Published December 15, 2008
Gov. David Paterson and the National Federation for the Blind lambasted a Saturday Night Live skit that ran over the weekend, in which the New York governor -- who is legally blind -- was depicted as confused and incompetent.
"I can certainly take a joke," Paterson told a local television station. "The idea that disability goes hand-in-hand with inability to actually be effective or to run a state or run a business -- I think it's a very negative classification."
Paterson spokesman Errol Cockfield sent a statement Monday to FOXNews.com, criticizing the skit as a tasteless joke that sought to mock people with physical disabilities.
"The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke. 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," Cockfield said.
"The governor is sure that Saturday Night Live with all of its talent can find a way to be funny without being offensive. Knowing the governor, he might even have some suggestions himself," he said.
Armisen said he was looking for three characteristics in candidates for the job: economic experience, upstate influence and someone who is disabled and unprepared for the job -- like himself. The actor then held up a chart illustrating the state's job losses upside down.
"Come on, I'm a blind man who loves cocaine who was suddenly appointed governor of New York, which is an actual plot from a Richard Pryor movie," Armisen said in the skit.
National Federation for the Blind spokesman Chris Danielson, who called the skit "totally unacceptable," is calling on NBC -- the network that airs SNL -- to issue a formal apology.
"They owe the governor and all blind Americans an apology," Danielsen told FOXNews.com.
"It really stepped way over the line for Saturday Night Live to go on the air and claim that blind people are buffoons who can't do anything," he said.
Danielsen said he took particular offense to the part in the skit when Armisen -- while impersonating Paterson -- referred to himself as a "freak."
SNL's executive producer Lorne Michaels was not immediately available for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.