December 15th, 2008
01:02 PM ET
5 years ago

Paterson's office says SNL went too far

CNN

CNN's Alina Cho reports Gov. Paterson is unhappy with how SNL portrayed him.

(CNN) - New York Gov. David Paterson's office says Saturday Night Live went too far in its portrayal of the legally blind governor over the weekend.

SNL, famous for mocking politicians and newsmakers, portrayed the governor in a four-minute "Weekend Update" segment as confused and disoriented - often looking in the wrong direction and mistakenly walking in front of the camera when it was not his turn to speak.

SNL's version of the governor, played by cast member Fred Armisen, also refers to using cocaine and says he became governor of New York due to a "sex scandal I was miraculously not at the center of.”

A spokesman for Paterson, who became governor of New York last spring after then-Gov Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign amid a sex scandal, suggested the skit was offensive to all people with physical disabilities.

"The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke,” said Risa Heller, Paterson's communications director. “However, this particular Saturday Night Live skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities.

“The governor is sure that ‘Saturday Night Live’ with all of its talent can find a way to be funny without being offensive,” she also said.

Paterson has said he is completely blind in his left eye and has limited vision in his right eye. He is the first legally blind man to be governor.

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Filed under: David Paterson
soundoff (366 Responses)
  1. SNL's new talent

    Nate at 10:31am –

    SNL needs to hire you! Too funny!

    December 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. nvmature

    I have to admit that this wasn't SNL's best work. Armisen takes a while to find the true angle on his impersonations. Still, the show is topical and intends no harm.

    December 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Pat in Atlanta

    Get over it folks. SNL often pushes the boundary of good taste and steps over it on occasion. Usually they're funny. If you don't like it don't watch. They are irreverent and question authority – bless them for doing it.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. ThunderBeing

    SNL has not been funny for a long, long time anyway. The only injustice here is that it is still taking up airwaves.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Tim

    This demeaning humor would be different from the degrading content on Sarah Palin how? It's a little different when the shoe's on the other foot.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. JV

    For all the liberals who are disturbed by this skit and saw nothing wrong with all the Sarah Palin skits.........whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Shut your whining! The bar for personal attacks on anybody has been set pretty low this year by you folks.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Shucks

    Since when are we not allowed to make jokes about only certain groups of people. Grow up people. It is a television comedy show that does satire on all subjects from gays, blacks, whites, poor, rich, and even stupid people. But now the show has reached an all time low? I don't think so. Some in the media thought it was in poor taste so they'll tell you so and you'll believe it because you are as gullable as they like you to be. Grow up and act like adults.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. WILL IN AZ

    I UNDERSTAND THAT HE HAS A DISABILITY,BUT FAIR IS FAIR.MOST PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY WANT TO BE TREATED JUST LIKE THE PEOPLE WITHOUT A BISABILITY. I WOULD CALL PALIN HANDICAP AND I LAUGH MY A-S OFF.

    December 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Anne

    How did Patterson see the skit? He's Blind.

    It was pretty funny–actually. But maybe in that poor taste kind of way.

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. KampBell_BrOwn SUx

    Patti in NYC: to answer your question , YES! GOPS shd be laughed at.

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Sandy

    While mocking Palin, SNL used her own words. If they made fun of the way she wears her lipstick way past her lips, then they would have crossed the line. If they had made fun of Paterson having affairs and meeting in the Days Inn, that would have been funny. Ridiculing someone because they're blind is a low blow.

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Having experience working with people with physical and mental disabilities makes you knowlegeable and it's no laughing joke. It can be difficult but it's also rewarding when you learn from it. SNL is way out of line.

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. brett

    he would have an argument if he actually "saw" the skit

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Trace

    There's a difference between making fun of McCain/Palin and someone who is doing their job and happens to be blind. Governor Patterson can't help being blind and McCain/Palin can't help but be dated and stupid.

    December 15, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Sean

    This is what's wrong with this country! People can't laugh at anything anymore. TOO MUCH P/C. Everyone goes running to the media when they get "offended". Oh, I'm sorry for hurting your feelings." NOT! GROW UP AND DON"T BE A WUSS!

    December 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. ryan

    First off Joan you are a fool. People are to sensitive these days. No one can take a joke. I didn’t find the skit that funny but far from offensive. So anyone that has a disability can’t be made fun of? That is malarkey. Also most people I know that are “handicapped” (this term is much more preferred than disability which is funny because everyone that has been offended has used the word disability instead so go figure) don’t get offended by this kind of stuff. Also to the conservative leaning minded people commenting on that SNL is finally making fun of Dems you have a short memory. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jackson, Sharpton have been mainstays on SNL for over a decade. A week ago they lampooned Obama for his perceived ability to keep it cool. This reaction to the skit upsets me far more than anything ever done on the Comedy Show called SNL. Watch O’Reilly or listen to Limbaugh to hear truly offensive hate spewed from some ones mouth. I have heard both of them blame a girl for getting raped and because her car broke down and was wearin a skirt.. That is offensive not a sketch COMEDY SHOW.

    December 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. George in SF

    I'll bet not one of you shocked and horrified libbers were in the least way offended by SNL's Todd Palin incest skit. Nope, not a word out of you then but listen to you whine now.

    December 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. grahame

    What's all this about not making fun of people who have a disability?
    Sarah Palin is fair game except her disability is stupidity. So go and choose. If you want good taste then watch reruns of 'Petticoat Junction.

    December 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Richard Komi

    While I am a big fan of saturday night live, I want to say that it is offensive to mock people with dissabilities knowing that they are in that situation through no fault of theirs. Nobody will choose to be dissable knowing it is a difficult life to live but Saturday night live can choose to do the right thing by not making a mockery of the Honorable governor or any body with any dissabilitiy.

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Dolores

    IT WAS A JOKE!!!!!!!!!! If a person is willing to be in public office or in any situation where they are in the public eye, they must grow thick skin and not be offended by these depictions!
    I say the governor ought to be proud of his accomplishments and hold his head up high.
    In this time of great stress, we have to have a little something to laugh at - it was his turn this time!
    Fight the good fight, Gov!

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Jeremy

    This is no surprise to me. Saturday Night Live has been utterly unwatchable for at least five years now, and now the writers have simply resorted to pointing and laughing at the handicapped. I'm happy to say I have not watched an episode of SNL in years and have no plans to do so in the future. NBC and their entire breadth of programming is laughable, but not in a funny way.

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Why is SNL not doing Obama and his family????

    Must be fear of retaliation--It's the old adage, SNL is afraid to " pick on someone their own size."

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Sarah Palin MADE FUN OF US when she did her goofy stint on SNL.

    We had to pretend that she was actually.......FUNNY?

    Hardly!

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Jack

    Ok maybe its was in bad taste but tehy were making fun of the Govenor not blind people.

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Garu

    Was the Patterson skit written by Stuart Small? When it comes to cruel, unfunny, low blow "humor," nobody does it like Stuart "Al Franken" Small.

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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