Many seasoned politicians — including former presidents like Barack Obama — along with authors, entertainers and journalists have sat face-to-face with TV host and comedian Bill Maher for his HBO show, "Real Time With Bill Maher."
Some rocked. Some rolled.
But Cameron Kasky and David Hogg, two teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, survivors of the Parkland shootings a little over two weeks ago, held their own with Maher on his program Friday night.
As in previous forums they have appeared on since the massacre, the two Floridians were composed, articulate and media savvy — at several points Kasky even had Maher, the experienced comic, laughing during the 10-minute segment.
"I honestly thought kids were a lot stupider," Maher told Hogg and his classmate Kasky — co-founders of the student advocacy group #NeverAgainMSD and two of the organizers of nationwide marches and the March for Our Lives rally planned for March 24 in Washington.
"You’ve really given me faith that the kids today are actually very bright, way brighter than we were," said Maher, who has often joked that he is happy that he has never had children.
Among the highlights: Hogg, 17, told Maher’s live audience that he hung up on the White House last week. He was offended that President Donald Trump refused to attend CNN’s town hall meeting with survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that left 14 fellow students and three faculty members dead.
"We don’t need to listen to President Trump, Present Trump needs to listen to to the screams of the children and screams of this nation," Hogg said.
"We want Americans to stop being afraid of demanding our politicians to take action. They work for us, we don't work for them. The #MarchForOurLives is us coming out and saying to our employees, you guys suck at your job." – @cameron_kasky #NeverAgainMSD pic.twitter.com/e5CjHGIrlH— Real Time (@RealTimers) March 3, 2018
"We want Americans to stop being afraid of demanding our politicians to take action. They work for us, we don’t work for them. The March for Our Lives is us coming out and saying to our employees, ‘You guys suck at your job,’" Kasky blasted.
Maher, who joked that these kids probably don’t need to follow high school with college, said of their role in driving discussion on the U.S. gun reform debate, "We have never seen change like this."
Hogg’s father is a former FBI agent and Kasky’s dad is a reserve police officer and their parents own guns. Neither shot down the Second Amendment as Maher prodded them to do. But they did call for sane laws that don’t put AR-15 assault weapons in the hands of people for routine use, such as protection against "robbers" or "bears," or mentally unstable individuals.
Kasky, 17, even got in a dig at conspiracy theorists, conservative pundits and the political right who have blasted the Parkland student activists by calling them crisis actors. "I am an actor, actually," Kasky told the national TV audience and snuck in a plug for his current role. "I’m in ‘Spring Awakening’ at Parkland Performing Arts Center. Great show."
Don’t think these students have the gravitas to become spokesman on the international stage? "We’ve seen our friends text their parents goodbye," Kasky said. "We are the experts."
Maher noted that they couldn’t have even been politically aware of previous presidential administrations such as George W. Bush’s in the 2000s or Bill Clinton’s in the 1990s, before Hogg and Kasky were born. Then he drew this out of Kasky:
"I mean this sincerely, I really do, to all the generations before us we sincerely accept your apology," the teen said. "We appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you f---ed up."