February 19th, 2010
06:31 PM ET
13 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. RTB

    Ahh, the idiosyncrasies of of the one who is well known for lashing out at any one who might stand in her way.

    The Alaskan Air Head is beyond repulsive.

    February 19, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Joe

    Go get her Andrea! Good for you for having a mother that brought you up with a sense of humor. Sorry to say that palin doesn't even know what a sense of humor is. I'm sure it is difficult to go thruogh life with downs syndrome or any other syndrome but if you can laugh you can live and live a good life. Sarah will never have that. I love you Andrea.

    February 19, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Sgt. USMC

    I'm not one to say that it wasn't offensive. I think we are changing the way we see the world and everyone has a right to exist without being ridiculed. I will not defend people who make fun of other's disability with some freedom of speech b.s. so all I will say is that we should prepare to defend our actions and take responsibility for the pain and hurt it may cause. As far as Palin goes, I side with her on the fact that I wouldn't want someone making fun of my child. She is a big bullseye for all I care but her kid shouldn't be.

    February 19, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Andrew

    Ok, riddle me this...

    Do we really want a leader who admits she is "too angry to offer a coherent response" so he has her daughter offer one up?.

    Really? Too angry to be coherent. Ok, so how angry would she be if a terrorist attack happened during a prime time sporting event? Or if they blew up a national monument? When the phone rings at 3 a.m. do we want a leader who passes responses off to her advisors because she can't be coherent?

    February 19, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. liviapeacock

    When it takes a developmentally challenged person with Down's Syndrome to smack down the ever obtuse, thin-skinned and histrionic Ms. Palin, I know that our media have truly become obsolete.

    Well done, Andrea!

    February 19, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. SD Kevin

    Several points: 1st, this is one of the funniest shows on television 2nd, this show mocks anyone and everyone about pretty much anything – the daughter is often referred to as a man, the son isn't the smartest kid in class, the father is fat and they've mocked him repeatedly, the baby is gay and I can't even tell you how many gay jokes they've done 3rd, what the heck is up with this woman? she slams political correctness then selectively applies it to people with down syndrome. She's would definitely be a great candidate if you want someone who has no sense of humor and only cares about people all over the world with down syndrome.

    February 19, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. Jeff

    It's bad enough that Palin uses her mentally challenged son as a political tool, then she goes and does the drama queen bit. It's disgraceful when people do this. If an actual person with downs syndrome doesn't have a problem with it, she shouldn't either. I think shes mad that someone else is attempting to make headlines using the mentally challenged besides her. Thats what I think it is. Republicans please listen to this. Please. Due to the typical uninformed voters America has, Republicans have a great chance of taking back the White House and Congress. Knowing this, please try to find a better and more qualified candidate than Sarah Palin, please, for the good of the country not for partisan purposes.

    February 19, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Dustin

    I am by no means a Palin supporter but I have to agree with the former Governor on this one. I watch Family Guy almost regularly, but this joke took it a little too far. Trig isn't even old enough to defend himself yet. Also, "sarcasm" is not at all the word to describe the joke...I don't know where the actress seems to think that fits.

    I agree, a sense of humor is important in life. But if someone made a crack like that about my child, on national television no less, I think I would respond just as Palin did.

    February 19, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. arshavin

    We are all just out to attack you Palin! You and your family will never be safe!!! *end sarcasm*

    February 19, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Tom in Va

    Sarah Palin is Fox's darling.

    Yet somehow she seems surprised to find out that while being the mouth-peice for the GOP and all their "values", Fox also carries the most sexually-centric shows of ANY network by far.

    Is this stupidity on her part, or simply hypcritcal?

    February 19, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. No Incumbents 2010

    I disagree with Friedman because Palin is very funny. I thought the idea of her as VP was hilarious.

    February 19, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |

    Sarah Palin is a non-entity to me. Dont care about her opinon

    February 19, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Pete

    Dear CNN,

    You forgot to include the important part of Friedman's defense, so I will add it for you.

    "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."

    Let's not paint Palin in a better light than she deserves to be in, okay?

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

    This is why you're not Vice President. It is a TV show. Entertainment. Problem with politicians nowadays is you don't know the difference. Politics has BECOME entertainment since our elected officials can't seem to do anything else

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

    Andrea Fay Friedman for President in 2012!!!

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. Too late Tea Party

    keep the Palins and all neo conservatives out of the media..
    They are all for Big Business OVER everything else–the poor, the environment, peace.
    "government" or "social programs" are bad for them except for more military growth

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. Ron

    It was sick humor and meant to be a shot at Palin plain and simple.

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    You can't make this stuff up. In an effort to get her name in the news again, and make it all about her (yet again), Sarah Palin unknowingly attacks the work of an actress with Down Syndrome. Priceless. Keep up the good work, Sarah.

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. joy

    Thank you Andrea Fay Friedman for reminding the world that people with special needs (like Down Syndrome) are people first, each unique, just like the rest of us! Not all people are nice happy people, nor are all people with Down Syndrome or special needs nice happy people that make us feel good to have around! Each person has trouble in life and each has unique gifts to offer, whether we're in wheelchairs or have walkers or are disabled in some way–which if we live long enough is bound to happen to all of us. Let's open our eyes and see what each can contribute to the world. Let's tear down barriers that prevent the contributions of all, instead of tearing down one another!

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Bdm

    I am not a fan of Sarah Palin at all, but I think it was pretty mean to make fun of a baby with down syndrome. He is so innocent and then seeing pictures of this little guy, how could anyone poke any type of fun (or sarcasm) at him? Again, not a fan of Palin, but i completely agree with her on this issue.

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Nurse Lisa

    Just like Cheney who bristles when anyone brings up his gay daughter or Sarah's reation to jokes about unwed mothers – as long as someone is ashamed every attack will hurt. The repugs spout "family values" but don't even truly value their own family members. This "fake" outrage just keeps her name in the papers.

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. todd

    I guess it is ok to make fun of people with disabilities if you are a conservative talk show host, huh Palin?

    February 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. Gale

    "A sense of humor"? What kind of moron is this woman? In today's world we must be politically correct in everything, racial, sexual preference, weight, but it's O.K. to make fun of a Down Syndrome Baby? Hey Lady, get a real life!

    February 19, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. no name calling

    Dear Sarah,

    I think Andrea is more qualified to be president than you.

    And why is it that I know all of your children's names and histories, but nothing or little about other politicians children?

    Maybe if you would quit parading these poor souls in front the cameras for you own benefit, the media would leave them alone. Oh, but then YOU wouldn't get any attention.

    Furthermore, reacting to every little perceived insult, just improves the ratings for shows like Family Guy. I never saw the show before, but I am going to start watching now.


    Dear Abbey

    P.S. You may want to use Hillary and Bill Clinton as role models for parenting. Didn't Chelsea turn out to be a fine young women.

    February 19, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Mike G

    I'm trying to wrap my mind around "too angry for a coherent response".

    When Palin is calm she doesn't have a coherent response. Many someone can write something on her hand for her.

    February 19, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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