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Sacha Baron Cohen says Trump would not be president without Twitter

Comedian laces into social media company’s CEO for meeting with US president, says online rhetoric tied to ‘disintegration’ of democracy

Sacha Baron Cohen, star of the Showtime series "Who Is America?" poses before an Emmy For Your Consideration event for the show at Paramount Studios, May 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Sacha Baron Cohen, star of the Showtime series "Who Is America?" poses before an Emmy For Your Consideration event for the show at Paramount Studios, May 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Sacha Baron Cohen said that US President Donald Trump would probably not have been elected to office without Twitter, in an interview published Thursday.

The British-Jewish comedian castigated Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for meeting with Trump and failing to ban violent racists from the social media platform, saying the issue was tied to what he called the “disintegration” of democracy.

“Trump without Twitter probably would not have become president, which is why Jack Dorsey is in the White House having a meeting with Trump,” Baron Cohen said in an interview with actor Don Cheadle released Thursday by the Variety entertainment news outlet for its “Actors on Actors” program.

“What’s fascinating about that is, he’s sitting across from the president, who’s actually the biggest celebrity endorser of his corporation. And Jack Dorsey and Twitter cannot implement any restrictions against white supremacists and racists” because the Twitter business model requires many users to be on the platform, Baron Cohen said.

“He can claim, ‘Oh, I believe in freedom of speech, and obviously I won’t be biased against anyone,’ when really, in society, we want to be biased against those who want to kill people like you or like me, just because of the color of our skin or our ethnicity or because we’re different. It’s okay to not give those people, who want to murder people for being different, absolute rights. We’re living in a dangerous society now,” Baron Cohen said.

The actor was discussing his Showtime series “Who is America?” where he goes undercover to interview, and provoke, politicians and other Americans. The goal of the show was to expose the effects of today’s political culture and people’s true thoughts and beliefs, Baron Cohen said.

Today’s online rhetoric is symptomatic of, and contributing to, a breakdown in the Democratic system of government, he said.

“We’re in the internet age. It’s bigger than the industrial revolution. It’s transformed the way people think, not just their attention span, but there’s this theory that we’re in this post-truth age in that there are so many sources of ‘truth’ that no one knows what facts are any more so it allows people who are spreading lies to actually seem like they’re legitimate,” he said. “We’re living in a society where the space we grew up in, with the idea that society is getting better, where black people can get full rights, they can vote, where people are equal despite their differences, that concept is being disintegrated.”

“Democracy is being disintegrated and that’s terrifying to me,” Baron Cohen said.

Sacha Baron Cohen, right, playing Israeli military expert Erran Morad, meets with defeated Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, in an episode of ‘Who is America?’ aired on July 29, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Last year, Baron Cohen’s performance in “Who is America?” earned him a Golden Globe award nomination for best musical or comedy television actor.

One of his characters on the show is a just barely believable Israeli military expert named Erran Morad. Baron Cohen interviewed Alabama Republican Roy Moore as Morad, humiliating the politician with a supposed pedophile detection device. Moore sued Baron Cohen for $95 million over the prank.

In an upcoming Netflix series, Baron Cohen plays the role of Eli Cohen, a spy for Israel in Syria in the early 1960s.

The six-episode drama, “The Spy,” was written and directed by Israeli Gideon Raff, best known for the Hebrew-language drama series “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War) and its acclaimed US adaptation “Homeland.”

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