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Bill Maher was castigated by liberals when he announced that he would host Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right troll known for spreading hate speech, on his HBO show. Critics who watched the Friday night episode found Maher a little too friendly with the Breitbart editor, who was allowed to spew his toxic trash against minorities and women; Maher topped off his kid-glove treatment of Yiannopoulos by calling him a "fag" on national TV.
Now that a tape has emerged of Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, he's been forced to leave his position at Breitbart, lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, and saw his invitation to headline the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded. Maher is claiming the troll's swift downfall is all because he hosted him on his show. Not quite.
When Yiannopoulos was first booked on Maher's show, Intercept journalist Jeremy Scahill, who was also scheduled to appear on the same episode, withdrew himself from the program, citing that there is no reason to give Yiannopoulos more attention. Maher responded to Scahill's rejection and said, "If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims -- and he might be -- nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night." He wasn't exposed; he was celebrated.
As shameful as Maher's behavior was on Friday night, his reaction to what came after is even worse.
Maher spoke toThe New York Times on Wednesday about Milo's very bad week, saying, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant. You're welcome." A reporter then asked him if he thought it was Yiannopoulos's appearance on his show that ended his career, and he said, "That's what I'm saying."
When Yiannopoulos appeared on his show, Maher didn't correct him when said transgender people have a "psychiatric disorder" and he agreed with the former Breitbart editor when he said he was frightened for children to be in the same restroom as transgender people. Ironic.
When asked about this by the Times, Maher defended his position. "When I say, 'That's not unreasonable' [to not want to share a bathroom with a transgender person] it's because women have said that to me: 'I want to know,' or 'I'm not comfortable with someone in the bathroom, even if they, in their minds, have decided they are a woman.' Doesn't that opinion count at all?" Maher told the Times.
"I like people who push the limits. I like people who are not afraid to take the slings and arrows, because they're going to explore what's on the edge. Now, is this guy over the edge? Yes. I mean, he's a little cuckoo. But I would rather err on that side than on the side where everybody else is," Maher told the paper.
Yiannopoulos also made "jokes" about gay people on the show, saying he never hires them because they're always on drugs and thus late to work. Maher told Yiannopoulos that he couldn't understand why liberals got so worked up about him because he is just a "little, British, impish fag." Like most LGBT Americans, we missed the memo where it became ok for straight people to casually use gay slurs.
Maher continued to defend his actions, saying, "No matter what I did, it was never going to be enough for that slice of liberalism that would much rather judge a friend than engage an enemy, because it's easier."
But Maher didn't actually engage Yiannopoulos; he laughed with him, joked that trans people are "weirdos," and even called Yiannopoulos a "young, gay, alive Christopher Hitchens (the legendary British writer and wit)." None of that is commendable.
The truth is Maher did nothing to bring about Yiannopoulos's downfall, except maybe piss someone off enough to release the pedophilia tape. That was not Maher's intention, regardless of what he says now to justify his decision to book him and then play footsy with the racist woman-hater for 60 minutes.