White House responds to Bill Maher petition

Bill Maher petition White House
White House responds to Bill Maher

White House officials responded to a petition launched by HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher requesting President Obama to appear on the show or to explain why President Obama would not appear on the show.

Bill Maher launched the petition on January 15th during his show. The audience quickly blew through the 100k signatures needed to trigger a response from the White House. The petition received over 300k signatures in total. 

The petition reads:

Herewith, on the occasion of Bill Maher’s 60th birthday, we the people, especially viewers of Real Time with Bill Maher, respectfully request that President Obama appear on Real Time and thereby honor that particular audience (and their support for him), as he has so honored the viewers of so many other TV shows and media outlets; or if not, to please, respectfully, tell us why.

On Saturday, the White House responded without providing an answer. They simply said they would take the request under consideration.

The response from the White House reads:

Thanks to every one of you who signed the We the People petition asking the President to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher. With more than 320,000 signatures, Bill has once again demonstrated he knows how to inspire and motivate his viewers!

Plenty of us around here watch Real Time because we admire Bill’s passion for spreading the science on climate change, asking tough questions about money in politics, and trying to burst “the bubble” where some of our politicians — and too many of our nation’s critical political debates — exist.

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

P.S. Before we forget, happy belated 60th birthday, Bill! You haven’t lost a step, and the gray hair makes you look, dare we say it, presidential. We hope our card didn’t get lost in the mail.

You can watch Bill Maher launching the petition below.

  • horatio

    So….basically some wordsmith tried to be nice and did not answer the petition…just politely evaded it. We know how much appearing on 2 ferns with whats his name and the Youtube ‘stars’ burnished your bonifides as a statesman Barry. Think you should confirm being on Bill Maher so we can see you play with the big kids for a change.

    • Albury Smith

      If President Obama couldn’t “play with the big kids,” he wouldn’t have been popularly elected twice to his current office.

      • Andrew Joiner

        They mean while being interviewed by other critical liberals who are going to ask him hardball questions about policy and not what his favorite sandwich is or playing ping pong or whatnot.

        • Albury Smith

          Oh you must mean all of those softball questions President Obama faced while running twice for the highest office in the land…



          • Andrew Joiner

            Nope. I meant while being interviewed by a talk show host while he is already in office. Do you have a broader argument you are trying to make?? I’m a bit confused… What part about the petition did you not entirely understand?

          • Albury Smith

            …while being interviewed by a talk show host who’s well known for his profanity and vulgarity while President Obama is in the office of the US presidency?

          • Andrew Joiner

            Yes. In front of an audience of millions of people who not only would have, but did likely go out and vote for him to be in said office, twice.
            It’s 2016, profanity is allowed on HBO, and your excuse barely functions on account of the profane and vulgar things said by other people who have interviewed him in the past. Besides it just sounds trite and childish, “He curses! And says naughty things!!”

          • Albury Smith

            I’m a huge Bill Maher fan, and don’t think it’s at all “trite and childish” to point out that a sitting US president might be reluctant to appear on a show whose moderator “…curses! And says naughty things,” as you so childishly put it. The language doesn’t bother me in the slightest, nor would it be likely to offend President Obama, but he has the dignity of his high office to consider. Since Mr. Maher and his audiences are predominantly liberal Democrats, Mr. Obama would hardly be concerned about “hardball questions about policy” from “critical liberals” or anyone else.

          • Andrew Joiner

            That argument doesn’t work when he has been on other much less dignified programs, by people who have said things just as uncouth as he has. I personally think if his show is dignified enough for courageous and inspiring Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai (not to mention all of the U.S. Senators, Congresspersons, and countless other high-ranking public officials the world over), then it should be dignified enough for the President of the U.S. He’s the President, not Jesus.

          • Keith Gaspar

            Often, Bill makes important points about problems with Islam. Just as often his opinions come out as spit-flecked tirades. I wouldn’t blame the White House for not wanting to be associated with such.

            Nonetheless, I bet scheduling issues are the real problem here. It took the White House a year find a time in which they could schedule the Marc Maron podcast interview and the timing for the marinade gig was a lot more flexible than Real Times schedule.

