Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bill Maher: “There Are a Lot of Vulgar, Tacky, Racist People in This Country.”

Bill Maher on “basket of deplorables.” Fareed Zakaria GPS. CNN, Oct 14, 2016. Full GPS interview with Maher at YouTube, YouTube.

See also: Inquisitr, Mediaite, Raw Story, The Hill, AlterNet, NewsBusters.

GPS Transcript:

ZAKARIA: I spent some time this week in Los Angeles. And while I was there, I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with a man who is unabashedly off the left and also, I think, one of the most astute political observers of our time. Not a columnist, not an academic, but a man who apply his trait as a comedian, Bill Maher. He is, of course, the host of HBO’s “Real Time.” And HBO and CNN are both owned by Time Warner. We met on his “Real Time” set and things got real, well, really quickly.

Bill Maher, a pleasure to have you on.

MAHER: Pleasure to be here.

ZAKARIA: Whatever happens with this election, the big question I think we all are still trying to puzzle is, how Trump, why Trump? What is your explanation as to why Donald Trump erupted onto the political scene the way he did?

MAHER: Well, we have to look at the people who voted for him. I mean, it’s depressing to think that you share the country with so many people who you share nothing with.

You know, Donald Trump is a reflection. And what we learned is that there’s a lot of vulgar, tacky, racist people in this country, more than I thought; I knew there were some. But it’s the proverbial lifting up of a rock and what we found when we lifted it up was the basket of deplorables. And I know they hate that term, but if the basket fits, and it does.

ZAKARIA: There are a lot of people who talk about the economic anxiety, the dislocation, the pain. In your last monologue, you don't buy that.

MAHER: Well, I mean, we found that it was a myth. I mean, the typical Trump voter in the primaries made, I think, $72,000 and not hurting economically like they’ve said they are. No more likely to be hurt by trade or immigration. No more likely to be out of work.

You know, the base problem is that they live in this fact-free bubble. I mean, if you’ve ever seen one of his rallies, it’s just a completely fact-free assessment of this country, the problems facing it and his always constitutionally impossible solutions.

It’s funny the internet was supposed to make us smarter but it just served as a seal for knowledge to get in.

ZAKARIA: The perfect example of that is he keeps citing these on-line non-polls as polls.

MAHER: Right. Yes.

ZAKARIA: It’s like we won all the polls.

MAHER: He said this week that ISIS wasn’t only going to take over their part of the world but take over America. You know, back in the day, if you’re in the John Burke society, you have to go door to door with pamphlets and you have to talk to people or whatever. Now, they’re right in a chat room. You can just spew your nonsense and there’s lots of people who – that’s what they want to hear and they want to believe, and so they do.

So we live in this element where it’s not even a race between ideologies anymore, it’s not Republican and Democrat or conservative and liberal. It’s reality versus alternative reality. This reality of their own choosing. And to make it even worse, they don’t care about lying – lying, bold-faced, caught on tape lying is no longer a deal-breaker at all. They don’t care – they don’t care. They know or they don’t know, it doesn’t matter to them. He’s their guy.

ZAKARIA: How much of Trump’s success is that he comes from this much larger world than the political world, the world of celebrity. I remember reading this thing by Josh Ramo who said if you had said to somebody two years ago, this is one candidate who’s got two presidents in his family, and he’s got an amazing Rolodex, he will raise $50 million in the first month or two and there’s this other guy who’s got 10 million Twitter followers, who’s going to win? And it was the guy with the Twitter followers.

MAHER: Right. Well, celebrity is everything in this country. It’s funny, somebody ought to write a book or maybe somebody already did about the history of fame and celebrity because it sure has changed. I mean, I think, 100 years ago, being mobbed, being famous was considered rather gauche, right?

I mean in Shakespeare’s day, actors were like the lowest form of life. And now being a celebrity is everything. I mean, you see it in kids’ reactions. What do you want to be? It’s usually a model, a rapper, an athlete, a singer, you know. I mean, there’s a lot of talk in this country from people about you can always live your dream, kids. And what is the dream? It’s usually to be a singer, you know, “American Idol.”

Let’s get to the part where I’m an idol. Not a lot of Doctors Without Borders. I mean, some, but there’s way too much emphasis on that. And so, they think as celebrity is the best thing you can be. Certainly not held against Donald Trump by his fans.

ZAKARIA: And there’s no distinction between fame, notoriety and celebrity, it’s all the same, the famous.

MAHER: Yes, fame is the best thing.

ZAKARIA: All right. You have five, six million Twitter followers.


