New CNN Host 'Uncomfortable' With U.S. Gun Culture, Thinks Bloomberg's a 'Right-Winger'

Meet your new late-night CNN host George Stroumboulopoulos, who feels the Toronto Mayor's alleged use of a gay slur was worse than if he had a crack addiction, and thinks New York City Mayor Bloomberg is a "right-winger" whose soda ban revealed that his "heart's in the right place" and whose support for "marriage equality" was "fantastic."

Stroumboulopoulos, currently a nightly CBC television host, will host a weekly talk show debuting on Sunday night June 9 and airing on Friday nights at 11 p.m. ET. CNN announced his show would focus on a variety of issues from sports to pop culture to politics. In an interview with HuffPost Live published on June 3rd, he revealed his beliefs on multiple issues including legalization of pot, guns, gay marriage, and current politicians.

Regarding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's alleged use of crack cocaine, Stromboulopoulos thinks that's not the worst part of the evidence on tape. A mayor can still serve while overcoming an addiction, but he can't if he drops a homophobic slur:

"What was more concerning to me in the tape – it's hard to say more concerning than the allegations of crack – but in the same allegations were that he hurled a homophobic slur at a leader of a federal party. You shouldn't do that to anybody, right? So can somebody who's an addict be fit to serve? Of course. Of course, because with proper help and growth, of course somebody who has an addiction can be fit to serve office. Can somebody who hurls homophobic slurs, are they fit to serve? No. That's the more concerning part of it."

Piers Morgan may not be the only international CNN host anymore who thinks America has a gun problem:

"But it's a country built on liberty. And guns is part of the Constitution, and no one is willing to have that tough conversation with Congress and Senate and the President to say maybe that's got to change. Maybe people talk about it, but I mean actual change."

The CBC host is "uncomfortable" with America's easy access to guns:

"Look at how many guns are around. Look how easy it is to get a gun. You can go to a department store and get a gun in this country. That makes me uncomfortable, because I grew up in a city where if you have a gun, you're going to jail. We don't have the same culture of guns. We don't have John Waynes, dude. Hollywood has perpetuated this thing, and a lot of people in Hollywood go on and on about how they hate guns, but they're the ones that make these movies that have sensationalized violence for so long. What did they think was going to happen?"

Meanwhile, back to mayors, apparently New York City's Michael Bloomberg is a "right-winger":

"He's a bit nanny-statey. Which I think is really an interesting choice for a U.S. politician, especially for a right-winger. But all his nanny-state stuff is actually in a weird way to benefit the people."

However, Bloomberg's heart is in the right place:

"His heart's in the right place. Because he's actually really smart enough to understand that ultimately, you guys, the people, have to foot the bill in some way for health care, insurance costs, all that stuff. So he's at least trying to address the root of the problem. I'm fascinated how people are like 'Give me liberty or death!' Well actually sometimes liberty gives you death. So I'm fascinated by the reaction that he gets."

And Bloomberg's support for same-sex marriage was "fantastic":

"[H]e took the amazing position on same-sex marriage, on marriage equality – which was, I believe, the right position – and I loved his impassioned plea saying Republicans should be, and conservatives should be in favor of marriage equality. I thought that was fantastic."

And regarding drugs, Stroumboulopoulos thinks pot should at least be decriminalized and everyone jailed on a weed charge let free:

"If you're going to legalize it, that's fine, but then you've got to go into jail and got to get everyone who's in there on a weed charge and you've got to get them out....You need to let people out on the weed charge. I think – yeah. Yeah, I think it's a mistake to throw people in jail for rolling a joint. You've got to tackle traffickers. That's the biggest issue, right?"

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on HuffPost Live:

JACOB SOBOROFF, HuffPost Live: You had – I was watching – you had my boss – you had Arianna on.

GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS: She's been on a couple of times, yeah.

SOBOROFF: I enjoyed those interviews. One of them you were talking about whether or not she thinks there'll be an atheist president of the United States ever, or if the U.S. is ready for an atheist president of the United States. You think the U.S. is ready?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I think they've had 'em already. I think they've had 'em already. It's a question of whether or not they've had an open one, right? Yeah of course, I think so. I think that we live in an era, Canada and America, maybe the UK to a degree as well, where it's the partisan era, and that's kind of the least interesting era. What we hope for is some version of enlightenment where people will try to get along. I think – absolutely. I'm sure there's lots. I think this guy here – your current President – I don't hear him be overt about it. You know, so it's not like he's campaigning on the religious ticket.

SOBOROFF: But he sure pulls it out, though, when he needs to on the campaign.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Which says a lot about where any country is. Right? Americans can ask for a religious president, if that's who they feel represents them. It is what you want, but I do think that they've had – I'm sure we have atheist leaders in Canada all the time. They just don't talk about it that much.

(...)

SOBOROFF: What is going on up in Canada? I wanted to ask you about this. Rob Ford, your mayor up there. Did he smoke crack? Did he not smoke crack? What is happening up in Toronto?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Listen, homs, I wasn't in the room. I haven't seen the tape, so I can't comment. But what I'll say this, is that the newspaper and the journalists in question – pretty reputable. Like, solid journalists.

SOBOROFF: At this Toronto Star. And then Gawker as well.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I think the Gawker – I think that whole Gawker story was a bit weird but the – if he did – if he did, like I thought, if he did, if he has a problem, it's not funny. If he has a problem, he should get help. That is the truth. What was more concerning to me in the tape – it's hard to say more concerning than the allegations of crack – but in the same allegations were that he hurled a homophobic slur at a leader of a federal party. You shouldn't do that to anybody, right? So can somebody who's an addict be fit to serve? Of course. Of course, because with proper help and growth, of course somebody who has an addiction can be fit to serve office. Can somebody who hurls homophobic slurs, are they fit to serve? No. That's the more concerning part of it.