          • Andrew Joiner

            That’s exactly what it is. It’s because he has vocal opinions about Islam. Yes of course. He is a religious critic. It’s all a part of this Democratic strategy of not naming something what it is, like f*&king Voldemort. No wonder it drives the Republicans nuts. It’s these kinds of questions that are why people would like him on the show. Help us understand mister President sir, what do you mean about all of these “not Islamic terrorism” things and in light of the fact that (I voted for you twice) it’s your last year in office to do so, and a possible imminent threat of ISIS this year brought to you by the same intel who were telling George W. that Bin Laden was going attack us real bad. No that I want to sound “hawkish,” like some crazy Republican nutjob right? John McCain would have had us occupying Syria and Libya (and etc.) for God’s sake. And.. I’m not THAT worried about it, I mean, about as much as gang violence, it probably won’t be me that gets dead so… f*&k it. Right? Afghanistan is now on the never leave model, and Iraq PLUS also now Syria is a total disaster and sending millions of people to Europe who are too dumb to be able to handle it, and in the middle of it don’t say certain phrases that may offend… oh who the hell knows, Iran? saudi Arabia? To the point of comical lunacy. At least George W. just said look people they are Muslims but don’t go blame the Muslim people that live next door. A strategy that arguably worked better considering the uptick in the number of domestic assaults against Mosques and Muslim people here now as compared to then.

          • Albury Smith

            Which “much less dignified programs,” and “by [what] people who have said things just as uncouth as Bill [Maher] has”?

          • Andrew Joiner

            The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report had consistently lower ratings and Jon and Stephen have said all sorts of vulgar things and have cursed on their shows a lot (they are forced to bleep it out, and both he and Colbert have been critical of the censorship and have even done bits about in their shows). They are comedians. Singling out Bill Maher for those things is silly. The whole dignity of office thing is all well and good but he has literally done every other show, and yes, by people who have made jokes about penises and said the f word.

          • Albury Smith

            Have it your way — President Obama’s afraid to appear on a show with a very friendly audience and moderator because some “critical liberals…are going to ask him hardball questions about policy and not what his favorite sandwich is or playing ping pong or whatnot.”

          • CanuckleDragger

            You stepped in it big time by being vague with your first comment and people mistakenly thought you were critical when you were being supportive. Compare Maher’s comments to Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh. At least Maher manages to be hilarious. Beck and Limbaugh are batsh!t.

          • Albury Smith

            Not to mention the fact that Maher’s a hell of a lot more intelligent and educated than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, although that’s not saying much. My first comment as well as all of my subsequent ones couldn’t possibly have been construed as anything but supportive of the president’s decision not to appear on Real Time, at least while he’s still in office. They weren’t critical of Bill Maher either.

          • Christian Olsen

            Well he can go on there and plead the fifth like his IRS attack dog Lois Lerner

          • Albury Smith

            Darrrell Issa can go on there and turn off President Obama’s microphone, as he immediately did to his committee co-chair Elijah Cummings after testifying for and badgering Ms. Lerner for 20 minutes or more. Former IRS chief and GEEDUBYA APPOINTEE Doug Shulman had already told the rabidly partisan GOP jackasses more than a year earlier that the IRS directive had not come from the White House, and that the only applicant denied tax-exempt status was a LIBERAL organization.

          • badboymoviestar

            You mean a talk show host who’s exercising his 1st amendment right?

          • Albury Smith

            I mean one of my favorite talk show hosts who’s exercising his 1st amendment right, and a POTUS who’s exercising his too, for very legitimate and understandable reasons.

          • Vitaly Gurevich

            Blind idiot

          • Albury Smith

            Gee; that was fact-filled…

          • tikitools1

            only 1 problem with your argument, since 911 we invaded 2 nations, lied repeatedly about the build up to war, gave out 2 trillion dollars in defense contracts, tortured innocent people, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians , crashed the economy , bailed out the rich, spy on everything, protect the Saudis , lock people up without trials,etc etc but 911 no way they could do that!

          • Albury Smith

            I guess the evil US was just lucky to have al Qaeda terrorists SUICIDE bomb its embassies in Nairobi & Dar es Salaam in 1998, SUICIDE bomb the USS Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, and SUICIDE attack it again in NYC and Washington DC on 9/11/2001, huh?

          • badboymoviestar

            Trump supporter

          • WhiteJesus

            i.e. moron

          • Albury Smith

            Wrong — I’m an Obama and Hillary supporter.

          • tikitools1

            Obama is a war criminal just like Bush, he doesn’t want to face someone who will call him out on that!

          • Albury Smith

            From OBL’s 1998 (second) fatwa: “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies-civilians and military-is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God [blah, blah, blah…]'”
            Allah akbar, Abu.

          • badboymoviestar

            Look up the definition of “war criminal” in its entirety before throwing the term around like a high schooler.

          • tikitools1

            Obama has killed thousands of innocent women and children with drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and the US bombing of a Doctors without Borders hospital appears intentional but Obama has blocked an independent investigation (how Bush like is that).

            many consider him a war criminal

          • badboymoviestar

            And there are an equal number of people who believe Bush perpetrated 9/11 to finish his dads job in Iraq…. I’m sure we could go back and forth for days, but I don’t want to.

