February 19th, 2010
06:31 PM ET
5 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. B

    Oh CNN...you should have quoted her in her entirety:
    "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 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. steve

    seems the whacko palin needs a little hopey changy stuff herself. Good thing we have a role mode for the uneducated masses in this country. Gives them someone like themselves to look up to! what a loser.

    February 19, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. BJs65

    Good for you Andrea – and you are most certainly right that having a sense of humor is a good thing. Satire is lost on people like Sarah Palin.

    Funny how she said it was "ok" when Rush said the R word because it was just "satire" but this isn't? pul-leeze.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Wonkie Javers

    I think it was appropriate for Trig's mother to come to his defence...aka Bristol.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. TW

    The publicity of this will make The Family Guy even bigger!! Way to go, Palin! Oh wait, she doesn't get sarcasm....... : )

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    It's called "FREDOM OF SPEECH" ms palin. Remeber crying about how yours was being trampled on? By the way, don't parade your kids around as political props and expect comedians not to use it in satire.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    I think Sarah is losing it mentally.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. WhoCares?

    She dishes it out every single day and whines when it come back.

    She is one of the most pathetic human beings I have ever seen.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. sonny chapman

    Andrea, you didn't do anything wrong. You ought to know by now that vicious social climbers & beauty contestants like Lady Sarah excel at childish games of "LOOK AT ME"

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. bamabill

    [Cue nasally Francis McDormand-esque "Fargo" voice]: "I totally agree with the guys on Family Guy. They were using it in satire. It was satire, guys. And we all know there's a big difference."

    Do we all know there's a big difference? Someone should remind Caribou Barbie about her Chris Wallace interview defending Mr. Oxycotin and bashing Rahm Emanuel.

    Rahm's middle name is "Israel," by the way. Does that mean Palin is hating on Israel? Sarah the anti-Semite...

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. miken

    To ridicule people with disabilities who cannot defend themselves is not sarcasm it humiliation and cruel. The actress thinks its funny obviously because it was directed at Palin. I would bet there are a great many jokes of sarcasm which could be aimed at jews or blacks or muslims that Friedman would never touch. Friedman rationalizes her humor because of her target and an approving liberal audience.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. rudy

    Ms. Andrea Fay, i believe your attempt at 'sarcasm' has crossed the line of decency.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. Ruth

    This is lame , even if the actress has Downs Syndrome, herself...mocking people with disbilities is cruel and heartless...what if Family Guy mocked the Obamas kids kinky hair or his older daughters lanky walk..there would be such outrage from both sides..the producer would have to move out of the country?? But..oh.. it's alright if the actress was black, had kinky hair and a lanky walk...

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Brad

    If Palin can't take a joke, even a tasteless one now, she definitely couldn't handle 4-years of perpetual criticism and jokes as president.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Debby

    Look who this woman wrote to The New York Times liberal rag enough said.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Chee

    I don't care much about politics or for Palin, but I definitely believe the line is crossed here.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. emma

    Sarah Palin needs to be ignored. She is receiving way too much coverage with her nonsense.

    February 19, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Clint, Wa.

    Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who herself has Down syndrome.
    My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life."
    Something of which Sarah knows nothing about.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. Geoff

    Why is this story leaving out Palin's hypocritical defense of Rush Limbaugh using the R-word after she blasted Rahm Emmanuel?

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Elle in WA

    I'm so glad someone – especially someone with down syndrome – has stepped up with a sense of humor. Too many people are too sensitive these days. Sarcasm and parody are just that – no need to make such a big deal out of it. Oh-wait, this is Sarah Palin, so I guess she needs to keep her name in the news somehow.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Katie

    I think it is fair for her to be defensive when the line appeared to be a jab at her two year old. You feel an obligation to vehomently protect a child who is too young to "have a sense of humor about it". I think a jab at Bristol by Family Guy would be just fine. She is big enough to handle it and hopefully have a sense of humor about it but that obviously isn't the case for the little one.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. rev_cletus

    Will no one rid us of this meddlesome spokesmodel? At long last, madam, have you no shame?

    Please – go back to the Great White North and STFU.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. Linney

    Good for this Ms. Friedman. If anything, she's telling Sarah Palin, and others like her, not to box her in. People with Down Syndrome or any intellectual disability do not fit neatly into compartments. They don't have all the same feelings, do not become offended by the same things and don't need to be treated the same as each other all the time. Ms. Friedman proves just that.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. Jen

    Though I was not a fan of Palin I do not see the humor in such a statement no matter who it was aimed at. The idea of making fun of someone who actually had a family member dealing with that condition is just poor humor. I am disappointed that Family Guy would air something to that nature.

    February 19, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. Dan

    Stop carting the kid around, he is not a photo-op prop. Remove him, and the rest of your family from the equation and allow only yourself as a target.

    February 19, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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