Even after moving from Comedy Central to CBS, Stephen Colbert has remained one of late-night’s deftest political commentators. But where Colbert approaches his topics through satire or Hunger Games parody, HBO’s Bill Maher tackles politics head-on. This difference made for an intense interview on Thursday night, when Maher came by The Late Show to talk about recent events involving police, from the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to the shooting of five officers in Dallas. While Colbert tried to remain objective and look at both sides, Maher was unequivocal that police culture needs to change.
“There’s something wrong here that needs to be addressed,” Maher said. “Obviously violence is wrong on both sides, but I’ve been talking about police culture in this country for a long time. Like I say, we all need the police, I think we respect them, but there is something wrong with police culture. I don’t think most policemen are bad people or would do the things we see on tape, but there is that ‘thin blue line’ mentality where they protect their own.”
A defense that comes up often from cops like Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson two years ago, is that they fear for their lives and shoot to protect themselves. According to Maher, that’s understandable, but police also need to remember that they didn’t sign up for an easy job.
“It does have to start with the police stop shooting unarmed black people, and the police stop going for the gun immediately,” Maher said. “Again, it’s a dangerous job. I’m sorry it is, but you volunteered for it. It’s like a proctologist getting to the office and going ‘oh my god i’m looking at a–holes all day.’ Well, when you’re a cop, you’re going to be looking at a–holes all day. That is the job you signed up for. And the first time you’re a little nervous, you can’t just bam-bam-bam so you don’t get hurt.”
Watch the full conversation below.