Trevor Noah: ‘Bloomberg … encouraged his police department to treat black people like they were all criminals.’ Photograph: Youtube
Late-night TV roundup

Trevor Noah: Bloomberg talked about black people 'like they're crime piñatas'

Late-night hosts on Bloomberg’s explanations of stop-and-frisk, Barr’s criticism of Trump’s tweets and Kelly’s defense of Vindman


Trevor Noah

President Trump and presidential candidate/fellow New Yorker Mike Bloomberg may have gotten into a Twitter spat on Thursday, but according to Trevor Noah, “the real threat to Bloomberg’s campaign is his past.” Earlier this week, an audio recording from 2015 of Bloomberg defending his controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which disproportionately affected minority residents during his time as New York City’s mayor, circulated through the press. “We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods,” he says in the clip. “Yes, that’s true. Why did we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them.”

“Wow, that is not a good look,” said Noah on Thursday’s Daily Show. “Think about it: while Bloomberg is out there trying to win the black vote in 2020, he’s on tape in 2015 talking about black people like they’re crime piñatas.”

The comments are definitely not going to go over well with the black voters Bloomberg is trying to court, Noah said. “It’s the same way you would lose white voters if a tape came out of you saying that pets aren’t the same as babies. All the pumpkin spice in the world can’t save you after that.”

Worse still, Noah continued, is that there are more damning comments; in an interview from last year, Bloomberg said white people are disproportionately targeted by stop-and-frisk, while minority residents are under-targeted. “According to Bloomberg, white people were the real victims of stop-and-frisk,” said Noah. “Black people and Latinos spent years – years – saying they were harassed by the police and Bloomberg’s response was: ‘I hear you, we have been unfair – to white people.’”

Facing backlash, Bloomberg has been reticent, dismissing the comments as something said five years ago that “doesn’t reflect what I do every day”.

Noah called bullshit: “Five years? What difference is that supposed to make for you? ‘Look, five years ago I was just a 72-year-old man, I didn’t know any better. I’m much older now, which automatically makes you less racist.’

“Clearly the comments in those clips do reflect what Bloomberg was doing as mayor, for the simple reason that it’s what he did as mayor,” Noah continued. “You don’t have to be a genius to figure this out: as much as Bloomberg is trying to reposition himself now that he needs the support of black voters, he encouraged his police department to treat black people like they were all criminals.”

Bloomberg has tried to dodge and shrug off the bad press, but “reporters won’t let this story go – they keep hassling him at events, questioning him about his motives, just trying to find any little thing that he’s done wrong,” said Noah. “It must be so frustrating for him, and to that I say: Mike Bloomberg, welcome to the world of stop-and-frisk.”

Jimmy Kimmel

“I’ve been thinking a lot today about what President Trump does for Valentine’s,” said Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night. “I mean, like what does he get the first lady, Melania, and the second lady, Lindsey Graham? What does he get them – flowers, chocolate, taco bowls?”

In other White House news, the attorney general, William Barr, caused a stir on Thursday by telling reporters the president should stop tweeting about pending justice department cases – “in other words, he’s like, ‘Listen, moron, how am I supposed to do your dirty work if you keep telling people about it?” said Kimmel. “I think it’s a PR move,” he said. “If Barr did this without Trump’s OK … he’d be covered in tweet vomit right now. He’d be covered in little orange fist marks all over his face.”

Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly also spoke out against the president for the first time this week, “which is all well and good, but it’s been now a year since he left the White House”, said Kimmel. “This is like a smoke detector that goes off after your house burns down.”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert turned his attention to the next Democratic primary on 29 February in his home state of South Carolina. “As a native son, I’m gonna be on this election like shrimp on grits, like mustard sauce on barbecue, like Confederate flags on more vehicles than I’m comfortable acknowledging,” he said.

The contest is critical for former vice-president Joe Biden, who struggled in Iowa and New Hampshire and has staked his campaign on turning out African American and Latino voters in other states. “Well, sure, that’s because the first two states to vote are Iowa and New Hampshire, which are so white you have to go to the supermarket’s international aisle to buy pepper,” said Colbert.

Biden is currently leading with black voters at 27%, according to Politico, with Bloomberg second. “Now that sounds surprising, but Bloomberg has been out there in the African American community, shaking hands and frisking babies,” Colbert said.

Bloomberg has been dogged by criticism of his former stop-and-frisk policy, but also by stories about toxic work environments for women at his companies; he has refused to release women who sued him from their non-disclosure agreements. “Oh good, yet another New York billionaire with a questionable history with women,” said Colbert.

Seth Meyers

On Late Night, Seth Meyers focused on two former Trump chiefs of staffs, John Kelly and Reince Priebus. “Kelly never spoke up when he was Trump’s chief of staff during some of Trump’s worst abuses and lowest moments, but now that he is getting paid to give speeches, [he] seems to have grown a conscience,” Meyers said, in reference to Kelly’s comments defending Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council adviser dismissed by Trump after he testified against him in the impeachment proceedings. Meyers had “the same thing to say to [Kelly] that I say about the president’s spray tan: too little, too late”.

And in one of the “strangest, dumbest things about Trump yet”, a new book called Sinking in the Swamp claims Trump was obsessed with badgers, the state animal of Priebus’s native Wisconsin, and frequently pestered Priebus with questions about them, such as: are they mean to people? How do they work? How aggressive do they get?

“So an imbecile president who’s only interested in his own self-preservation is turning the justice department into a political weapon for his own benefit,” Meyers concluded. “Trump keeps digging himself deeper and deeper – like Trump’s great friend, the majestic badger.”