New York Gov. David Paterson wasn’t laughing when “Saturday Night Live” portrayed him in their Weekend Update segment as a blind, doofus drug addict – and neither were advocates for disabled persons, who also found the skit to be offensive.
"Now that [Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin's not around, they seem to have run out of material," said Paterson, who is legally blind. "The idea of a person rolling around the stage in a chair, being disoriented, can't find anything, bumbling, in a sense looking like a clown, is a way disabled people are portrayed all the time. The perception that disability equals inability to be responsible is totally wrong."
Mocking politicians is nothing new for "SNL," and they spared Paterson no pain Saturday night. At one point during the skit, cast member Fred Armisen, who portrayed the governor, says, "Come on, I'm a blind man who loves cocaine who was suddenly appointed governor of New York. My life is an actual plot from a Richard Pryor movie.”
Then, looking confused and disoriented, Armisen says he became governor “because of a "sex scandal I was miraculously not at the center of."
Paterson, who ascended to the governorship last spring after Gov. Eliot Spitzer was snared in prostitution sting, has admitted to cocaine use during his youth and to having extramarital affairs.
Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the Paterson, said it isn’t that her boss can’t take a joke.
"The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke," Heller said. "However, this particular 'Saturday Night Live' skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities."
The National Federation of the Blind also criticized the skit, calling it "absolutely wrong" and an attack on all blind Americans.