          • You should review the civilian casualties of WW2. You should review what happens when combatants are embedded with civilians willing or not.

            I have relatives who were bombed on both sides of the war in WW2. I can be more objective than you.

      • tikitools1

        He beat McCain and Romney by default

        • Albury Smith

          He beat McCain and Romney by popular vote, despite GOP gerrymandering and their encroachments on Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

          • badboymoviestar

            Redistricting = illegal.

            Redraw lines on your first grade pictures… not voting districts. That’s BS cheating, and everyone involved deserves a punch in the mouth. I’d even take on Bush in an old fashioned fisticuffs to settle it. Bush Jr (any of them), or even Bush Jr II (who the F*** keeps count of this?!?!)

          • Albury Smith

            Redistricting’s actually legal, as unethical as it is, just as TRAP laws are a technically legal way around Roe v Wade. The GOP will stoop to anything…

      • suz33

        bush was also “elected” twice moron… then again, cant expect anything sensible from someone who dedicates his life to propping up the official lies of 9/11 year after year..


  • D’Glester Hardunkichud

    Bill Maher is a whiny little baby. He doesn’t deserve a show and he needs to learn proper etiquette. Poor excuse for a talk show host.

    • bubbles

      its called entertainment you idiot. and judging by the number who signed on i would say you are the one that is whining.

    • Jill Carnes

      dude, it’s HBO.

    • Alexander Kloumann

      Seems like you’re the whiner, what with your etiquette concerns. Etiquette is a useless quality in a comedian/political commentator, and I’m glad Bill is lacking in it.

    • WhiteJesus

      Maher: Highly successful
      You: Loser

    • CanuckleDragger

      You probably prefer Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo. That’s about as intellectual as a right winger gets.

      • D’Glester Hardunkichud

        What makes you think I’m a right-winger?!

  • bodywise

    So what’s the problem? All he needs to do is appear at the beginning of the show. He will get a rousing reception. Then he leaves.

    • Andrew Joiner

      Loud arrogant and opinionated can’t be the reason if that is what the writer was implying, because that would have ruled out Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert… Pretty much leaves just the atheist thing. If Bill seriously were Jewish, appearing would have been a no brainer. Atheists are the one thing mainstream Democrats can still sht on and not have to apologize for. Even ones who give you a million bucks. I’m not a die hard fan of political reach-arounds, but the guy gave him a million bucks. Just go on the fckn show…

      • farimbalanced

        Wow, where to start?? First of all, Stewart and Colbert are not “loud and arrogant.” Second, Bill wouldn’t be “seriously Jewish” even if he weren’t an atheist–he was raised Catholic. Third, Obama wouldn’t care if Maher is an atheist (he may be one himself, and he’s not running for office) or that he smokes pot (so did Obama at one time, and virtually every other politician under 70)
        Obama obviously wouldn’t be on the panel, but interviewed at the beginning of the show, Maher would ask him why he doesn’t use such terms as Islamofascist, etc, and the President would have an intelligent answer (lumping all Muslims, etc) Maher would limit his profanities, as he does with other guests, ask probing, intelligent questions, and Obama would have no problem answering.
        Obama will appear on the show. The only question is when.

        • Andrew Joiner

          I said seriously were, not seriously Jewish.. I meant that if he were Jewish or Catholic like Stewart or Colbert then it would be more likely and it probably would. It is probably the same reason Hilary won’t go on. I can’t really think of another. Whatever the Presidents otherwise unstated reason is, it just looks odd and unfriendly at this point. But who cares, whatever, let him go on Ellen and talk about what kind of deodorant he uses. I like the President. I wouldn’t have voted for him otherwise, but I also have HBO, and I want him to have to talk about why his Middle East strategy seems to be falling apart both at home and abroad, and also why he hasn’t acted on any marijuana policy reform together with other criminal justice reforms and only plans on helping out young black men after he leaves office. For a whole 15 minutes.

        • bodywise

          Right. It’s very simple. He just appears at the initial segment then leaves. He does not become or join the panel. Nice appearance.

          But, with the supreme court fight, he has to be low key for a few more months. He should appear during his final months.

          There is the usual amount of trolling in the many of the above comments. The response from the White House was mealy mouthed. Vapid nonsense.

  • disqus_HhnCjB1gaw

    c’mon mr president don’t make us wait until you leave office! please? pretty please?

  • spec9

    Obama should do the show. It would be interesting and entertaining. I suspect Obama doesn’t want to be on with such a polarizing figure. Especially one that criticizes Islam so much.

  • ga1999

    What a bunch of scripted horse manure.

