Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't appear to be pulling any punches when it comes to his new exposé series Who Is America?, but HBO's newest political experts, Pod Save America hosts Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, also raise the good point that Baron Cohen isn't exactly throwing punches at all. Is he really just stepping back and letting people punch themselves in the face?
"I think the most depressing thing about what Sacha Baron Cohen does is that he's not that manipulative," Favreau told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour while promoting their upcoming Pod Save America specials. "He does't have to push too hard and that's a real bummer."
"I know that there are some people that are like, 'Oh, he's still doing Borat s---, and he's misleading people," said co-host Tommy Vietor. "I think it's valuable for people to know that there is a group of people in Washington or in local governments that are so shameless, that are so easily bought off by the NRA or other interest groups that they will say or do literally anything. And I think exposing those people for the frauds that they are is a good thing... I think laying bare the reality of who they are and that they are often valueless is good."
Who Is America? has only aired two episodes so far, but Baron Cohen has already "tricked" several well-known stars and political pundits into various cringeworthy statements like lying about relief work in Africa or advocating for a program to teach preschool children how to use guns to defend themselves against school shooters. While obviously his tactics leave something to be desired (we don't imagine any of the Pod Save America hosts will be implementing his methods in any of their interviews) you have to wonder whether or not he's a necessary evil at this point if we want to unmask some of the shadier people in power.
Pod Save America's four hour-long specials will air this fall on HBO.