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. AnProf

    It is not okay to make fun of anyone's Down Syndrome CHILD, regardless of the parents' political or social position.
    Friedman was being used.
    But please, go ahead leftists– continue to show your deranged nastiness, er wit, er, sarcasm, for all to see your true nature.

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. Beatrice powell=Lucas

    Oh My, That Bristol sure can use more correct language. much better than her mom.

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Garytown

    Looks like you left out part of Friedman'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."

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Ryan

    Wait – they used an actress who actually has Down Syndrome? Spin that one, Palin.

    Palin's selective outrage at this whole thing is ridiculous.

    Go away, please.

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Dan

    Can't something be really funny and offensive? This country needs thicker skin

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Tracy Walton

    Obviously, this woman will never be qualified to be President of the United States!!! Every President has had to suffer through jokes, parodies and other miscellaneous representations. And since when does Sarah Palin speak for the majority of the persons with disabilities? She is way too immature to be considered a viable candidate for the head of any state that has to deal with others

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Chris

    FYI – it's Down'S syndrome, not Down.

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Rob Selby

    Sarah Palin smells like fish.

    You right-wing tea baggers are evil. Screw you! Where was your concern for the country under 8 years of Bush?

    And, Sarah? It is so true. You are a RETARD! Ha!

    February 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. MEW

    The only thing to say is: Andrea, you go girl! Sarah (& the entire Failin family) shut the heck up already – no one give's a rats ass what you (for lack of a better word) think!

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Anon

    Palin is a complete idiot. Her defective genes caused her son to have downs syndrome, she should be beating herself up over it. In fact she should be fixed so she can't have any more defective kids and contribute her worthless genes to our gene pool. They were really making fun of her, her downs syndrome son probably is more intelligent and can communicate better than her.

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. John

    Why are the media outlets editing out the most important part of Miss Friedman's letter? Here is the full letter, unedited:

    "My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the "Extra Large Medium" episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine's day. Although they gave me red hair on the show, I am really a blonde. I also wore a red wig for my role in " Smudge" but I was a blonde in "Life Goes On". I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. 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. 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."

    Why is CNN afraid to post that last sentence, as it's the key to the entire letter?

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Adam

    Palin, if you don't want to be in the news, get out of our site. You have no chance of becoming President; unless maybe Texas leaves the Union and you preside over them.

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. J W

    Palin works for FOX, she is paid by FOX. If she is real about her feelings about the "Family Guy" skit, she should give FOX back all they paid her and quit her spot as a commentator. To do less is simply hypocritical, not a new position for Palin. Maybe donate the money to groups that advocate for special needs children. How about it Sarah ?

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Michael

    Palin has used her kid's disability as a political chip when it has suited her and been to her advantage to do so. Her entire life history so far has proven that if she is nothing else, she is a consummate and unapologetic opportunist.

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Mary

    Did Sarah Palin have all this sympathy for people with disabilities before he had a son with Down Syndrome? She is rude and sarcastic when speaking of President Obama and all Democrats it seems. I guess she has different standards for different people- what she thinks is ok to say about people and it's ok for Limbaugh to use the word retards and all right wing conservatives to denigrate all Democrats but woe to anyone who might say anything to offend Sarah.

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. Jason

    "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"

    Yeah, it was anger that prohibited Palin from offering a coherent response. All she ever does is offer incoherent responses... why stop now?

    February 19, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. Dave

    Sarah Palin is a prime exampe of whats wrong with a good portion of the US. She plays up to the most ignorant and uneducated segment of US society and they eat it up out of ignorance. Why does she get any press at all? She is a complete embarrassment.

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Ms. Palin thinks that she is the only one with a disabled child. She just wants to keep her name and face in the news. At least she is being paid enough money now a days to take care of her child properly. This woman is a joke. She needs to be at home taking care of her child instead of traveling around the country for big bucks. She is such an airhead.

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. jurby

    the Palins serioulsy need to get over themselves and learn to not take every joke that's even remotely coincidental to them personally. they also need to realize that not everything is a 'potshot' at them. you're in the public eye, Sarah. you need to realize that with that comes potshots and jokes. if you can't take it and let it roll off you then you need to get out of the public eye!

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. Chris

    You know, Sarah Palin is slowly turning into that annoying neighbourhood watch lady where everyone (to her) is trampling over her lawn. Go away Sarah, stop considering becoming President. Being President is a tad more complex than winning a beauty pageant.

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. Mike in NJ

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

    This says it all. And she wants to be president? I seem to remember a famous aphorism, something about 'heat' and 'kitchen.'

    You already quit once when 'it was better for your family," Ms. Palin – (After taking an oath to serve...) – perhaps getting out of the public spotlight, once and for all, would be the best course of action, if you find satire distasteful to your delicate sensibilities.

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. kd

    False outrage for political gain – typical Palin.

    February 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Kimberly

    oh palin if i had a dollar for every FAKE controversy you TRIED to start I would be a rich woman. Your pathetic and sad, just GO AWAY! I mean come on hun, 12% approval??? Whats that tell you??? SHUT UP!!! WHAH WHAH WHAH! Im not sure who is worse you or tiger woods?

    February 19, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. American

    Palin, herself, is the joke.

    February 19, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. In ATL

    If you believe Bristol Palin wrote that statement, I have an oceanfront mansion next to Hugh Hefner to sell you.

    February 19, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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