ZAKARIA: When we come back, I'm going to ask Bill Maher if he might run for office.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Bill Maher talking all things Trump and some other things as well. So I was saying, I mean, the power of celebrity is extraordinary. He has this ability to bypass conventional media. He’s got between Facebook and Twitter. He claims 25 million – I haven’t checked it – followers.

I mean, I am serious. You are sort of have, in that same world, yo’'ve got five, six million Twitter followers. Have you ever thought about the fact that you could probably run? You have more name recognition than any politician.

MAHER: I know, but it’s my views. Interesting, I could run more reasonably than I could ten years ago. But my standard answer to that was always I think religion is bad and drugs are good. And that is not a slogan that will probably get you a lot of votes in America. People are rather conservative when they go in the voting booth.

Even liberals. I mean, not necessarily ideologically but they want someone stable. I mean, we will see. If Trump gets elected, this goes out the window. But just being an atheist, I mean, right there, that's like the ultimate deal-breaker. There’s polling on this in America. They will vote for anybody before an atheist. I’m talking about the categories that have never been elected, a Jew, homosexual, vegetarian – they hate vegetarians and they will even vote a vegetarian before an atheist. That’s rock bottom. So, yes and nor would I ever want to.

Oh, my gosh, I mean, to be restricted in the ways you have to be? I have to get up in the morning. Right there is a deal-breaker.

ZAKARIA: What does Trump do, in your view, after his probable defeat?

MAHER: Not good things. I worry about that. I think a lot of people do. Because, first of all, he’s got his knuckle-draggers all riled up about the fact that this is a rigged election. I think I read 65 percent of his followers already believed it is a rigged election and talked about Hillary, putting her in jail.

This is dangerous talk. We saw that woman at the Mike Pence rally this week. I mean, first of all, they live in this, again, alternative reality where country is hanging by a thread and if she is elected, it’s this existential threat to our way of life on earth, it’s just insane. But if you have that mindset and then he loses, what happens? I don’t think he goes away.

You know, this is a Caesar crossing the Rubicon moment; he’s got an army. What’s he going to do with that army? I think he will be – people say he might started his own Fox News-type station, I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s going to be good. I think he’s going to be the Che Guevara of deplorables. I think he’s going to a revolutionary out there and he’s going to be a martyr to this loss, and I hope loss. And I don’t know what they’re prepared to do. They already talk about things like Second Amendment solutions. That phrase becomes a lot more acceptable.

ZAKARIA: Do you think he believes any of this? I mean, he was a Democrat pro-choice, praised the Clintons, smeared Clinton's accusers and now he’s this.

MAHER: I don’t know. I think he always was a racist because he adores his father and that’s baked into the cake with him from way back, the housing stuff. He went after those five who were acquitted of the rape. And even after they were acquitted, he still – I think he’s truly a racist. So he started with that, the Birther stuff. And that’s where they should’ve stopped him, by the way. That was where you stop this maniac but they didn’t.

After that, once he got in front of his rallies, those crowds, I think he let them dictate where he went. He feeds off the love of those people. We know this about him. Putin says he likes him. Putin is a great guy. Someone criticizes him, that’s a horrible person. If he ever got elected, it would just be government by snit, not about ideology, really.

You’re right, he’s all over the map. It doesn’t matter. It’s whether you like him or you don’t. If you praise him, you’re great. If you don’t, you’re awful. So he gets up in the front of those people and he finds out as the campaign went on. I say this and they cheer and they love it.

ZAKARIA: He’s like a salesman. He’s sensing the crowd.

MAHER: Yes, absolutely. Yes, sensing the crowd. So I think that is what has shaped his ideology as far as it goes.

ZAKARIA: You know, one of the things that we’ve all grappled with, which has been very tough is how do you cover this race? And how do you cover Trump, particularly, when, you know, what he says things that are just not true?

So for instance, I even watched him this last debate and Anderson Cooper said to him, do you think you have the discipline to be president? For example, you tweet late at night and you ask us to watch a sex tape, which by the way didn’t exist. And he says, I didn’t. What do you supposed to do with that point when, you know, he did tweeted and how many times do you do that?

MAHER: Well, I think the media, you know, has been going downhill for a long time with notable exceptions. But I think one of their big problems is that they confuse fair and balanced with false equivalency. You know, he’s not the same as Hillary Clinton. I mean, Politico did a study of this of how much they lie. She lies about 28 percent of the time somewhat or fully, which is about pretty good for politicians.

ZAKARIA: It's about the average.

MAHER: He lies like 80 percent of the time. Like she lies less than most politicians, he lies more than anybody we’ve ever seen. He just says whatever comes into his head. I think it’s the media's job to point that out. I know he’s going to stammer and yell, and he does; I saw it at the last debate. He's like a five-year-old.