In other words, that he may or may not have used in that tape. So both people who live in Toronto, we're not embarrassed by the mayor because we don't hold politicians as somebody that we aspire to be any more, but it is kind of – it's shameful that this is the fourth largest city on the continent, that's a really good city, with so much wonderful stuff going on it, and the thing that dominates the news is a guy who has done himself no favors by not being the most empathetic and passionate human being on the planet.  

SOBOROFF: So what do you think of a guy who said if you throw homophobic slurs, you've got to be out. What do you think about Roy Hibbert and the Pacers, what he said over the weekend?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yeah, that's a thing, right?

SOBOROFF: Should he be suspended?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes! I'm astonished the NBA didn't suspend him. Listen, I can't stand the Miami Heat. I don't want the Heat to win, so that would break my heart. I think you need to send a message that you are a league that represents equality for everybody on every turn, and you don't have – okay, here's the thing, dude. It is the equivalent of a racial slur if – can you imagine if the equivalent of a racial slur thrown in a press conference?

SOBOROFF: Of course not.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Dude is out.

(...)

SOBOROFF: What about the guns? So Michael Moore famously goes to Canada in "Bowling for Columbine." He's knocking on people's doors, people are leaving their doors open. Here's a stat from Huff Post, Joe van Bruss pointed out here on Huff Post. Adjusting for population, U.S. death rate by firearms, 10.2 per 100,000, in the U.S. 2.5 per 100,000 in Canada. What are we doing wrong here in the states?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Look, as an outsider, I won't sit here and tell you you're doing anything wrong. You do whatever you guys want.

SOBOROFF: But clearly – but clearly, per capita, we have way more gun deaths than you guys do up there.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's the gun lobby. It's – this is a county built on liberty, right? And everything is about selling liberty, whether or not it's actually there. Whether or not the corporations are in charge, all that other stuff, that's a different conversation. But it's a country built on liberty. And guns is part of the Constitution, and no one is willing to have that tough conversation with Congress and Senate and the President to say maybe that's got to change. Maybe people talk about it, but I mean actual change. This is not a country built on that. The Constitution is the Constitution.

Does it have an impact on the people? Look. Look at how many guns are around. Look how easy it is to get a gun. You can go to a department store and get a gun in this country. That makes me uncomfortable, because I grew up in a city where if you have a gun, you're going to jail. We don't have the same culture of guns. We don't have John Wayne's, dude. Hollywood has perpetuated this thing, and a lot of people in Hollywood go on and on about how they hate guns, but they're the ones that make these movies that have sensationalized violence for so long. What did they think was going to happen?

SOBOROFF: What do people up there, who you talk to, your friends, people who come on your show. They look at the United States and they see a level of gun violence down here. What's people's perception looking south?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I think there's a lot of fear. I think there's a lot of – there's a lot of reflection now. People who used to be – I talk to Steve Earle, one of the great – the hardcore troubadour, right? One of the great songwriters this country's ever produced. And he was a gun guy. He's not a gun guy anymore. He looked around and said maybe we need to make tough choices – you can see a change. There's definitely a shift, and – but the thing about guns is gun aren't – it's not just guns, right? As you know, guns connected to mental illness, connected to education, connected to law enforcement, connected to socioeconomic equality. It's not just guns. There's so much that contributes to violence, all this other stuff, that people need to address.

(...)

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I think that the President is an intellectual, and the President is possibly the smartest guy in the room when he is in the room. That's a good thing. You actually want your leader of your country to be the smartest person in the room. And that's helpful.

(...)

SOBOROFF: What about the next president of the United States of America. You've interviewed Hillary Clinton amongst many, many other people. You think she'll be the next president?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Oh dude, I don't know how you guys go. I think Hillary Clinton would be the smartest person in the room, she would be the most experienced person in the room, she would be somebody that nobody could push around, she would be somebody that could set the tone for compromise, not have it set for her. So I do think that Hillary Clinton, the Senator has all kinds of things in her favor. I don't know who they're going to run against, I don't know what backbiting internal politics, what hate campaigns will be set on –

SOBOROFF: I think it's hers to lose. If she's going to go and do it, chooses to do it, I certainly think it's hers to lose.

(...)

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: He's a bit nanny-statey. Which I think is really an interesting choice for a U.S. politician, especially for a right-winger. But all his nanny-state stuff is actually in a weird way to benefit the people.

SOBOROFF: Even the soda ban? I mean you think –

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: His heart's in the right place. Because he's actually really smart enough to understand that ultimately, you guys, the people, have to foot the bill in some way for health care, insurance costs, all that stuff. So he's at least trying to address the root of the problem. I'm fascinated how people are like "Give me liberty or death!" Well actually sometimes liberty gives you death. So I'm fascinated by the reaction that he gets. So at least he's like – things like the Patriot Act, those are nanny state things.

SOBOROFF: What about all the CC TV? All the closed-circuit TV and stuff like that in New York?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Dude, I'm wildly uncomfortable with that stuff, man. So that's nanny state stuff that's bad for the people. And it's under the auspices of homeland security, which is true sometimes and not true other times. That's why they would go after animal rights organizations, claiming it was the Patriot Act when they sold America that it was on terrorism, right? So that kind of stuff is more shadowy. The soda ban isn't really shadowy. At least Bloomberg –

SOBOROFF: It's pretty out in the open. What he wants to do.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yeah. Plus he took the amazing position on same-sex marriage, on marriage equality – which was, I believe, the right position – and I loved his impassioned plea saying Republicans should be, and conservatives should be in favor of marriage equality. I thought that was fantastic.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014