  • Alexander Kloumann

    Bill Maher is the most edgy and intellectually honest of the modern comedian-pundits, and it really is shameful that Obama has avoided his show, especially since Maher gave his reelection campaign a MILLION DOLLARS.

    • Andrew Joiner

      Exactly, I remember when he had Chelsea Handler on and she reiterated to the people at home who think that’s not a lot of money to them because they’re celebrities, that that is in fact A LOT of money to them. He felt that loss. It was a nice and motivating gesture too for people in his camp during a bitter reelection process. And in a season when the only people dropping cash like that are usually industry tycoons giving to Republicans purely for their own personal investment.

  • Michael McLaughlin

    I think Bill Maher would slaughter Obama to a degree. Bill Maher isn’t afraid to point fingers and as embarrassing questions. Thus, if you’re Obama, stay away.

  • El Howard

    Obvious answer: “No, because honestly, Bill Maher is kind of an asshole!”

    • WhiteJesus

      Says a garden variety asshoIe. Stuff it.

  • zsandon

    Maher should retract the invitation. It’s one thing to be insulted, another to be taken for a perennial idiot.

  • Bleus

    The problem almost certainly stems from two fronts: Mr. Maher’s broadcasted anti-theism and his overt consumption of Marijuana. While I am most certainly onside with his well known positions on these subjects, and as sad as it most certainly is, the reality is that it becomes politically difficult for Mr. Obama to be directly associated with these positions (not to mention, after the publicization of Mr Maher’s political contribution(s) to the Obama electoral campaigns). Furthermore, the potential appearance of a sitting President in a way that could easily be described as “pandering to a big doner”, and/or “validating a pro-drug” agenda , and/or, worst of all, ascribing to/supporting atheism would make his already severely limited ability to govern over the next ~11 months even more difficult . It would not surprise me though, to see the President make an appearance either shortly before the end of his term, or soon thereafter, when such concerns are pretty insignificant.

  • rr3A

    President Obama…IMO….will grant him an interview ….most likely in DC that can be shown before the start of a particular show….don’t believe he will be present at the show…nor participate in any kind of panel discussion….only an interview with the atheist pot smoker liberal TV personality….that’s how is portrayed in the republican bubble… keep in mind that Democrats are not as nuts or loyal …depends on which side of the aisle you’re in….as republicans who applaud everything vs liberals ….

  • Well, at least he answered absolutely clearly: “President Obama has become a politician uber alles.” Kind of silly for us to have hoped for anything else, given the way the American political system works. It’s an extremely intense game, and you have to be first and foremost an excellent politician to survive, let alone win the game.

    Actually, even Bernie Sanders has excellent political skills, but I can’t yet decide if the Donald of Trump has actual skills or instincts for politics, or if he is playing a completely different game… When I think about it that way, maybe Hillary Clinton is the LEAST political of the candidates? (But her husband is probably the most political and I’m also dismissing many of the neo-GOP wannabes as just plain nuts.)

  • tensacross

    what PR flack wrote that lol

  • Erica

    It’s not like he’s obligated to go on the show just because people signed a petition. But I really hope he does. I would love to see a conversation between him and Maher. And Maher has defended Obama against right-wingers time and time again.

    • Seaguy3000

      yeah but you know Bill is going to bring up legalization of ganja to the Prez……and I’m sure the latter wants to avoid that issue….

  • buddy66

    Hah. Maher would fire up a doobie and try to pass it to Barry. But he does deserve something for his million bucks…

  • Gregg H

    Bill Maher knows why Obama won’t do his show. Everyone with half a brain knows why. This is why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNMhNJDRnhU

  • Isabelle Baptiste

    No way our Imam in Chief would go onto Real Time. Maher is onto Islam’s wickedness and recently referred to Obama as our Muslim Prez. Maher has nonstopped whined about that millions bucks he donated which is totally tedious too.

  • AJ2

    So no answer. Guess that $1million Maher donation doesnt count for much. Is Obama afraid of being asked a tough question that Seinfeld or YouTubers would never pose?

  • skip lee

    What the hell is ” We the people team” ?….

  • Christian Olsen

    Wow it took a month and a half to respond. That’s no way to treat the Liberal poster child.

  • Buck E. Fush

    My only disappointment with Obama’s presidency has been his fear of Bill Maher

  • Cris Cassity

    Thanks Maher,for helping to spread the fear of climate change,the Presidents favorite fear mongering ploy,carefully concealed by him forcing the Pentagon to prepare for it,since they can’t object to his order.Please be aware that the truth will come out if our greatest fears are realized and a Democrat doesn’t win the Presidency. Consider Canada for your new home. The WH.

  • vince

    Bill you hate Islam so why would our Muslim lover in chief go on your show?