Policy

Wilson Said He Was Duped Into Suggesting He Supports Arming Toddlers

Sacha Baron Cohen disguised himself as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert to get interviews with GOP lawmakers

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., says he was was targeted by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen because of his support for Israel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Joe Wilson got the Sacha Baron Cohen treatment Sunday night in a segment on the British comedian’s new show where he tries to convince lawmakers to back a made-up lobbying effort to arm American toddlers.

During a sit-down interview with Baron Cohen, who is well-known for conducting interviews with unwitting suspects while he role-plays as foreign characters with controversial views on race, politics, and sexuality, the South Carolina Republican appeared to suggest he supported the lobbying effort to help “Kinderguardians” by arming preschoolers with guns.

“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” Wilson tells Baron Cohen in a sit-down interview in his Longworth office.

Baron Cohen conducted the interview in disguise, pretending to be an Israeli anti-terrorism expert named Col. Erran Morad.

“Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment,” Wilson says in the interview, which aired on Showtime Sunday night for Baron Cohen’s new series “Who is America?”

Wilson said Cohen targeted him and other members of Congress for their pro-Israel foreign policy views and indicated he did not realize he was being interviewed for a comedy sketch by a British actor.

“Public officials of both parties, like everyone, can be the target of practical jokes — and that’s what you’ve seen in this instance,” Wilson told The (Charleston) Post and Courier in a statement Sunday.

“The request was to thank me for being a friend of Israel. I was targeted due to my strong support of Israel and my open door office policy — and what I told this group was that I’ve worked to strengthen our relationship with Israel and that I will continue to work with President Donald Trump to do so,” Wilson said.

Baron Cohen’s attempt to coerce U.S. lawmakers into saying they support a program to arm toddlers with weapons did not stop and start with Wilson.

The episode featured a clip of the supposed Morad’s interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz, who put the entire segment into perspective.

“You want me to say on television that I support 3- and 4-year-olds with firearms? Is that what you’re asking me to do?” the Florida Republican asks.

“Typically, members of Congress don’t just hear a story about a program and then indicate whether they support it or not,” Gaetz says.

For the Showtime series, Baron Cohen has interviewed what appears to be dozens of lawmakers and prominent political figures, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, 2017 Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, former Phoenix-area sheriff and Arizona Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who is now a syndicated radio host.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.