood enclave that hates the ordinary working class Americans who swept Donald Trump into office. This is exactly what the American people voted against in 2016.” (“Close to Palin” apparent means “press agent.”) But it appeared at Breitbart, whose readers probably think Sinclair Network must-runs are the spontaneous effusions of news anchors, so no one will notice.

Some of the cleverer conservatives tried PR techniques that were ancient in the days of Hedda Hopper: declaring the show a dud that no one should watch, and insisting that Cohen was a fading star using conservatives to revive his flagging career.

“ ‘Dumb,’ ‘Pointless,’ ‘Boring’: TV Critic Absolutely Destroys Sacha Baron Cohen’s New Show,” announced Joseph Curl at Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire. Curl praised Dominic Patten of Deadline, declaring that, unlike critics who liked the show — which opinion was after all just “the predictable take for Hollywood, which clearly despises President Trump and all Republicans” — Patten was simply “looking at the show without the normal liberal bias, just trying to inform potential viewers whether they should bother to tune in,” so his was the one honest opinion of the show and naturally the same as Joseph Curl’s.

Fox News’ Carley Shimkus and Howard Kurtz did their bit. “What Sacha Baron Cohen did to Sarah Palin was horrible,” huffed Shimkus, but she cautioned that when people react, Cohen “loves it, he feeds off it, it’s why he does what he does, so I do think that some of these conservative politicians sort of fell into that trap” — though, she quickly clarified, “You can’t blame them for complaining about this.”

“So we’re playing into his hands because we’re giving it some airtime,” harrumphed Kurtz. “Does CBS owe the public some kind of response to these low, slimy tactics?” Shimkus thought so, but again cautioned that seeking comment helped Cohen, because he “was completely irrelevant two and a half weeks ago.” “I’d frankly forgot that he even existed,” nodded Kurtz.

Thus, Shimkus and Kurtz agreed Cohen was counting on conservatives like them to talk about the show, as they were doing, and that was too bad.

At The Stream, John Zmirak called Cohen “Just Another Stale Comedian Attacking Safe Targets,” and also said he wanted to “punch Baron Cohen in the face for disrespecting veterans,” and furthermore, “I want to see the sketch, because it will probably be hilarious.” Adding to the confusion, Zmirak admitted he was once a fan of Cohen, but “by the time of the movie Borat, Baron Cohen largely abandoned his even-handed satire.” That’s right, Borat’s when Cohen went all-in for the libs; the bit where he wrestles his manager naked is pure gay propaganda.

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“Comedy used to be the one thing that transcended politics,” lamented The Federalist’s Joseph A. Wulfsohn, but now “the comedy branch of Hollywood,” which actually has its offices in Oxnard, “has chosen to narrow its target audience by alienating the roughly half of the nation who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election.” Those poor Pennsyltucky coal miners haven’t had a good laugh in eighteen months — nice going, libs! Liberals can do this, Wulfsohn went on, because “the Left owns comedy. They have for decades.” Liberals also own chocolate and rainy spring mornings, and they won’t share, but that’s another column.

The real problem with Cohen’s “so-called ‘comedy’ ” — yeah, I know it sounds like one of my gags, but he really did call it that — was that it was “lowering” America into a “bottomless pit of blind hostility and pessimism towards Republicans and Trump supporters,” wrote Wulfsohn. “Comedy is supposed to connect us as humans. Now it’s tearing us apart.” Therefore we should unite and together help the president scoop up babies at the border, put them in cages and make sure their parents can never find them again.

The brethren got some support from the Main Stream Media; after all, the dopes who believe in Palin, Moore, and Arpaio watch TV and buy magazines, too, and so rate some ass-kissing. People magazine reported that “a source” — ha, ha, ha — told them Palin “walked out of the prank interview after the disguised Cohen asked her a ‘horrible’ question about Chelsea Clinton.” Gasp! Surely bothsides can agree this is now a bipartisan matter.

“Is Sacha Baron Cohen’s Show ‘Who Is America?’ Too Deceptive?” chin-stroked E! News. “When it was Ali G, it was kind of fun to watch him just dupe everybody, because the stakes in the world felt kind of low,” said host Will Marfuggi. “Do you think that viewers will respond to this kind of political humor in this climate or is he too volatile?” To put it another way, should we only do political satire when things are actually OK? Didn’t The Great Dictator just make Hitler worse?

By the show’s opening on Sunday, normal viewers knew there was some sort of controversy over the show, while for conservatives there was no controversy at all — merely the conviction that, whatever bad or crazy things their leaders appeared to be doing, it was all a trick and a trap, a bid for attention by a Hollywoodist has-been and — like everything they see and hear about Donald Trump (even if it’s on tape) that Trump says didn’t happen — fake news.


Sarah Palin Bumped By Fox News Last Night

You’d think the last Republican Vice Presidential candidate would be a good person to speak about the current Republican National Convention, especially since she’s on the channel’s payroll anyway.

