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. Pat Wohlfarth

    Sarah Palin has a bowl of oatmeal where her brain should be.

    February 19, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Diego

    Sarah Palin argues that people with disabilities cannot do everything that we do and therefore it is very insulting to hear a family guy character "mock" them. However the actress herself has down syndrome and she is doing something that any other person can do.

    So my question is, Sarah, why are you not encouraging this actress, who just like your son, has a disability, to continue doing what she is doing? in the end, this actress is only surpassing her own expectations.

    February 19, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. MommaM

    Reading this young lady's response and how different families react to things is enlightening. Her family has chosen to deal with her disability through laughter and supporting one another. Sarah Palin has always used her children as pawns in her political career. She is very quick to be critical when it suits her agenda. Wonder what her response would have been if she knew the actress herself has Down syndrone.

    February 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. newt

    Please stop reporting about sarah palin. Let this bag of junk dna return to the obscurity she richly deserves.

    February 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. If it looks like a duck.....

    So a character depicting a female teenager with Down's somehow equates to Palin's 22-month old male?? She sure knows how to stretch things, doesn't she?

    Congrats to the actress for standing her ground.

    February 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Jacob

    Sarah Palin MUST have a sense of humor!
    After all, her teenaged daughter gave birth then decided to become the self proclaimed face of abstinence!

    this woman is hysterical!

    February 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Tina

    I am so sick of Sarah Palin...Please do us all a favor and do not run for any position whatsoever !! PLEASE

    February 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. wendy crawford

    Sarah palin needs to get a grip on reality. The world do not revolve
    around her. Some of her friends and family should tell her she's
    makinfg a fool of herself every time she opens her mouth. Let some
    of the smarter women of the world show their faces and be heard.

    February 19, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. karen

    Family Guy makes fun of everything and everyone, including itself. It's witty and irreverent because so much of it is just SO WRONG!

    Frankly, It doesn't surprise me that the humor is beyond the reach of the Palins.

    February 19, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. madmatt

    Why does Sarah Palin want to keep handicapped people from working?

    February 19, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Erik

    I'm sorry, but I'm tired of CNN posting that the song and dance ridiculed people with disabilities. I have worked with children with disabilities, and there was nothing in that song that wasn't true or even cruel for that matter. It was having fun with the topic. And if Ms. Palin actually knew anything about special needs education like she claims to be a proponent of, she would know that people with disabilities don't want to be treated differently. They want to have a life just like everyone else and don't mind being the butt of a joke just like we ALL are in our lives. Looks like Ms. Palin just doesn't want to be the butt of the joke herself. Very sad!

    February 19, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Hip

    This is a joke. Family Guy is not directed to the lowest common denominator like your anchor says. It is a funny, witty, great show that makes sure to show nothing is out of bounds. That is their first ammendment right. I have no right to stop that and neither do you. Sarah Palin obviously watches the show or she would not have responded so fast. She is a waste of air. So, how about we stop giving her the 15 minutes that she does not deserve and we move forward with fantastic no holds barred Family Guy programming!

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. dan

    i also have a special needs child and feel that humor and REALLY talking about it help....through satire and sarcasm we can show our children that yes they are different but it is not something to whisper about. they are like everyone else. let them live and laugh at life and themselves. it is tough but by whispering about being different.. it does not help!!! we are all different. stop using our DIFFERENCES TO DIVIDE US. we as a people NOT our leaders need to say THIS DOES NOT OFFEND ME ! WETHER IT IS RACE OR A HANDICAP. we are different we need to get over it and tell our politicians we dont want to be seperated based on differences but joind in our commonalities...

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Captain D

    Sarah Palin is the biggest joke of all. What a piece of work. She defends her idol Rush Limbaugh when he uses the term "retard" to refer to Dems but then proceeds to vilify Rahm when he uses the same term to also refer to Dems. Is Palin too gutless to rebuke Rush when he uses the "hyper-offensive" term? Apparently, so. If she can't use the same feigned anger towards whoever uses the term, she needs to sit her ignorant, gutless, brainless behind down.

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Shel in GA

    If Palin wants us to consider her outrage as legitimate, then she must include Rush Limbaugh in her condemnation. Otherwise, she is being hypocritical.

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. joe

    sarah, now have bristol attack this talented young lady

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. Laurel

    When have any of her responses been coherent?

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Pchapin

    Where was Palin's outrage when Rush Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox or when Michael Savage stated that autisitc children just needed discipline? Seems anyone on the right can say anything they want, but if it comes from another source she is outraged. A believe the term for this is hypocritical.

    February 19, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. Penny

    I'm wondering why the NYTimes left out the last part of Ms. Friedman's letter that said: "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."

    I'm also wondering how FOX likes her now? Have they recognized yet that they, like John McCain, hired a diva without substance?

    February 19, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Hannah

    I ask you so called conservatives, is this what you consider presidential material. Pathetic. She was too angry to comment? What happens when she has her finger on the red button and another country ticks her off. Will she be too angry then.

    February 19, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. tim

    Uh Oh Mama Bear..what shall you say? what shall you say?

    February 19, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Danielle

    You know, maybe we should just sweep everything under the rug....all developmental disorders, racial issues, war, murders, well, just everything that might upset someone...then we can all live like the Cleevers, (ignorant to everything outside our own little worlds). Everyone is so uptight... I say we have national P.C.U. screening day. For all those who know and love that movie.. you know exactly what I'm talking about. "We're not gonna protest" LoL. 🙂

    February 19, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. ben jackson

    Sara Palin, the political celebrity who uses people for her own ends, makes a comment and the media jump for joy. Why? Because her rants create buzz. Does anyone really care what this lightweight purports to think? She couldn't respond coherently so she got her daughter to respond for her? This is someone that some in this country want to be President?
    You all must be kidding, right?
    Are there truly some folks out there that are afraid to learn and exhibit intelligence?
    Well, i guess Ms P is your kind of person.
    God help this country if this shell gets on a Presidential ticket.
    Maybe that will show some that "be careful what you wish for" has real meaning.

    February 19, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. reeves

    sarah palin keeps getting overly upset about this subject!
    when i saw the episode last weekend i knew this would be happening.

    February 19, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Chas in Iowa

    Things must be getting kinda slow for Sarah,........
    It's quite a step down to go after a comedy cartoon to get points with the press.
    Her affiliation with anybody is starting to get a bit weak. That is all but the right of wingnut folks.

    February 19, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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