Friday’s Real Time was guaranteed to be controversial after Bill Maher announced that he would have Milo Yiannopoulos on as a guest during a prior controversial episode with Tomi Lahren on his panel. The discussion ramped up this week, with many questioning the decision and scheduled panel member Jeremy Scahill pulling out of the show in protest. Maher defended himself against Scahill’s comments, saying “nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having [Yiannopoulos] exposed” on his show.
The consensus according to outlets like The New York Times and The Daily Beast is that Maher’s interview with the self-described “virtuous troll” was “a largely docile, chummy affair” and that the host “took the bait” he lectured liberals about at the end of the interview. The same cannot be said about the “Overtime” segment and Larry Wilmore. The former Nightly Show host did not hesitate to take on Yiannopoulos on many of the points that were brought up in the panel and during the Maher interview.
Wilmore hit back at Milo’s false claims that transgender people were “vastly disproportionately involved in sex crime” — part of a conversation on Yiannopoulos’ comments towards a transgender student at University of Wisconsin — and then proceeded to tell him, “go f*ck yourself,” after Yiannopoulos made remarks against Leslie Jones in his interview and criticized guest Malcolm Nance. Wilmore took on Yiannopoulos in the way that many likely expected Maher to do, but only one of the interactions aired live on HBO.
Some of the criticism against Maher likely stems from the decision to have Yiannopoulos on the show at all. But some, like Marlow Stern at The Daily Beast, called out the host for not pressing or questioning Milo on many of his comments. This includes the series of events surrounding the Ghostbusters film and Leslie Jones:
Towards the end of their discussion—which played more like a back-slapping session—Maher finally almost pressed Yiannopoulos, saying: “The one area where I’m a little concerned is where you go after people individually. Like I said, if it’s in the cause of a greater truth, if people are hurt as collateral damage, I’ll go there. But, like, I didn’t understand the Ghostbusters thing. First of all, who gives a f*ck about Ghostbusters?” He was talking about Yiannopoulos siccing his online troll army on Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, who was subsequently sent a rash of racist memes and ultimately hacked, with her perpetrators posting stolen naked photos of Jones on her personal website.
Maher, once again, refused to challenge Yiannopoulos’s far-fetched claims that he merely “wrote a bad review of a movie” and “said she looked like a dude” and “said she’s barely literate.” Later on, Maher said to Yiannopoulos, “Some people would say you have incited [violence],” and when his guest responded with “Well, they would be idiots,” he was met with more silence.
Milo played up his status as a troll during the entire appearance, never hesitating to say he “hurts people for a reason” and chiding the audience for being “very easily triggered.” To that end, you could agree with Maher when he says “Stop taking the bait, liberals.” Don’t let this man who promises to be “as offensive as possible” rile you up because that’s what he wants. But it also adds weight to what Jeremy Scahill wrote in his statement, saying “there is no value in ‘debating’ him.” If someone lives in a “post-fact world” unless the facts support their narrative, how can you have a debate?
There could be some value, though. Being offensive at every turn does earn you television interviews and a six-figure book deal. It also apparently earns you comparisons to Christopher Hitchens while getting a pat on the back from Bill Maher.
(Via Real Time)