I mean, he kept saying to the moderator, she got more time. This is what my sister and I used to do when we were literally toddlers. She could to do anything she wants and I can’t watch any of my shows. The idea that this is somebody who they are seriously considering electing? Even if he loses, that is a depressing thought. But yes, I do think the media has to do a much better job of that.

ZAKARIA: But again, his supporters and all the people on Fox News, they buy this all. They like it.

MAHER: I know but the media has to understand that, again, fair and balanced. They got that in their head, which they think means, well, I say this to this guy and I said exactly in the other guy. But if one person is saying that the earth doesn’t revolve around the sun, you know, the answer is not to give that person equal weight with that. And also – I mean, come on, the media is rooting for a close race. It’s better for them.

I mean, Hillary is way up now but I don’t think that’s what the media wants. And they’re going to take these nothing e-mails that are in the Wikipedia leaks – I mean, the WikiLeaks, and they’re going to find something in there and they’re going to dwell on it, and people out there who don’t know much about anything in politics are going to go, it’s a wash, you know. That’s it.

Well, you know, he did the 8,000 horrific things, but what about the e-mails? You know, the e-mails, big nothing burger. The Clinton Foundation, nothing there. God forbid, they get caught helping people overcome diseases as supposed to Donald Trump’s charity which, you know, was basically a slush fund that benefited one orphan, Donald Trump. And people think all these things are a wash. The media has to take some responsibility for that.

ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, I’m going to ask Bill Maher whether it is possible to be a comedian with Hillary Clinton as president.


MAHER: Hillary, I love her, but she’s not good at this. I mean, in 2008, she lost to a black man with a Muslim name. Now she’s losing to a 74-year-old Jewish socialist. I mean, Hillary, we’re making this as easy as we can for you, but you’re going to have to help a little.

ZAKARIA: That was Bill Maher on his HBO show “Real Time” talking about Hillary Clinton in February. Have his views changed? Listen in.

So who is Hillary Clinton, really? I mean, one of the this people wonder about is, who is that person behind this what seems like a programmed facade?

MAHER: I don’t find her to be this mystery to people. I mean, she's been out there for this long. Look, she is certainly shell-shocked from 30 years of being attacked. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s ever been more scrutinized, over-scrutinized. I always say she’s like a black driver in a white neighborhood and the police are the Republicans. They keep pulling her over and they keep having to let her go.

So, obviously, she’s guarded. Maybe she’s that way from the beginning, from her upbringing, but she’s – I can’t blame her. And, I mean, we’re starting to read all the e-mails. There’s nothing in there.

You know, they reveal what she is, a government nerd who never stops working. The kind of person who knows details, who believes government can do good, and I just think that’s exactly who she is. She’s someone who wants to roll up her sleeves and make a problem better, like Bill Clinton said at the convention. I don’t think there’s much more to it than that. I don’t see – I certainly don’t see a scary person. She’s a centrist.

The idea in their minds that she’s going to change the country very much is crazy. Bernie has moved her to the left to a degree, that’s good. But she’s not going to rock the boat. And what’s so ironic is that he’s the big businessman. They love him because he’s rich. And of course, if you’re rich, anything you say is brilliant.

But he’s the one that’s going to lose everybody their money. I’ve been saying this for a long time and now I see business people are saying it too. The market will tank before he’s even taken the oath of office because the market is very nervous, hates volatility, they pretend they hated Obama as the stock market went from 6900 to 18,000 but they’ve loved him, really, because he’s calm. He doesn’t rock the boat. He’s steady. And the market loves that. And Donald Trump is just the poster boy for volatility.

ZAKARIA: And if Hillary Clinton is as dull and intense as you say –

MAHER: Yes, it will be tough.

ZAKARIA:  –  how are you going to make the jokes?

MAHER: I mean, we always could make jokes every time there’s a passing of the guard. I remember when Bush left office, all the media called, all the comedians have said, will there ever be anybody as fun – well, of course, you know, the Republicans, first of all, will be who we make fun of mostly, even though they’re not the president as they haven’t been, somebody always steps up.

I mean, if George Bush goes down and a Sarah Palin steps up. And then a Ted Cruz, a John Boehner, I mean, Donald Trump. I mean, these people are the evolutionary chart in reverse. It just always gets worse. And I have no doubt that there are people who will step up for the Republican Party who will make my job easier if I’m here when I’m 110, which I hope to be.

ZAKARIA: Bill Maher, pleasure to have you on, as always.

MAHER: Pleasure to be here as always. Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Thank you so much.