UPDATED with video: Boris Epshteyn, the former Donald Trump adviser who’s now a public face for Sinclair Broadcast Group, insists his new boss is “straight down the middle” politically, repeatedly drawing gasps and laughs on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher tonight.
“That’s not true,” Epshteyn said when Maher described Sinclair as wanting “to be to the right of Fox News.”
“Fox is a cable channel,” Epshteyn said. “This is different.” Sinclair, he said, provides local channels with content that’s “straight down the middle.”
“If they hired you as the front man,” Maher snapped, “they’re not straight down the middle.”
“I’m not the front man, I’m the chief political analyst,” Epshteyn corrected.
And then things got testy.
“Boris, this was supposed to be the ‘I’m nice to you question,’ ” Maher said before turning the topic to Epshteyn’s old boss. “How long do you think Donald Trump will be president?”
“I think he can be president for eight years,” Epshteyn said, again to audience laughter.
Surprisingly, the reputedly short-tempered Epshteyn kept both his cool and his smile even as Maher, discussing Russia’s meddling in America’s elections, pointedly and firmly asked, not once but twice, “Who’s side are you on?”
“I’m on America’s side,” Epshteyn said, then said “You’ll have to ask Russia” when Maher asked about the election meddling.
“Oh for f*cks sake,” replied an exasperated Maher. Later in the interview, he said “just put me out of my misery and tell me why you like Donald Trump.”
Trump, said Epshteyn, is pragmatic, smart, kind and supportive, and “the best politician I’ve ever worked with.”
Donald Trump, Frum said, “has a death grip” on the Republican Party. “He is not going to go in a gentlemanly way.”
Also during tonight’s show, Maher paid tribute to his longtime manager Brad Grey. “We lost a giant this week,” Maher said. “This show wouldn’t exist without him. He made some enemies in this town, but he was a great friend to this show and he will be missed.”