This article contains spoilers for Who Is America? Episode 1.
There are more than a few jaw-dropping moments in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show, Who Is America?, but there’s one particularly fleeting incident you shouldn’t brush under the carpet.
It’s the director of Gun Owners of America laughing about marital rape. Really.
Who Is America? officially premiered on Sunday on Showtime in the U.S. and on streaming service Stan in Australia. As Sarah Palin found out the hard way, Cohen has been filming interviews with U.S. politicians and lobbyists for a year in disguise, creating a host of new characters for the show.
One of these characters, an Israeli anti-terrorism expert called Erran Morad, interviews Larry Pratt, executive director of lobbyist group Gun Owners of America.
After talking to Pratt about liberals “using these school shootings to further the anti-tragedy agenda,” and the ludicrous idea of arming children in schools (which Pratt supports) there’s a chilling moment where Cohen moves the topic to women.
“Women need a gun,” says Morad/Cohen. “My wife, she have a gun, and she shot me once. I mean, what can I do, I get horny in the middle of the night. But it’s not rape if it’s your wife.”
Pratt laughs heartily at this, then the pair shake hands.
“That probably won’t be on the video we send to The Hill,” says Pratt, chuckling.
“Oh, no, no, no,” says Morad/Cohen. Then, Pratt laughs even harder, almost hysterically.
You can see Pratt’s interview in this 10-minute preview for the first episode, starting around 5:42.
It’s seriously messed up. Cohen exposes a man laughing openly at rape and sexual assault against women within marriage. Marital rape in the U.S. was first criminalized in the 1970s, and since 1993, it has been illegal in all 50 states, but there have been alarming exemptions made in some individual states since then.
Plus, Sacha Baron Cohen practically used the same words Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen said in 2015 to The Daily Beast in regard to accusations of rape against the president from his first wife Ivana.
“You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody,” Michael Cohen said. “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”
Michael Cohen later apologised.
Pratt has yet to respond publicly to Sacha Baron Cohen’s show.