Bill Maher invited Trump associate Roger Stone to Real Time on Friday night, interviewing the president’s “albino assassin” about his ties to alleged Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 and the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 Election. Compared to past weeks with Milo Yiannopoulos andTomi Lahren, Maher hit Stone with some tough questions about his role in the current scandal and the ongoing Congressional investigation. And while it’s a tougher interview, Stone still manages to flip and dive around questions while maintaining his story. Stone holds his ground even when Maher corners him on blatant fabrications — like the notion that no one on Trump’s staff had ties to Russia despite the clear evidence that they have. That said, Stone did seem ready to go before members of Congress and defend himself:
“I was maligned by a number of members of the committee who said things that were patently false, and in a free society I should have a chance to respond in the same forum. And I don’t need a subpoena, I don’t need immunity, but I want it to be in public—not behind closed doors. Let’s go, I’m ready!”
Despite being called a contentious interview, Maher and Stone still shared some friendly moments throughout the show. This is still a promotional appearance for Stone’s book and both men have a relationship that mirrors past interviews between Maher and folks like Kellyanne Conway and Ann Coulter. Stone even helps Maher celebrate the 420th episode of Real Time by delivering a weed cake to the host mid-show.
It’s nothing new for Real Time or Bill Maher to bridge the gaps between political enemies, but it’s just odd to reach out an olive branch to someone who allegedly has ties to one of the biggest scandals in American politics. Then again it is Maher’s choice and he’s a long-standing champion of free speech.
The Stone interview is also odd since Maher takes swipes at Trump’s group of surrogates and supporters throughout the episode. “New Rules” focuses on the many “enablers” of Trump’s ascent, nodding their heads and patting him on the back for his wild claims about crowd sizes, voter fraud, and the Muslim ban. This segment and the discussion in “Overtime” about the possibility of a Mike Pence presidency paint a picture of Trump being so unhinged that his presidency is a danger to the world. Maher is infuriated by the notion that people think Mike Pence would be worse than Donald Trump, saying his presidency would be a lot like panel member Rick Santorum’s presidency — if he could ever win.
While there’s a lot of hyperbole floating around following Trump’s election victory and a new smoking gun that will “sink him” every week, there are still moments like this on Real Time and elsewhere that undermine whatever “resistance” is being mounted. When Bill Maher closes his final show of last season wearing a “We’re Still Here” hat but then gives TV time to folks who rely on falsehoods and support the people being resisted against, it makes you scratch your head.