Joe Arpaio, the former Pheonix-area sheriff who is running for Arizona’s open Senate seat this fall, is the latest in a line of conservative American political figures to admit being duped by British entertainer Sacha Baron Cohen and agreeing to one of his famous interviews.
Cohen is well-known for conducting interviews with unwitting suspects while he role-plays as foreign characters with controversial views on race, politics, and sexuality.
For Arpaio, Cohen pretended to be a Trump-supporting Finnish comedian and asked him multiple “highly inappropriate” questions involving sexual acts that made Arpaio feel “very uncomfortable,” the former sheriff, who is locked in a three-way primary battle with Rep. Martha McSally and state Sen. Kelli Ward for the Republican nomination this November in Arizona, told Breitbart.
The production set where Cohen and Arpaio shot the interview, which was presented to Arpaio as a live interview, included boxes with toy cars inside.
Arpaio, an immigration hard-liner whom President Donald Trump pardoned last year from a contempt of court verdict, famously advocated for racially profiling car drivers and pulling them over for being suspected undocumented immigrants.
Unlike many of Cohen’s dupees, Arpaio white-knuckled through the whole interview.
“I felt uncomfortable with some of the words they were using but I had to live through it,” he said. “I am not the type of guy who gets up and walks out. I never walked out in thousands of interviews. I just take it.”
In his interviews, Cohen tries to box in his subjects and make them feel awkward and uncomfortable by asking them questions many would consider too outrageous for television.
“I was very careful in responding to controversial issues,” Arpaio said. “Profiling. Illegal immigration. They were hitting me with all of that.”
Former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin admitted recently to falling for Cohen’s tricks.
For her interview, Cohen pretended to be a disabled veteran, Palin said, causing an outrage among conservative circles and eliciting a sharp rebuke from Palin when she discovered Cohen’s true identity.
“He thinks this kind of stuff is funny, and mocking the disabled and mocking and belittling our vets with his portrayal — in my book, it’s not funny,” Palin said.
Cohen is working on an upcoming series on Showtime entitled “Who is America?”
Other political figures who have admitted interviewing with Cohen include Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore and former Illinois congressman and radio host Joe Walsh.