Oscar nominated star Sacha Baron Cohen has won a $75 million defamation lawsuit that was filed against him by the American politician Roy Moore. Moore filed the suit claiming that he was defamed as a pedophile by Baron Cohen in an appearance on the latter’s 2018 comedy series “Who Is America?.”
Roy Moore is a former judge who famously ran for an open Senate seat in Alabama in 2017. He won the Republican nomination, but lost in the general election to democrat Doug Jones. During his campaign for Senate, allegations about how Roy Moore once pursued underage girl came to light. There were allegations of sexual assault and that he would “troll” shopping malls in search of young girls.
Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for portraying a fictitious character who then performs “shock” and “gotcha” interviews of politicians. He most famously did this in his two Borat movies. The best example of a public figure falling for this gimmick was how former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was caught on camera trying to hit on a woman 50 years his junior in the second Borat film.
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And this was also the premise of Who Is America?. Sacha Baron Cohen pretended to be a number of different made up characters as he went “undercover” to interview various politicians including Roy Moore.
When interviewing Moore, Baron Cohen pretended to be an Israeli anti-terrorism expert and former intelligence agent. During the interview, Cohen took out a hand held wand metal detector and told Roy Moore that it was a pedophile detector. The device beeped when passed over Moore.
Roy Moore said that the bit defamed him and that is why he sued Sacha Baron Cohen, the channel that aired the program Showtime and its corporate owner, CBS for $95 million. But a three judge panel in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously ruled against him.
In its ruling, the court said that Moore was not able to sue because he had signed a waiver before the interview. It also found that the bit was a joke and that the audience was not supposed to believe that the device actually worked. I8
“Baron Cohen may have implied that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers, but he did not imply the existence of any independent factual basis for that belief besides the obviously farcical pedophile detecting ‘device,’ which no reasonable person could believe to be an actual, functioning piece of technology,” said the court.
The court added that. “Humor is an important medium of legitimate expression and central to the well-being of individuals, society, and their government.”