Could this be the end of the Summer of Trump? Both MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and HBO’s Bill Maher wouldn’t be surprised. “We nailed him,” Matthews said last night on Real Time With Bill Maher, crowing about MSNBC’s playing – and replaying – Donald Trump’s non-response response to a supporter’s ludicrous birther assertions and Islamophobic aspersions.
During Real Time‘s mostly-Trump discussion Friday, Maher recalled how just days before he’d teased Hardball host Matthews about MSNBC’s Trump obsession, “and you said that’s because you want to be there when it all implodes.” Maher wondered whether Trump’s seeming acquiescence to a bigoted questioner during a New Hampshire rally Thursday signaled the presidential hopeful’s “peak.”
“We caught him,” Matthews responded, explaining that he and his MSNBC crew were “trying to figure out whether to stick with” Trump’s New Hampshire speech, which had been proceeding without much incident. When Trump announced he’d be taking audience questions, Matthews said, “I said stay with it because we don’t know what’s going to happen. And then he comes back with that birther thing, the President is not an American, the whole routine. I said we’re going to go with this.”
Trump had just started taking questions at the campaign rally when an audience member said, “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one — you know he’s not even an American. But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?”
Trump’s weak response: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things, a lot of people are saying bad things are happening, we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”
Matthews told Maher and his Real Time co-panelists, former New York governor George Pataki and entrepreneur Mark Cuban, that footage of John McCain forcefully defending Barack Obama against a similarly ill-informed audience member in 2008 was the capper in the Trump coverage. “We nailed him,” he said, “and we’re so glad we caught him.”
Trump himself seems, as usual, unfazed. “Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him?” he tweeted today. “I don’t think so!”
Also on Friday’s episode, Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos recounted his recent run-in with Trump, when he was ejected by a Trump bodyguard from a campaign stop after asking Trump some tough questions on immigration. “I take him very seriously,” Ramos told Maher. “I think his ideas are very dangerous to democracy, to freedom of the press and to minorities.”
Ramos also defended the 14-year-old Muslim boy detained by Texas police after his homemade alarm clock was mistaken by school officials for a bomb.
Maher wasn’t convinced. “This kid deserves an apology, but perspective – did the teacher really do anything wrong?” After noting that “lots of teenagers” around the world have joined ISIS, Maher said, “Teachers are supposed to see something that looks like a bomb and say ‘Oh wait, this just might be my white privilege talking?’”