'Who is America?' Cohen splits critics with TV return

Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? leaves viewers cringing and terrified

Sacha Baron Cohen has shocked viewers with his return to TV

Sacha Baron Cohen lied about his identity on "Who Is America?", but he never pretended to be a veteran, Showtime insisted Monday amid controversy.

The 46-year-old London-born comedian, who is best known for his comedy characters such as Ali G, Bruno and Borat, has been secretly filming the seven-episode series for the past year and the show debuted on Showtime in the USA on Sunday (July 15).

Last Tuesday, Palin, 54, slammed Cohen, claiming she had been "duped" into doing a sit-down interview and was among others in the public eye who had "fallen victim" to his "evil, exploitive, sick 'humor'".

California congressman Dana Rohrabacher was one of two Republican politicians filmed for an episode of "Who is America?", a series for cable's Showtime in which the British prankster assumes personas to satirize USA political and cultural life in the era of President Donald Trump.

Showtime and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen rebuffed former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's claim that she was "duped" into a prank interview for the British actor's new series.

Here's a clip of Cohen's character talking with Senator Bernie Sanders.

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But it was former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's allegations that Cohen had disguised himself as "a disabled U.S. Veteran, fake wheelchair and all" to trick her into an interview, that led to a Los Angeles billboard Monday morning that accused Cohen of "stolen valour".

"Baron Cohen did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that", the spokesperson said.

Ruddick is the same character Baron Cohen adopted while speaking with Palin, for a segment that has yet to air.

The show follows Cohen - who's also known for "Borat", "Bruno", and "Da Ali G Show" - as he takes on multiple different personas in an effort to shine satirical light on the age of Trump and intense partisan divide.

Showtime said in a statement that Cohen "did not present himself as a disabled veteran" or wear any military apparel when he met with Ms Palin. One of those characters is an Israeli anti-terror expert named Colonel Erran Morad who believes toddlers should have guns.

In the episode, the series' debut, Baron Cohen interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders in character as Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D. of Truthbrary.org, a blowhard conspiracy theorist of the likes found on fringe alt-right media.

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