This April 8, 2016 photo released by HBO shows Bill Maher, host of "Real Time with Bill Maher," during a broadcast of the show in Los Angeles. Controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos will join Maher on his political talk show on Friday, Feb. 17. (Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP) (AP)

HBO's Bill Maher tackles the allegations of racism facing Trump: "He lost his one black friend"

"This is where we are, where the reality show people are now the reality?" Maher asked about the state of America


Joseph Neese
August 18, 2018 2:50PM (UTC)

Bill Maher wasted no time in addressing the accusations of racism brought up against President Donald Trump this week during his opening monologue Friday night. "Not such a good week for the president," the comedian said during his opening monologue. "Man, he lost his one black friend."

Maher was, of course, speaking about Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the breakout star from Trump's NBC reality show "The Apprentice" who followed the New York real estate mogul to the White House. Eighteen months later, Manigault-Newman was unceremoniously fired from her post as director of communications of the Office of Public Liaison . (Or, as Maher remembers her official title: assistant secretary for throwing shade.)

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"If you have spent your life as an American refusing to know who Omarosa is, well now you're f*ck out of luck," the comedian deadpanned on his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher." "Because she's got a book to sell."

The book in question, titled "Unhinged," is a tell-all account of Manigault-Newman's time inside the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Her memoir, which contains explosive allegations of racism and questions the Trump's mental fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, earned the distinction of "best-seller" on Amazon this week.

Sales have undoubtedly been bolstered by the reality TV star's strategic media blitz. It has been hard to turn on the news without seeing Manigault-Newman's face, and she has consistently backed up the claims in her books with "receipts." And, according to new reporting from the Associated Press, this could only be the beginning:

She's already dribbled out audio recordings of conversations, and video clips, texts or email could follow, according to the person who described what Manigault-Newman has called a multimedia "treasure trove." The person was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and asked for anonymity.

Pointedly, Maher tackled the convergence of reality TV with the White House, attacking America's obsession with wealth and fame head on. "But really, this is where we are?" the comedian asked. "This is where we are, where the reality show people are now the reality?" (Maher took a moment to imagine Putin's response: "I can't believe I have to collude with these people!")

Before skipping to the allegations of racism pouring out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Maher addressed Manigault-Newman's claim that the president is in "mental decline."

"She also says he drinks eight Diet Cokes a day, which cause dementia," Maher began his joke. "Which, I think, is probably true. But Diet Coke, c'mon, it's working! He does have the body of a Greek god. I'm sorry, he has the body of a Greek diner."

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This week, the president called Manigault-Newman a dog – language steeped in both misogyny and racism. Trump's pointed rhetoric followed his fired staffer's allegation that the president can be heard using the "N-word" "multiple times" on outtakes from "The Apprentice."

Recounting a passage from "Unhinged," Maher joked: "Omarosa says she and Trump were once in a black church, and she got up to do something. And he grabs her arm, and says you can't leave me here with 'these people.' You know, Christians!"

But calling the former highest-ranking person of color in his administration a "dog," was not the only time this week that Trump demonstrated his "deft touch with race," Maher pointed out.

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"Aretha Franklin passed away, I'm sure you heard. And of course this guy says yeah, she worked for me," he said. "She worked for you? A complete lie! This guy cannot ay rest in peace without lying."

"Trump said he was going to tweet his favorite Aretha song, R-E-S-P-E-C-T," Maher continued. "But he couldn't remember how to spell it."

You can watch Maher's full opening monologue here, which also contains a joke about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin:

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Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is the Managing Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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