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. emmyjo11

    Lighten up!!
    I'm tired of everything being perceived as discrimination. Physical, sexual, racial......Pretty soon we won't be able to talk at all. Not everything is said and done to be mean. Get a thicker skin and take it for what it was meant to be...comedy, not meanness.
    Can something be said or done unless it is about you?or your sex?or
    your race?or something that pertains to something about you or yours? If it is about somebody else it is funny...about you it is discrimination? Get over it!!!!

    December 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Linda

    I agree with Patterson. SNL was making it seem that people with eye impairments are also metally impaired, and that is an unfortunate statement to be made by SNL. I am heartened by the fact that even though people can be so ignorant to what a disabily is or isn't, that people with disabilities can become governors of states, and minorities presidents. There is always room for improvement (as with SNL), but this country ain't as bad as we make it out to be.

    December 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Joe

    Reminds me of the skit with Joe Piscepo and Eddie Murphy (Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder) singing to the tune of "ebony and Ivory". Wonder sings; "I am Black and you are White" Sinatra sings: "You are Blind as a Bat and I have sight " . Funny stuff!
    If people with disabilities didn't complain when SNL did a skit with Sarah Palins husband being accused of molesting his children, ("...he's doing those kids isn't he?") they shouldn't be offended with a skit involvong a blind governor.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Beth

    SNL is trying to desperately hold on to its 15 minutes of fame that ended years ago.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. Griswald

    This was completely tasteless. For a show that hasn't been funny since the days of Will Ferrell, it's very surprising that the writers and producers of Saturday Night Live thought that people would find humor at the expense of the handicapped. Perhaps they should watch footage of their own show from 10 years ago for a reminder of what's funny. Right now the show is offensive at best.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Rob

    It was in bad taste, but then, satire usually is.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Jim - CT

    I personally thought it was hillarious. Not enough blind humor in the mainstream these days.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Dino

    Anyone know the name of the guy that threw the shoes? He has a pretty good arm, by the way:) I'd like to honor this man. He has become a hero to so many in the world that hate George Bush's guts.

    Bush has a lot of nerve still defending the Iraq War. Of course, he never had to fight or die in it. Another right-wing chicken hawk.

    The gov of NY may be blind. But, not as blind as Bush.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Rob

    If he could take a joke, this wouldn't be an the definition of being able to take a joke...

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Michael

    Comedy is tricky, because comedians tend to push the envelop. Often, the risk creates brilliant material. Sometimes, the risk backfires. Perhaps, in this case, SNL went too far.

    December 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Maria

    It's called freedome of speech, eh, liberals? Doesn't feel so good when its aimed at you.

    December 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Morris

    Here is the difference with Palin and Paterson. Paterson cannot do anything to fix his disability. Palin can do a lot to fix her stupidity.

    They were making fun of Palin for being stupid something that can be fixed. You cannot effectively correct blindness that is why SNL went too far.

    December 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. joanie

    my son is 17 and is legally blind. he loves SNL but this upset him. come on, there's alot of other material out there for jokes. don't make fun of people with disabilities, it's just common decency.

    December 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Paul from NYC

    Remember when SNL was highly offensive and RELEVANT? They should pull no punches.

    December 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |

    I will boycott SNL until they give a SINCERE apology!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Laura

    Mocking people with disabilities is tasteless.

    To "Obama Is Way Better Than Bush"
    Take your stupid comment somewhere else, it has nothing to do with the article.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Alice

    Joann, the mocking of Sarah Palin was legitimate political humor – all candidates are mocked (she just gave the comedians more to work with). That is a far cry from mocking someone's disability. Nobody mocked Sarah Palin's down's syndrome baby.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |

    joann–sara palin doesn't have a disability. she's just stupid. Theres a difference

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Matt

    [nsert bleeding heart comment here]

    Apparently, CNN won't post anything that disagrees with people being whiners and crybabies about every little thing. Enough is enough. Suck it up you big babies. I don't complain when the Irish are depicted as drunks or baby machines or when white people are portrayed as all racists and tight-wad anal-retentive elitists. Grow a thicker skin for crying out loud. we've got more important things to worry about than whether jokes...and funny ones at that...made someone's feewings hurted.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. mr mister

    The difference between making fun of Palin is that she had control over the things SNL ridiculed her for (her behavior and statements), unlike the gov. of NY, who can not control his disability.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Obama and Blagojevich - Joined at the Hip!

    The skit was funny, the rest of the show sucked, as always.

    I'm waiting for the SNL skit linking Obama and Blagojevich. Since the press won't cover it, it's up to the alternate media, including lame comedy shows to do so.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Dave

    I only have one eye, and have vision problems with the other. I thought it was funny. I didn't think SNL was trying to disparage me. I don't even think I'm handicapped. Get off it. It's Monday, move on with the important things in your life. I can't wait to see who the next SNL "victim" is.

    December 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Salt

    I think SNL went overboard and should apologize.
    Blindness is not a choice that Paterson made. In Sarah Palin's case, being a self-centered, uneducated idiot is not a disability so I was no at all offended by how she was portrayed.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Malcom

    I think it was worse when they mocked Sarah Palin. However, it is their show so they can mock whomever they want.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Apples for sale

    Some of the really blind people are the ones posting on here that cant see the forest for the trees,but have a need to have their clueless comments posted every day.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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