December 15th, 2008
01:02 PM ET
9 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.

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Filed under: David Paterson
soundoff (366 Responses)
  1. Jean2

    While our country falls apart, this kind of STUFF gets too much air time. Humor is good but can be taken too far and this is an example.

    If you remember SNL used Palin's own words.

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Erik

    They weren't implying people with disabilities are incompetent; they were implying PATERSON is incompetent. And happens to be blind. What, did Paterson have problems with the Stevie Wonder impersonation? What should they do, ignore an aspect of someone simply because it's in poor taste to mock an incompetent man who happens to be blind? Get over yourself.

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Independent Voter

    PLEASE!! it's comedy and it's funny; don't try to use his handicap as a reason to not get picked on....people with disabilities want to be treated no different from anyone else so there it is!!

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. aliou


    What would people not say for money?

    That's why my tv is out after the news.

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    To Joann: any skits mocking Sarah Palin were not offensive to her, according to her own statements. This most recent skit was offensive to Gov. Paterson. Additionally, the skit was offensive to many people with disabilities. I don't know of any other stupid people who were offended by the mocking of Sarah Palin, as the mocking did not constitute attacks on those other stupid people personally. Besides, Gov. Paterson cannot help that his has a disability. Gov. Palin can surely help that she is stupid. She could get an actual education, read, watch the news, consider world affairs, etc.

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Rod

    Why didn't they ridicule Blagojevich instead? To answer Joann, no I love the mocking of Palin. She made herself a target of ridicule because of her ignorance & self-righteous attitude, and was a very deserving target. What did this guy do to be mocked? He lost his vision, that's so hilarious!

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. We get to see it all

    I do not think that disabilities should be made fun of..........neither do I think that sexism should be accepted. But no one cares if a Sarah Palin was made to look dumb or she was treated with disrespect because that is where SNL sees the place of women.

    Somebody needs to decide. Do we make mockery of everything for the sake of humor or do we start respecting people.

    December 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. R. Wilcox

    There is nothing funny whatsoever about being blind. It seems to amuse simple minds.

    December 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Sandy

    I think if they had satarized the governors affairs instead of his disability, I think they would have been ok. I also think a lot of people are not comfortable with SNL not being 'able' to find a black actor to portray black officials.

    December 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. demwit

    What are you expecting from a TV show in which a republican women can pull their biggest ratings in 15 years!?

    December 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Wally

    Let's all cry because SNL made fun of someone.

    December 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. Joe in NJ

    "The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush should get a medal of honor, his own TV or radio show and or 10 million dollars and held in very high esteem across the world."

    Aside from the fact that this has nothing to do with the topic being discussed, people should also realize that if the journalist had thrown his shoes at Saddam Hussein, he would have been executed and his family tortured.

    December 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. Ryan

    Grow up, people. SNL isn't the only one making fun of people about things they can't control. Heck, Don Rickles, one of the best comedians ever, does it every day. I'm sick of the PC police!

    December 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Wally

    "Land of the free, home of the offended"

    December 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. grannyv

    I rarely agree with politicians, but Patterson was spot on with this.

    December 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. TJ

    Sarah Palin was mocked each week for her handicap and noboby raised a stink about it.

    December 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. Jess

    SNL used Sarah Palin's own words in their skits so how could that have been offensive?

    December 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. miken

    The SNL skit was really more than just bad taste/not funny. It was another sign that NBC has gone far to far to the left. Good values and morals, good people are all at risk by the secular left. These people hate self made women like Palin and love muslim shoe throwers. I will work twice as hard to destroy their platform – secular and gay, illegal immmigrant and minorities first agenda.

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. therealist

    Mocking the intolerance of others is funny to progressives. And spewing hate through political divisiveness..., what a hoot.

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Pam

    Joann, in mocking Sarah Palin they were mocking her ignorance, not her disablitiy. The differance is that she can do something about her ignorance, he can do nothing about his disability.

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. David Newport, OR

    People don't tend to find humor offensive unless there is a grain of truth in the content. Bunch of whiners. I am so glad I am not "politically" correct.

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    Hey, I'm sorry people, but if you can laugh at one thing that is offensive to someone, than you can laugh at all things offensive to all people. You can't say it's ok to make fun of one thing and not the other. Thats why south park and family guy are so amazing, because they creat equality for all things offensive. BUT that's just my opinion.

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. bk79

    joann: one of the differences is that the "mocking" of palin actually *used* some of the exact quotes and lines that came out in her interviews. the sad thing about that whole situation was that there was no need for SNL to add any material – just needed to quote from the source.

    when i watched this skit on SNL, i wondered how the gov's office would react, if at all. i'm fine with satire, but i do think this also crossed the line...

    December 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Larry, MI

    When I first saw the skit, I had a nice laugh, but I can see how some may feel that SNL went too far focusing on the Governor's blindness.

    Joann, you're wrong to play politics with this. Sarah Palin made fun of herself on the show and never complained about how she was depicted on the show. Don't blame SNL for what others may have done to her in the media during the election.

    December 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Peggy the Unemployed

    It's one thing to mock someone's personaltiy quirks; it's offensive to make fun of someone's physical disability. Would SNL do a skit mocking someone with alztheimer's or someone who like Christopher Reeve, who was a public figure with a disability? I think not.

    December 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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