Maher jokes that China doesn’t need a balloon to spy on America: ‘That’s what TikTok is for’

Americans are transfixed by the strange presence of a Chinese spy balloon over the continental United States, a troubling and provocative action by the communist country that has paralyzed the Biden administration over what many see as a grave threat to national security. But comedian Bill Maher sought to make light of the unprecedented situation.

On Friday’s edition of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the liberal late-night host joked about the intrusion into American airspace by suggesting that China doesn’t need to use a balloon to conduct its surveillance because it can more easily do so through the popular but highly controversial TikTok social media app.

“You know what people are freaking out about this week?” Maher asked his audience. “There’s a balloon… a Chinese spy balloon over Montana, oh my God.. now they know where we keep the cows.”

“And the Chinese of course are denying it,” he continued. “They say it’s innocent, it’s a weather balloon, they said they would never use a spy balloon to infiltrate America.”

“That’s what TikTok is for,” he said, delivering the punchline to uproarious laughter from the crowd.

The addicting app designed by the Chinese company ByteDance – which is especially popular with young people – has come under criticism out of security concerns with lawmakers calling for it to be banned domestically, with TikTok having already been banned on federally owned devices used by government workers as GOP lawmakers are working to outlaw it entirely.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to hold a vote this month on whether it should be blocked in the United States with committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who chairs the powerful committee, telling Bloomberg that “The concern is that this app gives the Chinese government a back door into our phones.”

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced that he would be introducing legislation to ban the app.

“@tiktok_us is China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health. Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide,” Hawley wrote on Twitter last month.

“The Communist Party of China has the ability & intent to use @tiktok_us to influence, mislead & harm America,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio, another TikTok critic. “That is why you see growing bipartisan support to ban it.”

Scott Adams, the creator of the popular Dilbert comic strip predicted that the Chinese spy balloon would be the final straw for banning the app domestically.

“The Chinese spy balloon incursion guarantees Congress will ban #TikTok in America,” Adams said.  “Sometimes a threat needs to be visual before it is taken seriously. Pundits are already conflating TikTok with the spy balloon. By next week they will be the same story.”

Also on Friday’s show, Maher returned to the topic of China, likening the “woke” left to the notorious Red Guard, the revolutionary youth movement mobilized by Chairman Mao to conduct a reign of terror during the communist country’s cultural revolution in the 1960s.

“Yesterday, I asked ChatGPT, are there any similarities between today’s woke revolution and Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s? And it wrote back, how long do you have?” Maher said. “Because, again, in China, we saw how a revolutionary thought he could do a page-one rewrite of humans. Mao ordered his citizens to throw off the four olds: old thinking, old culture, old customs, and old habits. So, your whole life went in the garbage overnight, no biggie. And those who resisted were attacked by an army of purifiers called the Red Guard, who went around the country putting dunce caps on people…yeah, who didn’t take to being a new kind of mortal being.”

“A lot of pointing and shaming went on — oh, and about a million dead — and the only way to survive was to plead insanity for the crime of being insufficiently radical, then apologize and thank the state for the chance to see what a piece of sh*t you are, and of course, submit to re-education, or as we call it here in America, freshman orientation,” he joked about a movement that has ominous historic parallels to Mao’s ruthless communist enforcers.

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