Politics

How Lee Zeldin Dodged Sacha Baron Cohen

Baron Cohen’s ‘Who is America?’ show has duped a number of U.S. politicians

New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin’s staff smelled something fishy when he was contacted about an interview with a purported Israeli TV outlet. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Lee Zeldin can thank his staff for preventing him from being the latest victim of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

The New York Republican’s office received a call from someone claiming to be from an Israeli television station requesting an interview with him, the New York Post reported.

But Katie Vincentz, Zeldin’s communications director, said Zeldin’s staff found that the station called Yerushalayim Television had little online presence or social activity and the producer had an American name.

“To be candid, it was a little suspicious that someone who was the producer of Yerushalayim Television in Israel would be ‘Julia Harris,’” Vincentz said.

It was later revealed that it was a setup for Baron Cohen’s show “Who is America?”

The show has already led to multiple members of Congress ranging from Sen. Bernie Sanders to Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher becoming unwitting guests on the show.

One of the first stunts Baron Cohen pulled was getting Republican members of Congress to say they supported arming toddlers.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson later said he was tricked into saying he supported the legislation when Baron Cohen was pretending to be an Israeli anti-terrorism expert named Col. Erran Morad.

Similarly, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in Arizona, admitted to being duped by Baron Cohen.

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz earlier said he avoided Baron Cohen-as-Col. Morad’s attempt to dupe him into reading a statement because he has a policy against reading off teleprompters.

And Georgia state lawmaker Jason Spencer resigned after Baron Cohen duped him into dropping his pants and shouting a racial slur in what the Morad character said was anti-terrorism  training.

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