basic instincts

The White House Thwarted Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America? Interview With Ben Carson

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Everyone from Bernie Sanders to Dick Cheney to Sarah Palin: Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent) received a good ole’ fashioned bipartisan pranking courtesy of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America? this year, but interestingly, there was one Trump administration official who was ultimately able to avoid making a fool of himself in front of the nation. As Cohen recalled in a new interview with Deadline about the show, he nearly got away with duping the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and failed presidential candidate, Ben Carson, before a White House official became suspicious of the interview and removed him from the scene. At the time, Cohen had been living completely undercover and “in disguise” in Washington D.C. for three weeks, with Carson agreeing to an interview days before Cohen left the city for good. However, their meeting spot at the Mandarin Oriental hotel provided problems almost immediately:

There are Secret Service everywhere. We had bad luck and there was a big international conference of politicians. Condoleezza Rice was there, a bunch of other politicians, and the whole place was filled with Secret Service, some of whom were completely undercover and some of whom were clear. We booked two hotel rooms. One hotel room I was going to interview Ben Carson in, and obviously, he had his own Secret Service detail and he was coming with White House press staff.

Cohen was disguised as his Finnish “unboxing” YouTube star character, OMGWhizzBoyOMG, which successfully got him past Carson’s Secret Service detail and in front of the camera. However, it was a White House representative, and not the Secret Service, who determined something wasn’t right and forced Carson to leave:

This character has a bunch of Shopkins [collectible toy figures], and the White House press representative was there. He says, ‘what are those?’ I say, these are Shopkins. He says, ‘I know what they are, but why are there Shopkins here?’ I go, it’s because that’s what I do, I unbox Shopkins. And I can see Ben Carson is literally walking in front of the camera. He’s just about to enter frame and this guy from the White House had an instinct and he said, ‘Pull him.’ And suddenly the Secret Service pulled him out. So the most I got to see was Ben Carson’s leg.

He just didn’t deserve you, D’Lish Donuts.

White House Thwarted Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ben Carson Talk