February 19th, 2010
06:31 PM ET
4 years ago

‘Family Guy’ actress defends portrayal that irked Palin

(CNN) - The actress who lent her voice to a character with Down syndrome on a recent episode of Fox's "Family Guy" is defending the portrayal against attacks from Sarah Palin.

Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who herself has Down syndrome, said the scene was merely meant to be sarcastic.

"I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor," she said in an e-mail to the New York Times. "I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny. I think the word is 'sarcasm.' In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life."

In Sunday's episode, a teenaged female character with Down syndrome told another character that "my mom is the former governor of Alaska." A song and dance routine by another character also used language that ridiculed people with disabilities.

Palin, whose 22-month-old son, Trig, has the genetic disorder, said on her Facebook page Monday that she was too angry to offer a coherent response so she had her daughter, Bristol, release a full statement on the family's behalf.

"People are asking me to comment on yesterday's Fox show that felt like another kick in the gut," Palin, a Fox News contributor, wrote. "Bristol was one who asked what I thought of the show that mocked her baby brother, Trig (and/or others with special needs), in an episode yesterday. Instead of answering, I asked her what she thought. Here is her conscientious reply, which is a much more restrained and gracious statement than I want to make about an issue that begs the question, 'when is enough, enough?'"

Bristol Palin's statement was posted below her mother's Facebook entry, which read in part that the joke "hurt too much for us to remain silent."

"People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you'll ever meet," wrote Bristol. "Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them?"

Speaking to the New York Times, Friedman also said she did not view the joke as an insult.

"It's not really an insult. I was doing my role, I'm an actor. I'm entitled to say something. It was really funny. I was laughing at it. I had a nice time doing voiceover. It was my first time doing a voiceover, and I had fun," she said.


Filed under: Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. 1776

    The more Palin's opening her mouth, the dumber she looks. And there seems to be no end to her vast stupidity.

    February 19, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. AP in Illinois

    Question for Sarah Palin. Do you laugh when Rush Limbaugh uses the 'R' word on the air? He used it over 40 times on his show and you didn't say a word about it. Rahm Emanuel uses it in a conversation not meant for the public and you get all bent out of shape. Rush said it on the radio airwaves to millions of people. That is a huge difference in scope. If you are going to scold Family Guy, you need to scold El Rushbo. He doesn't get a free pass. Or does he? Your silence is quite telling about your character.

    February 19, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. garc

    I would pay someone to ask palin on camera, unscripted, without the use of her hand, to either spell or define the word 'satire'. Didn't you know only conservatives are allowed to use certain words in a derogatory manner?

    February 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Vindex

    Sarah Palin gave us the litmus test herself in her defense of Rush Limbaugh. If it's satire, it's ok. Or, does it have to be your right-wing buddies doing the "satire" for it to be ok, Sarah?

    February 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. Walter

    Palin walked right into that. They set that trap perfectly and proving once again that she's an intellectual light weight Palin fell for it. CNN should post all of Friedman's response, because she burns Palin hard. It was so awesome.

    February 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Kevin

    WHY is no outlet running the COMPLETE second paragraph of her statement which was : "In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."??????????

    February 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Jay - MN

    oh come on CNN!?! include Andrea's quote "My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes." that is a vital part of her response.

    February 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Craig

    Simply because the voice actress wtih Down Syndrome is not offended by this, does not mean that it is not in poor taste. Attacks on Sarah Palin have become common, and are understandable. They can even be very funny. She should be fully capable of defending herself (or not). It is when her children are regularly the focus of these cheap laughs, that I become concerned about the morality and maturity level of our society as a whole. Is it now alright to make jokes about a baby with Down's? Seriously? This is not alarming? I suppose this is perfectly fine and I should "lighten up"? Should we not keep the jokes about Sarah Palin ABOUT Sarah Palin and not her children. I hope this isn't viewed as a blind defense for Sarah Palin. I would NEVER vote her into any public office. It is a defense for tasteful humor. Hell, the joke wasn't even funny.

    Many jokes on "Family Guy" (what a stupid title for any type of show) require absolutely no wit in order to understand them. It is very disappointing to know that as long as there is an audience stupid enough to enjoy the content, there will always be someone (FOX in this instance, but Howard Stern, Sarah Silverman and countless others can share in this blame) ready to cash in on tasteless humor that any self respecting person would consider embarrassing.

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. William

    What a farce!! Palin is such a Phoney! & Such an opportunistic hypocrite! She makes her photo opped appearances.. w the kid in her arms & as soon as the lights & cameras are off she doesn't get near the kid! & let's be honest here everyone ... the kid, with or without a disability, was born out of wedlock to her minor daughter = a bastard grandchild.Way To Go! A shining tribute to Conservative, right wing Sarah's so called "family values" & "Just Say No" & "no sex education in schools" philosophies of child rearing! Her daughter's now ex- fiance has come out publicly & told what Sarah's REALLY like w the cameras gone, what a outright lie to us all re the whole "engagement" was!

