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. Grow Up

    You are all waaaaaaaay to sensitive. Grow a pair and stop cyring.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Aevon

    joann: the difference is Sarah Palin was mocked for her actions and her comments. She was made fun of her ludicrous statements and her phoniness. That was political satire. They have mocked politicians in ways i disagreed with, but it was not offensive. Kind of like what they have done to ALL the politicians. but mocking a man purely based on the fact he is blind and for no other reason is where it crosses over to offensive.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Connie

    joann, I don't really understand how you can even begin to compare this with mocking Sarah Palin. She was mocked of her stupidity and by things she has said and done, the same way most celebs/politicians are mocked on this show. Here the governor is mocked and ridiculed over his physical handicap, portraying him as helpless and confused. It's a low blow, and completely offensive.

    December 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. WADE

    I think his cocaine habit and rampant adultery (his wife's included) is offensive. Maybe these "leaders" should clean up their own acts before expecting everyone to respect them. Good on SNL to bring to light the absurdity of those that lead in shame. The Governor of New York should not be able to do whatever he wants just because he is blind. SNL, I believe, is pointing that out.

    December 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. SNL Disgust

    Not Fair at all. A joke is a joke, however, to disrespect the blind is totally tasteless. SNL owes the governor of NY an apology.

    December 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. White person in Virginia

    Joann, you can't even compare making fun of Gov. Sarah Palin who has no disability other than being unintelligent to a blind person's physical disability. I see why the Republicans lost the elections!

    December 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Luke Brown, Charleston SC

    SNL is making it safe to make fun of people with disabilities again.

    Maybe they should do something on all the Americans who have come back from Iraq without arms, legs, and other body parts. There's 40,000 of them ... I'll bet those clever people at NBC could get a ton of laughs out of those suckers!

    December 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. jJeanette

    I am sorry but it was funny and Governor Patterson is not fit to be governor and he's a idiot. He make a fool of himself everytime he opens his mouth. The shoe throwning at Bush was even more funny I can't wait to see SNL this weekend

    December 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. Roy

    Nope, I don't think this merits all the hatred everyone is feeling towards SNL. The blind jokes in this skit were minimal, Armisen's impersonation was top-notch, and none of the dialogue ever mentions his blindness. There is in no way a connection between blindness and inability to function as a governor. All of this negativity is coming from over-sensitive cry babies itching to find a reason to get offended just so they can cause some kind of protest.

    December 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Dave in Atlanta

    The article is right Patterson does joke about his own condition, so if he says this particular joke went too far, I'd take him at his word.

    December 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Jarred Burr

    The skit was hilarious. What, cause someone has a disability we can't parody them? Come on, get over yourselves and your double standard. Besides, SNL has always been tasteless, and they frequently overstep their bounds. When the satire of Obama hosting soul train ran, it was slightly racists. When the satires of Sarah Palin ran, they were stereotyping. That is what SNL does... Duhhhhhh.... Don't like it, don't watch.
    Post #3 is an idiot.

    December 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Helen Keller

    The Governor of New York should feel fortunate that people respect him for his abilities and not look down on him for his disabilities. Public perception has come a very long way since my day when people were closeted away if they had any diseases. My take is that they treated him like anyone else. You betcha!

    December 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Mike

    Gee...suddenly the shoe is on the other foot and you liberals can't take it? To bad.
    Oh, and to "ObamaIsWayBetterThanBush", President Bush is your president, like it or not; would you feel the same way about this if President-Elect Obama was humiliated on international TV? I know I wouldn't, and I didn't vote for him. He will be my president and he will have my respect. This was totally uncalled for and you as an American sould feel the same way, regardless of your feeling for the man himself.

    December 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Jody West

    You see!! When the liberals get poked fun at, they whine and cry. Come on libs!!! Laugh, because laughter is the best medicine!!! Liberals/Democrats are off limits, I guess????? I just hope SNL really pokes fun at the next??? president!!!!

    December 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. We're NOT "your friends"!!!

    I didn't see the skit, but after I did I does seem that SNL took it a little too far. That's my Gov. man, back off!!! But seriously you can't compare this to what they did to sarah palin. She had a disability that can be cured by actually reading about the world around you, she's just a plain old idiot. The Gov. has a disability that he cannot control, or has any control over. They shouldn't have ridiculed him because of it.

    December 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Aevon

    Obama and Blagojevich – Joined at the Hip!: and your proof of this conspiracy between the two is...?

    December 15, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. marshall

    you intolerant morons crack me up. as long as they're mocking a "stupid" republican, it's fair game. But don't you DARE insult one of us! BTW, the barbaric and uncivilized twit that threw a shoe at your president, should go to jail. More proff we never should have tried to help those ungrateful muslims. Just let them remain buried in the 13th century, where they can throw shoes, stone women and gays, and rape their children. I have no sympathy for these people anymore.

    December 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. Chip

    I'm usually the last person to be offended, and I usually get a kick out of low-brow sophmoric humor; but even I was offended by this skit. Making fun of someone's disability is pretty low and it's not funny.

    December 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Ernest

    Almost all the skits they put on SNL can be overboard, but when you come at a person who has no control of who they are that wrong. We have people talking about what about Palin, but what about Mccain and Obama. They painted a picture of Obama sleeping that’s was funny. If he was tired then he can help that by getting enough rest at night. But to go after someone who has no control for who they are that is sad. There should be boundaries.

    December 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Noel

    Yes, SNL is going too far! This could also be said about some of the things said about Bush, who also has a disability that involves reading and speaking, but yet people may fun.

    It's a sad world!

    December 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. anonymous in Big D

    SNL is a loser program for losers! I honestly cannot believe people watch that drivel! I, for one, have much better things to do with my time and want some stupid television show make fun of people! That's sick for sick minds.

    December 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Mike

    I love SNL, but I was completely turned off by their attempt to mock a blind person as confused and disoriented!!!

    December 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Claude,CalglaryAB

    I think the journalist that hurled the shoe at President Bush might have started a new trend that North Americans might indorse. I would suggest Governor Paterson wear football helmet with cage and visor for the next clown who decides to toss a shoe or pie. SNL skit is just a joke, just like Gene Moe"s halarious reporting! After all, Dr. Gupta said laughter is good for the vital organs in the body.

    December 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Jim in Fllorida

    Where's the outrage from the Left over the Palin skit? The skit that insinuated Palin's husband was involved with incest ?

    I am reading the outrage over the Patterson skit. The political Left can't have it both ways. Is the outrage because Patterson is Black? is Blind? is Black and blind?

    Perhaps the Left will get their wish and Franken can steal the Senate seat in Minnesota. Then he can participate with Reid's band of merry Demmies in the Senate, that's a comedy skit anyway.

    Hypocrites of the Left.

    December 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Sylvia

    Disabilities ARE NOT a joking matter. if you think so, then poke your own eyes out and lets see how funny that is!!!

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