Bill Maher Argues We Should Embrace Trump Supporters as Though They Left the NXIVM Sex Cult
The “Real Time” host closed his season finale by saying we should learn to embrace Trump supporters, comparing them to people who left the NXIVM sex cult.
On Friday night, Bill Maher closed the season finale of his long-running HBO series Real Time by comparing Trump supporters to NXIVM followers—adherents of the Albany-based cult led by Keith Raniere wherein many women were starved, branded, and treated as sex slaves.
“The challenge for us is, how do you get people out of a cult—especially when every time you present evidence of what is obvious reality, they take it as proof of you being in on a conspiracy to destroy them? And for the answer to that question, we must turn to Catherine Oxenberg,” explained Maher, adding, “She got somebody out of a cult—and I know about 70 million other Americans I’d like her to talk to.”
Maher was referring to socialite India Oxenberg, the subject of the new Starz docuseries Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, who spent seven years under the psychological control of Raniere, serving as his minion and sex slave. Her mother, former Dynasty actress and royal Catherine Oxenberg, spent a number of years trying to extricate India from NXIVM, to no avail.
“As I was watching this documentary, I couldn’t stop thinking that Raniere—I mean, ‘Vanguard’—reminded me of someone. But I couldn’t put my figure on who. For example, like most cult leaders, Vanguard had an extraordinary need to be surrounded by ass-lickers telling him how great he was,” offered the comedian.
Then, Maher ran a montage of high-ranking NXIVM officials Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Clare Bronfman heaping praise on Raniere, followed by a similar-sounding montage of Trump officials Mike Pence, Orrin Hatch, and other Republicans massaging the president’s fragile ego.
According to Maher, both Trump and Raniere often insisted that they were “geniuses,” with Trump bragging about it often, and Raniere falsely claiming he was even though he graduated from college with a 2.26 GPA (Trump’s academic claims are similarly dubious.) They both also created failed, fraudulent schools—Trump University and Executive Success Programs, the original name for NXIVM. And they’ve misrepresented themselves as huge successes in business, even though Trump’s bankrupted casinos and been bailed out of financial trouble by his father’s hundreds of millions, while Raniere was busted running a pyramid scheme.
“And then there’s the fact that both men were such unrepentant sex creeps that they literally could not stop themselves from bragging about it,” Maher continued, running footage of Raniere talking about “grabbing” women at will against Trump’s infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape where he bragged about sexually assaulting women at will due to his celebrity.
He concluded by saying that we should take a page out of Catherine Oxenberg’s playbook and embrace Trump cultists. “You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner?’ Well, she practiced, ‘Hate the cult, love the cultist.’ She didn’t scream at her daughter that she was stupid, she didn’t cut her off, she just kept trying to remind her of who she used to be. I think we need to try that on QAnon.”
Here’s the thing: India Oxenberg didn’t leave NXIVM until well after Keith Raniere and his collaborators were arrested by federal authorities.