The Time John Oliver Took On Bloomberg’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy on ‘The Daily Show’ (Video)

Policy under scrutiny again now that Bloomberg aims to become the Democratic presidential nominee

Last Updated: February 21, 2020 @ 6:10 AM

Michael Bloomberg faced heavy criticism during Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate over the stop-and-frisk policy that defined policing during his three terms as mayor of New York City. Bloomberg has attempted to distance himself from the policy and downplay his support for it, but courtesy of “The Daily Show” comes an interesting time capsule showing just how he talked about it at the time.

Watch the clip above. (Via Travon Free.)

Defenders said the policy, in which officers temporarily detain, question, and “frisk” people suspected of engaging in criminal activity, contributed to a reduction in crime. However, the majority of detainees were innocent young black and Latinx men, and almost no crimes were ever discovered. Which is why stop-and-frisk has long been described as racist, and as contributing to a climate of fear and persecution among nonwhite New Yorkers.

During the Democratic debate, Bloomberg said that he considered the policy “embarrassing,” and claimed that once he realized “it got out of control” he reduced it by 95%. In fact, that drop only occurred after a judge ruled in 2013 that stop-and-frisk was deployed unconstitutionally and ordered the city to stop until it could articulate a clear, racially unbiased version of it. Bloomberg also angrily denounced the ruling at the time and consistently defended stop-and-frisk for years, until just before he announced his intention to enter the Democratic primary.

Which brings us to “The Daily Show, and an August, 2013 episode hosted by John Oliver. (Oliver filled in as host for two months while Jon Stewart directed a movie, AKA the reason Oliver now hosts his own HBO show). In a very funny segment called “Frisky Business,” Oliver broke down the debate over the policy, including the then-recent ruling against Bloomberg’s administration, and Bloomberg’s public statements at the time.

Joking “I don’t mean to suggest that it’s only used against the city’s minorities, but it is almost that,” Oliver noted how more than 80% of people stopped by police were Black or Hispanic, but less than 6% of all stops resulted in arrests.

“It’s basically like catch and release fishing, except you get to feel the fish up and shout at it a bit before throwing it back,” Oliver said. “Also, almost all the fish are brown.”

Oliver then got to the court ruling. The presiding judge, he noted, didn’t actually order the policy to stop outright, but said it can’t continue unless NYPD submitted to federal monitoring, body cameras, and other measures to allow courts to assess how it works.

Oliver also showed footage of one of Bloomberg’s angry responses to the ruling, a press conference in which he complained that the city didn’t get a fair trial.

“Hold on, let me get this straight,” Oliver joked. “You think this program is being unfairly stopped and scrutinized even though it’s done nothing wrong. I think I know millions of Blacks and Latinos in this city who know exactly how you feel.”

There’s plenty more, including a funny digression to talk about disgraced NYC politician Anthony Weiner, and as we said, you can watch it above.

Meanwhile, the judge who ruled that stop-and-frisk was conducted unconstitutionally appeared Thursday night on “The Beat With Ari Mebler,” where she declared that Bloomberg’s statements about the policy during the debate were false. Watch below:

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