But Sarah Palin was bumped from her Fox TV appearances last night, as the lady herself admitted on her wildly literate Facebook page.

And she was dying to go on TV and talk a lot about the wonders of John McCain the war hero and his glorious truths, which were besmirched by the biased press four years ago, blah blah.

Gosh, the woman is not only unwavering in her demonizing of “the liberal media,” but she’s as loyal to her old comrades as an Alaskan husky.

I guess she still hasn’t seen Game Change.


This Picture Says It All


Leave It to Palin to Brighten Up Your Saturday with Dogs and Cocaine

It’s been almost four years since Sarah Palin made her way onto the national stage at the Republican National Convention. But, since the defeat of her and McCain in the election, we have been gifted with the constant recurrences of the Alaskan personality. Yes, we DVR’ed Game Change, too.

At first, Palin’s comedy would result in an eventual wince, knowing the chances that this woman could be sitting in the White House as we speak.
But, at this point, we can kumbaya in the fact that she never will – even if she mentions over and over again how there is still the chance that she will… at some point… in the near future. (Send in Bristol!)
So, her comedy is now a light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel in this grim political reality. And, at the RightOnline conference yesterday – targeting the “lamestream media” and praising conservative bloggers for finding the truth – she added another tally onto her list.
So, lay back and enjoy your Saturday with a mimosa and a solid tan while we spin you another tale in the Palin Chronicles.

Taking a page from Obama’s memoir “Dreams From My Father,” which fellow Voice writer Roy Edroso has pointed out as a trend amongst the right-wing blogosphere, Palin went after young Barry’s past. But not as a Kenyan-born Muslim; better yet, she had enough blow and dog-eating jokes to go around:

“That cocaine snorting, and what he ate – Fido? Rufus? I think it’s funny that the cocktail circuit gives me a hard time for eating elk and moose. Anybody here have a pet moose? There’s a difference.”
After hearing that, as we usually do with Sarah Barracuda, we have a few questions that must be attended to. And we’d like a few answers.
First, since when did journalists become associated with cocktails? That seems unfair, given the state of the economy; we prefer hard whiskey and gin drinks and PBRs, if anything.
Second, when did the media beat up Sarah over eating elk and moose? We remember the helicopter-caribou incident (or, as Slate called it, “Aerial Wolf Gunning 101“) but the media didn’t obsess over it that much.
Third, this guy has a pet moose. What’s wrong with that?
After she made the drug/dog comments, she went on to attack the ridiculous media attention her family has received: “I’ve got to have been divorced how many times? And moved to Montana, or was it the Hamptons?”
At some point during all of this, our attention moved on so we changed the channel to the re-runs of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Sarah Palin: HBO Movie Is Just “Hollywood Lies”

She hasn’t seen it, mind you, because it’s not important and she knows where her values are (with that twisted family of hers).

But she knows for a fact that HBO’s Game Change, starring Julianne Moore as the Alaska governor turned TV commentator, is the usual leftie-liberal, Obama-driven pack of “Hollywood lies.”


She and “the good John McCain” made a pact to avoid this thing (which debuted Saturday) and treat it as worthless propaganda not even worth glancing at — while giving her views on how awful it is because she can’t shut up.

The director thinks she should see it since they tried to create an evenhanded approach in which the characters have both strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, Moore actually makes you feel some sympathy for the woman, but don’t fall for it — Palin feels the film is a big nothing that should be ignored, remember?



Ever thought you’d be good at collaborating on a musical? Bring your ideas to the SoHo Playhouse tonight where the acclaimed comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy will take your suggestions for the title of a holiday musical to be created entirely on the spot. Past successful title suggestions from the audience have included “Text Me Santa The Musical!” and “Sarah Palin’s Reindeer The Musical!” A full band accompanies the wild song-and-dance numbers for a raucous and totally unpredictable 60-minute comedy.

Saturdays, 10 p.m. Starts: Nov. 19. Continues through Dec. 10, 2011


Sarah Palin, You’ve Been Broomfield’d! You Betcha Is Revelation-Free

Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is Nick Broomfield’s attempt to, as he puts it, “find out about the real Sarah from the people who know her best.” Broomfield, perhaps Britain’s most committed raker of American cultural muck, has long appeared on camera in his documentaries as both investigator and soundman, burnishing an identity as a faux-naive outsider. But his foreign credentials and deceptively lo-fi production methods mask the cunning (and sometimes contempt) behind his “benign” curiosity. In addition to cementing his doc-star bona fides, his hits—Kurt and Courtney (1998) and Biggie and Tupac (2002)—also successfully sold the illusion of transparency. By structuring his films as road-trip hunts for slippery subjects, Broomfield manages to cast his own, often highly entertaining manipulations as honesty while spinning any subject’s reluctance to submit to his interrogations as de facto admission of guilt. You Betcha!, Broomfield’s first documentary feature in five years, follows the same MO with diminishing returns. The hunt this time amounts to grievance-airing from a number of disgruntled former friends and colleagues, who mostly trot out grudges related to scandals so old (Troopergate, Palin’s lack of preparation on the McCain campaign) that even valid-seeming complaints play as unseemly for their staleness. It’s structured as a journey toward an interview with Sarah herself, which, of course, never happens, a failure that Broomfield, as usual, tries to sell as a kind of success. But for all the legitimate reasons to jeer Palin, should her rightful wariness of Broomfield’s camera be one of them?


