During Friday’s edition of Real Time With Bill Maher, most of the panel had few kind things to say about Republicans and conservatives. Panelist Thom Hartmann referred to them as “rubes” while host Bill Maher described them as “stupid and racist.”
The discussion began with a focus on the meaning of the word “elite” and who it refers to, as a result of populist Fox News host Steve Hilton’s presence on the panel. According to Maher, “When I hear elite, I think of Brett Kavanaugh.” Maher referred to Kavanaugh as “the guy who went to the asshole factory prep school” before suggesting that “when the Trump people talk about the elites,” they are referring to “some liberal arts professor at Oberlin.”
Progressive radio show host Thom Hartmann jumped in, saying: When Republicans use the word ‘elite,’ they are referring to smart people. When Democrats use the word ‘elite,’ they are referring to rich people.” Perhaps that was his way of describing Republicans as “dumb.”
A discussion ensued about the vague sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh that became public after his confirmation hearings concluded, where Hartmann proceeded to effectively declare Kavanaugh guilty: “It is bizarre, lying to the FBI, you go to jail. She’s saying I want to talk to the FBI. He’s saying and his friend is saying, no, I don’t want to talk to the FBI. That should tell you everything you need to know.”
According to Hartmann, the Republicans are “keeping their eye on their constituency” by supporting Brett Kavanaugh before giving a detailed description of his depiction of the Republican Party: “They put together, you know, it started out as, we are all about the rich people, but, you know, there aren’t enough rich people to get them elected so we’ve got to bring in the rubes so let’s throw out some gun stuff but mostly let’s throw out some God stuff.”
Host Bill Maher suggested that lots of other judges would advance the Republican constituency’s goal of getting rid of Roe v. Wade but stated that the President has decided to protect Kavanaugh at all costs because he argued “you can’t ever, ever go after a President when he is in office.” Hartmann later repeated the lie that Kavanaugh referred to birth control pills as abortifacients (he was merely stating the plaintiffs’ position in a particular case) and panelist PJ O’Rourke sarcastically suggested that Kavanaugh wanted to ban masturbation.
Hilton, the lone non-Trump hater on the panel, said that using language like “rubes” to describe Republicans explains why President Trump got elected. Maher disagreed, saying “like they would have voted for Hillary anyway” before smearing them as racist: “I hate this idea that we can't talk about the two things they don't want us to say, stupid and racist, even though check and check. You know, I’m tired of pretending. I am. They don’t even vote their economic interests.”
According to Maher, “the Republican Party is just becoming...11 older white men on the Judiciary Committee, it looks like the town elders who banned dancing on ‘Footloose.’” It comes across as quite ironic that less than a minute after smearing an entire group of people as racist, Maher made a sweeping generalization about a group of people based on their race.
Perhaps O’Rourke said it best when he described the elite as “wise ass pundits who appear on TV.” No matter how one chooses to define “elite,” plenty of elitism was on display on Friday night’s edition of Real Time, not an uncommon occurrence in today’s media landscape; whether it’s on cable news or the so-called “comedy” shows that have simply become a conduit for additionial round-the-clock Trump criticism.
At one point, Maher remarked that “every time we seem to get to one of these things, these scandals or big news stories that the whole country is watching, it just makes us more divided. You see the people pushing away even further.” He’s right. Maybe he fails to realize that the elitism on his show definitely does not help make us less divided.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Real Time With Bill Maher is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Real Time With Bill Maher
BILL MAHER: So this whole discussion makes me think that, you know, this word “elite…”
STEVE HILTON: Yes.
MAHER: …everyone hates elites. And we all, when you hear that word, have a different idea. I think when you say elite, you are thinking of something up completely different of what I am thinking. When I hear elite, I think of Brett Kavanaugh.
MAHER: That’s exactly who I think of. The guy who went to the asshole factory prep school, right, which may or may not be why he thinks he can get away with doing anything, who, you know, Heritage Foundation, all through this pipeline, you can be mediocre and still advance. That, to me, that’s who the elites are. And I think when the Trump people talk about the elites, not that you are necessarily a Trump person, it’s like some liberal arts professor at Oberlin.
THOM HARTMANN: When Republicans use the word “elite,” they are referring to smart people. When Democrats use the word “elite,” they are referring to rich people. It really just kind of boils down to that.
