Brow Beat

The Who Is America? Interview That Got Sarah Palin So Riled Up Might Not Even Air

Sarah Palin sits in a chair, speaking. She wears a pin with a bear on it.
Sarah Palin. Kris Connor/Getty Images

One of the most anticipated Who Is America? interviews might never see the light of day. In July, shortly after Sacha Baron Cohen’s new project was announced, Sarah Palin ranted about an encounter she and her daughter had with his character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., calling the comedian’s humor “evil, exploitive, sick” in a Facebook screed that doubled as incredible free advertising for the series. At the Television Critics Association, however, Showtime’s president of programming Gary Levine suggested there’s now a chance that audiences won’t even see the already-notorious Palin interview on Who Is America?.


When asked about when the segment would air, Levine reportedly said, “There are several people who have thrown themselves in front of buses that may not be headed their way.” He did not directly answer reporters who asked whether that meant that Palin’s interview would not air at all or whether it would be omitted due to legal reasons. “Sacha is refining stuff right up to the moment it goes on the air,” he said instead. “He screens stuff for audiences. It all feels off the cuff, but it’s remarkably researched.”


Palin, who says she was invited “to honor American Vets and contribute to a ‘legit Showtime historical documentary,’ ” has publicly dared Baron Cohen to show the interview. “Here is my challenge, shallow Sacha boy: go ahead—air the footage,” she wrote. “Experience tells us it will be heavily edited, not pretty, and intended to humiliate.” Maybe so, but up until now, Who Is America? has shown that the humiliation of its subjects is determined not by Baron Cohen’s outrageous antics but by their own behavior in front of the cameras, for better or worse.

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