After popping up on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Real Time With Bill Maher over the past couple of weeks, 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson made her Daily Show debut on Tuesday night. And she was met with some harsher scrutiny than she received from those other two late-night hosts—even if it didn’t end up in the section of the interview that actually aired on TV.
Trevor Noah started his interview with some semi-backhanded compliments. “It seemed like you were out of your depth” during the first Democratic presidential debate in June, he said, but by the second debate last month he noted that she was the most googled candidate on the stage. “Why do you think you’re connecting with so many people who first thought that you were a joke?” he asked.
Williamson admitted that her delivery can be “a little funny,” but stood by the “substance” of her message. “I’m not saying anything everybody I know isn’t saying,” she said.
Throughout the interview, Noah pressed Williamson to get specific about her proposals, as opposed to speaking in spiritual platitudes. She cited a constitutional amendment on campaign-finance reform and repealing the Trump tax cuts for corporations as two examples or what she would prioritize as president.
In the televised version of their conversation, Williamson skipped from health care to reparations. But that left out the long section in which Noah grilled the candidate on her past statements regarding vaccines and antidepressants.
“People have said Marianne Williamson is against vaccines,” Noah told his guest in the extended interview, which appeared in full online. Specifically, he cited her comments calling mandatory vaccines “Orwellian.”
“I’ve never said anything bad about vaccines. I am pro-vaccines,” Williamson insisted. “Anytime that there is medical intervention, there is both benefit and risk and the government must always come down on the side of the public good.” This is despite the fact that just last week, Williamson was telling MSNBC’s Ari Melber that she believes when she was a kid, fewer vaccines may have meant fewer “chronic illnesses”—a common, and baseless, anti-vaxxer argument.
As she has done before, the candidate apologized for her previous comments. “It was a glib way to talk about that conversation,” she said, calling herself “the least anti-science, the least anti-medicine person you’ll ever meet”—an unfortunate echo of President Trump’s “least racist” claims.
Similarly, Williamson pushed back when Noah brought up her prior stance against antidepressants. “I found it very disappointing, even on the left, given that I am a progressive, that so much has been repeated about me related to those things,” she said, essentially calling stories about her own words fake news.
Williamson ultimately pivoted to argue against the overprescription of opioids, somewhat conflating the two issues. “This is not dangerous to discuss,” she said. “People are saying I’m crazy and dangerous. I think what’s dangerous and a little bit crazy is we’re not discussing it.”
Noah seemed convinced, moving on to the issue of reparations for slavery and praising his guest for speaking out so forcefully about it during the last debate. After she made her case, the host said, “I’ll tell you this, you sound a lot more sane when you have more than a minute to speak.”