MAHER: That’s…you’re right.
PJ O’ROURKE: When I say elite, I mean like wise ass pundits who appear on TV.
HILTON: Yes, definitely, I agree with that. We are all, we are all elite. But I think the most important thing is not who is in it but the elitism. Are you an elitist? Are you in favor of things that help the people at the top or are you in favor of policies that help working people?
CATHERINE RAMPELL: But again, which party, which party fills that criteria?
HILTON: You’ve got to get over this party. Both parties, honestly, you’ve got to understand, both parties have totally let people down for decades. And that’s why we need something new.
MAHER: This is what drives me crazy about the politics. I saw it this week with Kavanaugh. It’s like everything with Trump world divides into two realities, obvious truth and a crazy conspiracy theory. Either…
HILTON: Yes. It’s flipped over. That’s right.
MAHER: We don’t know…I thought about this often. We don’t know exactly what happened in that room in 1982, and I did some research on this.
O’ROURKE: You traveled back in time and had a beer?
MAHER: Trauma doesn’t necessarily make you remember everything better but also, the fact that it was trauma. I’m pretty sure something happened in there that severely traumatized this woman. But they want us to believe that she…I don’t know… traveled back in time from when she was 15 to fuck up Brett Kavanaugh’s life?
RAMPELL: And put a witness in the room?
MAHER: And put a witness in the room, and the one asking for the FBI investigation. You know, to believe anything from Trump world, you have to like, get into this…it is like the Arab spring.
HARTMANN: It is bizarre, lying to the FBI, you go to jail. She’s saying I want to talk to the FBI. He’s saying and his friend is saying, no, I don’t want to talk to the FBI. That should tell you everything you need to know.
MAHER: Republicans keep their eye on the ball, though. That’s…
O’ROURKE: Or some other part of the body.
MAHER: Very often.
HARTMANN: I think what the Republicans are doing is keeping their eye on their constituency. They put together, you know, it started out as, we are all about the rich people, but, you know, there aren’t enough rich people to get them elected to so we got to bring in the rubes so let’s throw out some gun stuff but mostly let’s throw out some God stuff. And then all the religious people flock around, they want abortion.
MAHER: Abortion, that’s what I mean. That’s the eye on the ball for them.
Abortion, Brett Kavanaugh, Catholic, come on. Catholics teach you, especially his upbringing, it’s always wrong, you know he’s going to get rid of Roe vs. Wade. They know that and it’s everything about getting Brett Kavanaugh. And for Trump, there is a lot of conservative justices who might do that. There is only one who’s on record saying, you can’t ever, ever go after a President when he is in office. For Trump, it really has to be this one guy…
RAMPELL: Which may be why they don’t want to pull him, right? I mean, there is a long list of these right-wing justices waiting in the wings, they could easily swap them out. There is a reason why they haven’t.
MAHER: It’s got to be him.
O’ROURKE: Well, he’d make masturbation illegal. That’s what worries me.
O’ROURKE: Kavanaugh. I mean, because we are talking Catholicism here. It’s not just abortion, you know?
HARTMANN: Well, he said in the hearings that birth control pills are abortifacients and they’re not. I mean, you know, he doesn’t even understand simple science.
MAHER: But that shows you…
HILTON: You know when you, it’s when you talk like that and use language like the rubes and all the rest of it, honestly, that is exactly the reason…
O’ROURKE: That he got elected!
HILTON: That he got elected.
O’ROURKE: It’s you! You caused it!
HARTMANN: It’s all my fault.
O’ROURKE: It’s all your fault! You called them rubes, basket of deplorables!
MAHER: Right, like they would have voted for Hillary anyway. That is the biggest bullshit thing. I hate this idea that we can’t talk about the two things they don’t want us to say, stupid and racist, even though check and check. You know, I’m tired of pretending. I am. They don’t even vote their own economic interests. All right. But I want to ask one last question about how…every time we seem to get to one of these things, these scandals or big news stories that the whole country is watching, it just makes us more divided. You see the people pushing away even further. And it’s like the Republican Party is just becoming…okay, we see, you know, the 11 men, 11 older white men on the Judiciary Committee, it looks like the town elders who banned dancing on “Footloose.” And, you know, I heard Ted Cruz this week, he’s attacking Beto O’Rourke because he was in a rock band.