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. Matt

    How did Paterson know it was offensive? Did he see it? Gotta go, I'm going to hell.

    December 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Gerda Edwards

    Oh puleaze.

    Comedy skits are a characiture of the person being portrayed. Whether it's the bumbling speech of Bush or Biden, the down-homsey talk of Palin, the robotic mannerisms of Clinton or Gore, the "ahhs," "uhmmms," and "you knows" of Obama, the limited-movement of McCain's arms, or anything else that highlights the personal characteristics of that individual, it's always overly played-out.

    To think that when it's being done to someone who has a physical disability somehow "implies that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities" is dicriminatory thinking itself.

    December 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Loren

    Wow...and if Gov. Paterson hadn't complained, I would never have known about this skit. The "Streisand effect" strikes again.

    December 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. proud army and navy mom

    SNL did go too far and should apologize. However, the skit on Blago was dead on the mark

    December 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Anonymous

    I have a physical diability and I'm not offended.

    December 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. Hank Irelan

    I thought they would have done one on the ILL Gov. Isn't it funnier?

    December 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Ms. Smith

    I agree with the basic point of this article. What is next, mimicing child abuse or rape? I stoped watching SNL years ago. They just aren't funny - whether being political or not. The writers are pathetic.

    December 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    It didn't seem the Dems complained much when McCain and Palin were getting lampooned. Make fun of a Democrat though and it's going too far. Just wait until SNL starts on Obama. The liberal wailing will reach new heights.

    December 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. mike

    SNL has to reach to these depths because the writers are not that good, and the show is not that funny.

    December 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. HoldenLitgo

    "SNL has not responded to CNN's request for comment on the portrayal."

    No response is the best response when responding to satire or responses to it. Too bad the governor's office couldn't see that. It's one of the reasons politicians are such easy targets: except in rare cases – like Obama, for instance – they don't know how to get over themselves.

    December 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. Howard

    Humor is only funny if it has more than a grain of truth behind it. HUmor about real people based on complete fiction really isn't funny at all. Has Paterson ever behaved in the manner that SNL depicted him? If not, then SNL ought to extend an on-the-air apology to the governor.

    December 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. Chris

    Being from another area of the country, I didn't know that Paterson was blind. More important, however, is that I watched the skit live and I didn't get any impression that he was blind. If I were to draw conclusions from the skit, it would be that Paterson was out of touch, eccentric,. The thing is that it is stupid to draw conclusions because it was a comedy skit.

    In hindsight, I can see how parts of the skit could have been seen as a poke at being blind.

    December 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. James

    Where was Governor Patterson when Sarah Palin was the butt of the jokes?

    December 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. Shari, NY

    People who make fun of other people's disabilities should bear in mind that sometimes life throw's you a curved ball.
    As to Bush's ducking of the size 10 shoe. He is lucky that he evaded the missle. If only his governance was as sharp as his reflexes!

    December 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Andy H

    I agree with Paterson's response to the skit. Even if it wasn't their goal, the SNL sketch made fun of all disable persons.

    I am a big fan of recent SNL work and writing, but I think they dropped the ball on this one and should apologize.

    December 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. Tom St Paul

    It was a shameful skit, the lowest form of humor. And I have been a SNL fan since the 70s. It's OK to poke fun of public figures who happen to be disabled, but to make the disability the focus of the humor is downright mean spirited and disrespectful of not only the target, but of the audience. I couldn't watch the whole thing, I wanted to go wash up.

    December 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. Brian West

    Um, It was comedy... if it doesn't offend someone then it wouldn't be funny.

    December 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. SG

    I saw this skit, it was a shame. It is one thing to make fun of politicians, I am all for that, it is another act like a person is stupid because they are blind. Not to mention, it wasn't funny, unless you are 8 years old and have no sense of right and wrong.

    December 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. Bryan, Bronx

    Oh come on...Its was pretty funny, even when Amy Poelherwas saying her good bye speech and he interrupted.

    December 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Wow

    I'm surprised anyone still watches SNL. It's overrated, and hasn't been funny in over a decade. But this is a new kind of low.

    December 15, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. Ivy

    Oh get a sense of humor, Governor. The day you took office, you should have known that you would be subject to the same ridicule that every other politician is subjected to. If they DIDN'T make fun of you, THAT would be discrimination.

    December 15, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. Erich

    WHen will politicians learn to stop whining about SNL skits?

    December 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. American Citizen

    Sorry!

    December 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. obama-mama

    Oh lighten up....It's not that serious.

    December 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. Chris Kelishes

    Lighten up, everyone. The skit was very funny but did not go too far. I'm sure SNL has respect for Patterson but wanted to make some people laugh. Remember: SNL always goes over the top no matter who they're making fun of. Remember John Belushi's Joe Cocker? It made Cocker look like a spastic disabled drunk. Will Farrell's Neil Diamond made Diamond look like a jerk who had no manners.
    Relax, everyone.

    December 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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