“Real Time” host Bill Maher had a tense exchange with Puck News correspondent Julia Ioffe after she claimed that Trump supporters “have a lot to repent for.”
During the “Overtime” segment where viewer questions are answered after the show on YouTube, Maher complained about the political polarization that has taken place across the country in recent years and how he doesn’t want to be forced to “choose sides” since he finds things disagreeable with both parties.
Presidential historian and Biden speechwriter Jon Meacham spoke about how he’s “friends” with many Republicans in his home state of Tennessee who don’t like former President Trump and how “they want forgiveness but they don’t want to repent.”
“I ain’t asking forgiveness for s—,” country music legend Trace Adkins reacted, sparking laughter from the audience. “It’s not personal, it’s policy.”
Ioffe, however, pushed back.
“It is personal. I think Trump made a lot of things personal,” Ioffe said. “And when we talk about the division in this country, we can’t talk about it as if it’s a meteorological phenomenon that just happened, right? There were certain things that were done by certain people in certain institutions, Trump among them – very consciously, to divide this country, to prey upon the fissures that already existed and to make them wider and wider and wider to the point where we can’t see each other across them.”
“So it’s not just like, ‘Oh my, this has happened.’ This was done in many ways on purpose by Trump… and so when we say it’s not personal, it is personal. And I do think people who supported Trump and who enabled Trump do have something to apologize for and do have a lot to repent for,” she continued.
“A man who calls countries s—hole countries, who tells congresspeople of color to go back to where they came from, who calls women pigs, who makes fun of their menstrual cycles, I could go on, and on, and on… And that people still follow him and think that’s still okay… That is something that we have to talk about,” she said.
“I would say most of the people I know who voted for Trump say, ‘The biggest mistake liberals make is thinking I like him’,” Maher responded.
“It doesn’t matter,” Ioffe interrupted. “If you vote for him -“
“What they’re saying is that you get two choices in this country, I would never vote for Donald Trump, nobody was harder on Donald Trump than me… but it’s a little more nuanced than that. It’s a little more nuanced than that. I understand why people who make the decision to vote, which most people do, based on not who I like the best but who I hate the least,” said Maher.
Ioffe pushed back, “That means all of the things he said and has done are not bad enough to keep you from voting from him, which means you’re more okay with him being in power and him having the nuclear codes and him having control of the army and the Department of Justice … that means you’re okay with that or you’re more okay with that than the other guy no matter what he said, no matter what he’s done.”
“It means all these things were not bad enough,” the Puck News founding partner later added.
“It depends on what’s your priority,” Maher said. “To me, the two biggest issues are democracy and the environment… but I don’t have kids. I know people who say, ‘I have kids and I don’t like it when they come home and say ‘Uh, they divided the class today into oppressors and oppressed. And if I changed my sex I don’t have to tell my parents’.’ There’s s— like that going on that makes people go, ‘You know, I agree. Donald Trump is a creep. He is everything wrong that could be stuffed into one man. But I have these other considerations.’ That’s all.”
He told Ioffe, “And that’s why you, you know, you seem like you have such contempt for half the country. I don’t think that’s gonna get us where we need to go because… I think we’ve crossed this line. And now the question is, how do we walk it back? How do we walk it back from I hate you so much that I can’t live with you. And we have to live with each other. There’s no apartment where we can put the tape down the middle of it. We have to find a way.”