The White House has responded to a petition started by Bill Maher to get President Obama on Real Time
Bill Maher got his birthday wish last month when a petition posted on We the People, where U.S. citizens can petition the White House, requesting a visit from President Barack Obama to his weekly show Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO garnered enough signatures to require an official response from the White House, which was finally released over the weekend.
While the statement began by praising Maher for drawing attention to such topics as climate change and money in politics, it stopped short of accepting the comedian’s offer to have Obama appear on his show or explain why he has refused to do so throughout his presidency despite Maher’s continued support, including a $1 million donation to an Obama Super PAC in 2012. The official response reads in part:
"The President’s communications team thinks strategically about scheduling presidential interviews, and we have made a concerted effort over the last couple of years to broaden the array of venues where the President appears — from talking to young people about health care on Between Two Ferns and a post-State of the Union conversation with YouTube stars, to a CNN Town Hall on gun violence and an interview with Mic.com on the Iran deal. Consistent with this approach, we’ll keep in mind Bill’s open invitation for a presidential appearance and give it the respectful consideration that Bill and his large audience deserve.Thanks again for raising your voices (we know Bill always raises his). We hope you’ll continue to use the platform to call on the Administration to address the policies and priorities you care about.— The We the People Team"
Maher launched the petition during Real Time on January 15, requesting that Obama appear on the show in honor of his 60th birthday, which took place several days later. The outspoken comedian pointed out that the president has sat down for interviews with all sorts of unconventional outlets.
“You’ve done everything but ultimate fighting and amateur porn. If you went any lower you’d be on Fox and Friends,” Maher joked at the time.
The petition quickly reached the 100,000 signature threshold needed to trigger a response from the White House. It has received over 320,000 signatures to date. Watch Maher’s initial plea below:
While the White House response wasn’t an outright rejection, it seems unlikely that Obama will be appearing on Real Time before he leave office. Some have theorized that his reluctance to appear on the show surround Maher’s outspoken criticisms of Islam, as well as his calling for the legalization of marijuana nationwide. The host recently made waves when he openly smoked pot on the set of the late-night talk show after criticizing the Obama administration’s lack of support on the issue.
Real Time with Bill Maher airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on HBO.