Variety Publishes Blatant Lies About Sacha Baron Cohen Dressing as a Klansman at CPAC, Gets Called Out 

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)



In the new age of truthfulness the media has yet to join in. 

We continue to see the press complex in this country struggling with the post-Trump era, as what was supposed to be a time of renewed promise and positivity has become more likely an embarrassment for news outlets. Whether it is CNN and the administration telling blatant lies, to others being incapable of quitting their Trump coverage this has not been a banner week for the press. Now we see the entertainment media is also struggling in the same fashion.

At Variety the outlet hosted a video conference between Ben Affleck and Sasha Baron Cohen, stars of the film ‘’The Trial Of The Chicago 7’’, an assured Oscar-contending release. As a promotional piece for the Oscar campaign, the two stars spoke on numerous topics, including some of the content seen in Cohen’s latest film with his Borat character. In that film, he has a segment where he states he walked into last year’s CPAC conference dressed in the attire of a KKK member.

Affleck opened up this topic, and quickly the fabrications are to be found.

Affleck: Did anybody do anything when you went to CPAC with the Klan outfit?

Baron Cohen: That was the interesting thing. They reacted with indifference. None of the security were concerned.

Affleck: How did you get in there and do that and pull that off?

Baron Cohen: It reminded me a bit of “Argo,” actually. Where the vice president was speaking, that’s the same level of Secret Service as the president. We were limited with how much we could find out. We’d never break the law. We’re very, very careful in case anyone sues us that we’ve never done anything illegal.

First off, as someone who not only attended the conference last year but had been present the morning Mike Pence spoke, I can assure you Cohen had little to no impact. If you were not in the halls by the early morning you were locked out of the conference, for hours. There is a video snippet of the ‘’Klansman’’ entering the hotel, and maybe walking all of 100 feet, just past the front desk. It cuts off there, because the Secret Service had the entrances sealed by this point. So Cohen’s KKK bit entails the lobby area, and nothing more.

This is not only confirmed by a Washington Examiner article from last October, but it also disproves other claims made by the performer. The first is that it was not Cohen who was in the Klansman outfit, but an actor he had hired. Also, his claim of ‘’indifference’’ by the security teams and organizers is a complete lie. 

In the film, Mr. Baron Cohen’s character is shown briefly dressed in a white KKK-style robe and hood, apparently at the conference, but there was another man, later identified as a professional actor, who walked through the hotel lobby in a Klan costume.

The actor “attempted to attend CPAC under false light and with a malicious purpose,” said the ACU letter. “When CPAC staff first noticed this Fake Klansman interloper, they immediately had the actor, his costume and the Borat entourage removed from the premises and permanently banned from re-entry to any CPAC event.”

Rather telling these events never made it into Cohen’s film, and how these details manage to evade his memory. It seems that detailing how he was in fact confronted, stopped, and escorted from the event does not fit the preconceived bias about the conference and defies the narrative of conservatives being comfortable and accepting of racism. 

A spokesman from the American Conservative Union, which had pursued legal actions against the production over this stunt, and a second which involved Cohen wearing a prosthetic outfit to resemble Donald Trump, detailed how this delivered the intended demonization of CPAC and conservatives. He explained how in the days following that images of this staged ‘’Klan arrival’’ were spreading across social media and being shown as an actual attendee. Authorities in the area and others working with the conference were expressing concerns over the mischaracterization.

Here it is, nearly a full year later, and Cohen is not only continuing to fully misrepresent this staged incursion, but Variety is content to run this claim without any clarifications or corrections. Based on what has been seen in less than a week of a Biden term it is appearing that the media are feeling freed up to make any unsubstantiated claims involving President Trump, Republicans, and/or conservatives. 

This is something that will need to be continually addressed, as the press is showing a willingness to report stories without substantiation, but if they are directed at those on the right they are justified in their inaccuracies. They are shouting their claims of existing in a new era of truthfulness and transparency, and they appear to feel this places them above being called out when they deliver patently false stories and reports.

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