On Friday evening, Real Time host Bill Maher kicked off his monologue by addressing Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ frontrunner status—sort of.
“Bernie Sanders won Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s also leading in the national polls, which means we have a new frontrunner… Michael Bloomberg? What the fuck?” offered Maher, adding, “Well, Bloomberg must be the frontrunner because liberals are calling him a racist.”
When the audience began booing Maher’s joke castigating liberals for calling Bloomberg a racist, he sniped, “Keep booing—that’s how you lost the last election.”
Maher was addressing the tape of Bloomberg from 2015 that re-emerged this week, wherein the former mayor of New York City admitted—to a crowd of rich, white folks in Aspen—that his stop-and-frisk policy, which was unconstitutional, led to thousands of dubious marijuana arrests, and ruined many lives, was about targeting “minorities.”
“Ninety-five percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25…That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city in America. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed,” said Bloomberg.
He continued: “People say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities!’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why’d we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you should get the guns out of the kids’ hands is throw them against the wall and frisk them.”
The HBO host ultimately returned to the former Republican, saying, “Bloomberg does have some blind spots, I’m not going to lie about that. He’s not too good on pot, either.”
When more boo birds came out, he continued, “But hey, I will happily vote for him if he is the winning bidder! Trump loves to mock Bloomberg for being short, but he’s not short on cash. He has got ads everywhere. Have you seen this? They’re on Facebook, they’re on YouTube, they’re on television. I saw one on Pornhub, the title was: ‘Rich Daddy Pays for It.’”
Later on, during the panel portion, Maher touched on the trending Twitter hashtag #BloombergIsARacist, again positing that it’s a reason why the Democrats “will lose” against Trump again.
But the strangest part came when Maher read the first part of Bloomberg’s statement aloud to his audience—“95 percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O…they are male minorities 15 to 25”—before repeatedly asking his panel, “Is that true? I’m just asking if that is true.”
“I think he has real blind spots, this guy, but I don’t think he did it because he thought he was not helping,” said Maher, defending Bloomberg. “I think he thought he was helping, and I think he pictured—he’s a business guy, and part of this is because the police can’t be trusted with this policy, because they do throw people against the wall instead of doing it the way they should sometimes, not all—OK, but he’s picturing not that person, he’s picturing the storeowner who’s saying, ‘My neighborhood’s a tough neighborhood—can you help me?’”
CNN’s Van Jones, a panelist on the show, then schooled Maher on the subject, firing back with, “You actually left out the thing that I think offended people the most. It’s not some rogue cop who’s out there throwing people against the wall, he said himself the way you do it is you throw these people up against the wall. That’s the quote, and that’s the problem—that this attitude started at the top with him.”
“Did he?” asked Maher, apparently unaware of what Bloomberg actually said.