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

Paterson's office says SNL went too far


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.

Full story

Filed under: David Paterson
soundoff (366 Responses)
  1. Pam

    I agree with him. That skit was at the very least distasteful. They weren't making fun of him for something stupid he said or did, they were making fun of the fact that he's blind. I'm surprised there hasn't been more backlash than this.

    December 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Matt

    I think everyone should view comic relief as just that. If you are a mature adult, you will judge someone on their actions and not how they are depicted.

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. George

    How come no one ever complains when SNL makes fun of the mentally incompetent? It is not funny to make fun of people with learning disabilities. They should apologize for all of the George Bush skits they have done over the years. Just because he has disabilities does not mean they should be able to poke fun at his lack of brain functionality. Poor George. Soon he will be able to play all day on his ranch with all his animal friends.

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |

    Give me a break, people, especially all of you who are saying you didn't actually even see the skit but just read the story. As was mentioned before, the skit made fun of somebody who happened to be blind. Besides, we already saw with Obama and McCain at the town hall debate that you don't even have to be blind to walk right in front of somebody's view or wander around aimlessly.

    Were the Blajogevich references on the show offensive to people with funky hair? On Weekend Update, they specifically made fun of just his hair for at least half a minute. Now, as a TRUE liberal, I don't care if they mock Democrats for whatever reason. You guys need to put aside your politics when it comes to humor and understand that comedy ought to be equal opportunity, nobody should be "off limits."

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. Jake

    I will NOW start watching SNL because some of you are boycotting it.

    Learn how to laugh at yourselves. We have the whole friggin' economy collapsing around us and you're upset about a few jokes from a comedy show?

    Get over it.

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. To AK

    I had never even heard of that skit, and I'm glad I hadn't! That's disgusting. The line needs to be drawn somewhere.

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Robert

    SNL portrayal of NY Governor. To the SNL think tank – Be ashamed. Be very ashamed. A new SNL low.

    December 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Kristen

    Very interesting...Now SNL has gone too far?? Funny, when they were mocking Sarah Palin, it was considered the funniest thing in the world-about incest, stupidity, etc. I think it was as funny or even funnier as the ones done on Palin. Can't have it one-sided.

    December 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. Jay

    So SNL is okay as long as they're skewering Palin, but not a democrat? At least Palin didn't start boo-hooing about it.

    December 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Jake

    Wally hit it right on:

    "Land of the Free, Home of the Offended"

    ... or more accurately... "Home of the self-righteously indignant".

    December 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Steve, NYC

    Gov Paterson has no right to say this skit went too far. Did he even see it? It was hysterical! "I want $50 worth of Circus Tickets"! Go SNL, funny again!

    December 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. just a guy, st louis

    To quote Sgt Hulka from "Stripes":

    Lighten up, Francis!

    Yes, the skit was tasteless and sophomoric. SNL is tasteless and sophomoric. If you don't like it, don't watch it!

    BTW, I am 50 years old and still enjoy Stripes and SNL.

    December 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Robin

    The skit wasn't as awful as you people say it is. People in this country need to grow a pair and stop becoming 'outraged' because some article says that a politician is outraged. Controversy in the US has become a way for people to get attention.

    December 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. jfp

    What a bunch of babies. Get a sense of humor. It is about time SNL got it's edge back that it has not had in years.

    December 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. JeffD

    I am 57 years old, permanently disabled, and I LOVED the Paterson skit on SNL. I laughed myself silly.

    Most "gimps" (a term used by us handicapped people to refer to ourselves) have a sense of humor about their condition. If we didn't, life could be rather miserable.

    The Paterson skit was not politically correct, and if it offended you, that's too bad. But as a card-carrying member of the gimp community, I thought it was hysterical - the funniest thing SNL has done in years!


    December 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. James

    Your insane liberal minds allows you people to believe that blasting Sarah Palin was ok because it was based on “reality” Give me a break!!! But this skit on the Gov is not ok because he is blind but not “stupid”? So if you believed that the Governor is blind and stupid it would be ok? You can’t see the double standard here??

    December 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. Matt

    Next one who whines...we're throwing our shoes at you...

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. Brian Bartz

    I had to quit watching SNL decades ago. The skits weren't funny, and you could see their stage signs flashing "APPLAUSE", to let people know when to clap. Aside from this incident and their lucky break with Palin, I didn't even know it was still on the air!

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. CraigW

    Apparently the Governor and his staff feel if you are blind, you must also be too stupid to figure out this is a joke. I am always amazed at how many people are quick to laugh at shows and jokes about others, but when their groups are poked fun at, they cry foul.

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Irritated in Fl

    I'm disabled and I understand it was just a skit. I've never been an avid watcher or fan of SNL but it has it's place in society. I'm not offended at all. I think the guy just has a chip on his shoulder but then again, doesn't the whole AA community?

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Katie, NYC

    I thought this was so funny. Lighten up, people. I about woke up the neighbors laughing so hard. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. MrBlindFace2

    Ok, a blind man is worried about how other disabled people might view the skit. Well i will tell you. They wont be viewing the skit at all, because they are blind. And fyi, no one ever told me that blind people were stupid too. I guess that makes me ignorant, but at least i can see that.

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. Seth

    Ok, let's get one thing straight, SNL did not just use what Palin said for mockery, they said her baby was a product of incest. ARE YOU PEOPLE CRAZY!? How is that less offensive than a blind man wandering around? I think the incest was slightly more disturbing. Get out of your double standard liberal little worlds. SNL has never actually poked fun at Obama either, it's always done with such caution, never anything remotely offensive.

    December 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. Ann Marie

    If I remember correctly, SNL made fun of Bob Dole not having a hand (which was lost in military service) and there wasn't a peep but oh yes that was a Republican and therefore it was funny.

    December 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. Indiana Voter

    Democrats think that SNL went too far for making fun of another democrat. What a surprise. I don't hear them complaining when it is a Republican. I bet if Paterson was a Republican, these same people whining about it would be laughing at it. Democrats are just offended that SNL had the gall to make fun of a Democrat for a change. Get used to it. Obama will bring a lot of material for SNL to use in the coming years.

    December 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15