Sarah Palin Is The Kim Kardashian Of Politics

That’s the contention of this very enjoyable article by Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News.

Says Lupica:

“As Bill Maher likes to put it, when Palin ran for Vice President, her idea of a ‘gotcha’ question was being asked what she likes to read.

“Palin’s truest talents,” insists Lupica, “involve looking good and being famous.”

He adds:

“Just about every policy question is a brain buster for Palin, but she is smart enough to know that if she ever did face the scrutiny of a presidential campaign she would be exposed as having about as much substance as Kim and Khloe and Kourtney and all the bubbleheads around them.”

This is an outrageous comparison!

If I were Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney, I would sue!


Sarah Palin Screwed Basketball Star, Did Coke and Pot, And Cheated On Todd

It seems the idiocy-spewing family-values robot is human after all.

According to The Enquirer, a tell-all book about Palin that will come out next week says she once scored with future hoops star Glen Rice (less than a year later, she was pregnant and eloped with Todd).

She did coke off a 55-gallon drum while snowmobiling. (That really redefines snowmobiling, no?)

And there was the Palin-denied six-month affair with Todd’s business partner, which Alaskans could probably see out of their igloos.

The Republican presidential wannabe is still standing plain and tall (well, plain, anyway), not responding as of yet to these claims from the same weekly that outed John Edwards as a sleazoid.

But expect her to put down the crack pipe and the black schlong at any moment and answer back really angrily, lol.


Sarah Palin, Flawless, in The Undefeated

“You missed the beginning where everybody’s cussin’ about her,” the volunteer at the table outside the “leaders only” screening of the new Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated, told me last month, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s pretty harsh.”

That’s about the only harshness you’ll find in the The Undefeated, which opens this week in select cities but not New York, and was made by director Stephen K. Bannon without Sarah Palin’s direct participation but with her clear blessing. The film uses significant portions from the audiobook of her memoir Going Rogue as voiceover, and when it debuted in Pella, Iowa, in June, she and her husband, Todd, attended the festivities. The movie, which charts her career as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, is less a documentary than a glowing two-hour infomercial for Sarah Palin, Presidential Candidate To-Be.

The purpose of The Undefeated, basically, is for people who currently work for Palin, or have in the past, to talk about her achievements and to bash her foes, who are cast as what one talking head calls “an uprising of hatred” against Palin. The former governor’s arguments with her detractors are described in the movie as “a spiritual battle.” She’s no longer just the folksy-aphorism-usin’ hockey mom of 2008—the film elevates her to nothing less than a fighter in a holy war, a lone holdout against the encroaching forces of darkness. “Are you ready to fight for your freedoms?” she is seen asking a roaring crowd last year. “OH YEAH!” shouted the guy behind me.

Bannon depicts Palin’s opponents as comic-book villains: sinister politicians in smoke-filled back rooms (Frank Murkowski, who lost to Palin in the 2002 gubernatorial primary); sexist, caddish news anchors (Chris Matthews); and bitter, unfulfilled feminists threatened by her flawless family life (referenced in generalization, but not by name), all united by their “hateful obsession” with Tearing Sarah Down. This cartoonish version of real life is paired with a just-as-caricatured view of Palin, who in this retelling is entirely without blemish, physical or political, and incapable of missteps. (Even the film’s title is a whitewashing—she was, in fact, The Defeated as John McCain’s running mate.)

While imparting no new insight, the film spends a numbing amount of time on every detail of Palin’s early career, but fades into fuzziness as it approaches the present day. One could argue, I suppose, that we all already know about present-day Palin, so better to learn about what kind of oil and gas commissioner she was in order to understand what kind of president she’ll make. But that’s not what’s driving Bannon here. Rather, The Undefeated is in love with the idea of Sarah Palin as an outsider and an upstart, so it doesn’t quite know how to talk about her growing fame and influence. This presents a curious situation (reminiscent of George W. Bush’s campaign, actually) in which a woman who has been in politics for close to 20 years, and who has served as a city councilor, mayor, governor, and vice-presidential candidate, is still described repeatedly as the “un-politician.”

By the film’s closing credits, we still have no clearer or more realistic picture of one of the most divisive, talked-about figures in national politics. In one stump speech shown near the end of The Undefeated, Palin exclaims brightly, “There’s nothing wrong in America a good ol’-fashioned election can’t fix!” That’s about as honest as this piece of propaganda.