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A Tale Of Two Interviews: Bill Maher Presses Nancy Pelosi, Jake Tapper Lets Her Rant


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi carried out another weekend tour of media to spin a positive story on the Democrat activities of the week, and to get in as many jabs at Republicans and President Trump as possible. She appeared on comedian Bill Maher’s HBO show on Friday, then journalist Jake Tapper’s CNN show on Sunday, but ironically, was asked tougher questions by the comedian, and made jokes with the journalist.

Maher, a long-time liberal and Trump-critic, started his 10-minute interview pressing Pelosi on how Congress can spend $2.7 trillion in deficit funds over coronavirus and likely hurt more people with a failed economy than the virus itself will.

MAHER: That’s a lot of money, you know, in a very short period of time. I know Congress controls the purse strings. I can’t imagine there’s much left in the purse. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how – I know we can bailout certain sectors, as we have done in the past. I don’t know how you can just keep indefinitely writing checks. We were $20 trillion in the hole to begin with. And all world governments, who are already in debt, are doing this. How can the whole world be writing this funny money?

Pelosi said it was a “matter of life and death” and quickly pivoted to pointing fingers at Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as “$2 trillion tax break for the wealthiest people in our country.”

Maher pressed:

Well, it will recover unless people get wise to the fact we’re just writing checks for money that doesn’t exist. I mean – what is the point of bailing out banks who are just going to loan back the money that doesn’t exist to us again? It seems like it’s a house of cards that could, in the end, wind up hurting more people than the disease.

Pelosi did not address Maher’s question head on, but talked about the Paycheck Protection Program sending billions to businesses, government, and individuals and why she stalled on passing more money when its coffers ran out.

“Well, it is an investment. It is stimulus to the economy, hopefully when that comes,” she said, before again pivoting to decry the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from three years ago. “It is not anything in comparison to the irresponsibility of a tax cut – almost $2 trillion when you count the interest on the debt – that all of the deficit hawks, fiscal conservatives didn’t even give one ounce of thought to.”

Two days later, Pelosi appeared on CNN’s Sunday morning show with host Jake Tapper, where he asked Pelosi about former Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that he supported Trump’s Jan. 31 partial travel ban from China, a move that numerous experts agree likely saved countless lives during the early stages of the cornoavirus pandemic.

“Do you agree that it was the right move by the president at the time?” Tapper asked.

“Actually, tens of thousands of people were still allowed in from China,” Pelosi said, referring to American citizens abroad who were exempted from the ban and allowed to return home. “So it wasn’t as it was described as this great moment…If you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

Tapper did not ask the speaker if she would have denied American citizens abroad from returning to the United States, or if she downplayed the threat of the virus from China in February when she went on a walking tour in San Fransisco’s Chinatown declaring “everything is fine… We think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown.” Instead, Tapper let Pelosi rant, pivoting to stimulus checks and singing the praises of “our bill,” all before sliding in a dig at Trump she clearly thought was clever and wanted to get in before the segment ended.

“What the president said, when, disinfectant in the body. You know what they call that? They call that an embalming. That’s the medical term,” she said.

Despite her discombobulated delivery, the joke probably landed how she wanted it, which was with a Vox writer tweeting the 10-second sound bite for thousands of retweets.

Earlier in the same interview, Tapper did push Pelosi when he asked about sending even more funding for state and local governments in yet another bailout bill.

“Was this a tactical mistake by you and Senator Schumer?” Tapper asked.

“Just calm down,” Pelosi shot back. “We will have state and local, and we will have it in a very significant way. It’s no use going on to what might have been,” she added. But despite asking her questions inconvenient to her messaging Tapper, again, allowed Pelosi to run away rambling about how everything is going according to plan, without any follow-up questions.

It’s unsurprising that Maher’s show has lost elements of humor and taken on a more serious tone without taping in front of his usual live audience, but it should be surprising, if not alarming, that Pelosi is held more accountable on an HBO talk show than by the so-called purveyors of truth at CNN. Many Americans have tuned out cable news altogether, and maybe that’s because you can get the same or better news value from HBO comedians these days.