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Jeff

    Hey CNN you left the last part of her statement: "My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes." Wow, kind of changes the tone doesnt it.

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Cynthia

    Whatever! Family Guy is the most disgusting show that is allowed on regular TV. It is way to raunchy and suggestive. I hate this show for all the right reasons. Many of my friends and family love this show, but I just can't even tolerate any part of the show. I guess when the man behind the scenes is a liberal it is ok for him to spew hate as long as it is done to everybody. I am sure if it was a conservative that was behind this show there would be protests and people up in arms. I choose not to watch this show and hope others will follow suit.

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. Carol

    Palin not able to offer a coherent response! That's nothing new.
    Andrea really put her in her place, and I am glad she mentioned that she was a "normal" person with a sense of humor, adding that her mother did not carry her around like a loaf of french bread looking for sympathy and votes!!!

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Darin

    Why do the Palin's feel comfortable saying I wanna KILL my grandmother or KILL my sister by supporting her lie about the death panels, but finds it too difficult to make a statement about a tasteless joke on a relatively harmless cartoon that is predicated on making fun of EVERYONE! It's hypocritical and weak. Anyone who does not see this for what it is...well that's because you don't want to.
    My advice Sara, don't pick fights, don't use snide one-liners and then complain when the volley is returned.

    February 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Justin Cider

    If Miss Palin truly cared about her son's condition she would be at home with him rather than gallivanting around the country promoting herself rather than the needs of people with Down Syndrome.

    Family Guy was not making fun of Down Syndrome, the moral of the episode (which Miss Palin would know if she bother to watch it) was that people with DS are just like everyone else, a bunch of self-centered jerks as Miss Palin demonstrates so well...

    Cheers to Family Guy and Seth MacFarlane for having the courage to bring a subject that some think it taboo to the mainstream and not for personal gain like Miss Palin, but for nothing else than to say "hey, it's ok to talk about"

    February 19, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Sparky

    So when the vulgar pigboy does it it's "satire" and when a CARTOON does it it's a "kick in the gut"?

    Go away you worthless phony skank, and take your kids Beebop, Flapjack, Twiddleedee and Trigger with you.

    Come back and run for President PLEASE

    February 19, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Hollywoodaholic

    This article leaves out her best comment ... "My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes." What a beautiful burn.

    February 19, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Cruzan Obama Mama

    This woman just makes herself look worse everyday. Guess she did not do her research to find out that actress doing the voice over actually has down syndrome as well. Just like everything else she is unprepared, but still feels the need to tout experience & knowledge without doing the leg work. Think before you speak Palin....anyone can see that, that was a sarcastic statement, if you know about the show Family Guy...plus you should know that you have a boy, not a girl...right?

    McCain you owe America such an apology for bring thismess upon us. You do realize that we are being laughed at around the world everytime she opens her mouth. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!!!!!!

    February 19, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. bennie new york

    The episode itself isn't meant to be offensive- rather, it has a pretty heartfelt tone. Palin's only upset that she was referenced.

    February 19, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. andy

    It dosen't take a sense of humor to realize the show is crap. It's about as funny as a funeral and aimed at people with 6th grade educations.

    February 19, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Susan

    every special needs child should be raised as Friedman was raised. make them confident and give a normal life, not use them as a prop for political gains.

    whoever thinks Palin is good for America is an idiot. She sure is smart to fools half the country and make millions. I can't believe she was paid $100,000 to speak what garbage she spoke at Tea Party convention.

    February 19, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. wagstaff

    God bless Ms. Friedman. I too have a child born with Down Syndrome and was pleased to see it treated with humor for a change. Ms. Palin grow up if you are going to play on the world wide stage learn to take it.

    February 19, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. janet

    Perception is nine-tenths of the situation.

    February 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Tom

    Palin said "she was too angry to offer a coherent response". When has she ever uttered anything coherent?

    February 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Lisa M.

    You go Andrea! I am a nurse who has worked with children with disabilities for 22 years. I hate to think that Mrs. Palin would use this for publicity but if the shoe fits.... Sending out Bristol to do the bidding is a bit much.

    February 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. mike

    when your child is ridiculed on national TV, because of a disability, a sense of humor does not factor in... it is Hollywoods constant lack of class or taste in what it puts out on the airwaves that has turned our society into a more corse, less tolerant, more violent society. But we viewers of these type of shows are to blame also.... for watching this junk....if this type of crass entertainment has no ratings, it will disappear...

    February 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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