Blinding Mad: Gov. Paterson Rips "SNL" for Skit - NBC4 Washington

Blinding Mad: Gov. Paterson Rips "SNL" for Skit



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    Gov. Paterson was not amused by Fred Armisen's impression of him on SNL.

    Gov. David Paterson, known for his quick wit, didn't find the humor in a "Saturday Night Live" segment that lampooned his blindness -- and portrayed him as befuddled and disoriented.

    Comedian Fred Armisen hammed up the governor's raspy voice and imitated his wandering eye during a skit on "Weekend Update" with co-anchor Seth Meyers.

    "I can take a joke, but only 37 percent of disabled people are working, and I'm afraid that kind of third-grade humor certainly adds to this atmosphere," Paterson told reporters. "Let's just say I don't think it helped."

    In the skit, Meyers asks Paterson how he will appoint someone to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton.

    Armisen says he has three criteria: economic experience, upstate influence and someone who has a disability and is unprepared for the job — like himself.

    He holds up a chart illustrating job losses in the state upside down.

    "I'm tired of all these fancy two-eyed smart alecs from the big city running the show," he said. "It's time we get someone from Utica, Syracuse or Schenectady -- towns where people have something a little off about them."

    "I mean, they don't have to be blind. I just need someone with like a gamey arm or maybe the giant gums with the tiny teeth."

    The faux Paterson then notes he was only in the governor's office because of the fallout from the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

    "Come on, I'm a blind man who loves cocaine who was suddenly appointed governor of New York. My life is an actual plot from a Richard Pryor movie."

    The joke continued in a second segment when Armisen wandered in front of the camera during cast member Amy Poehler's good-bye announcement.

    Paterson has no vision in his left eye as a result of an infection he developed as an infant that left him legally blind. He has 20/400 vision in his right eye, which means he can see at 20 feet what those with perfect eyesight can see at 400, the New York Times reported in March.

    "I am legally blind in my right eye, and totally blind in my left eye," he told the New York Time's Danny Hakim in early 2008. "I'm looking at Armen [Meyer, a press aide who was in the room]. I know he has a white shirt on, I know he has a tie on, but from this distance I can't tell you what color it is. I think it's a darker color."

    The governor can read at brief intervals by holding a paper close to his face, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    The National Federation of the Blind says it considers the sketch an attack on all blind Americans.

    Federation spokesman Chris Danielsen says the portrayal is "absolutely wrong."

    He says it also perpetuates a stereotype and misconception that contributes to an unemployment rate among blind people that stubbornly remains at 70 percent.