Cable talk show host Bill Maher is often held up as a bleeding heart liberal, but, in a recent interview, Maher has again reiterated that he sees massive flaws on both sides of the aisle, all leading back to a fact-resistant American populace intellectually wed to “magical thinking.”
Of course, as much can be expected from Bill Maher, the man behind the documentary Religulous, which counted the ways in which religion and its associated bailout mentality has harmed humanity. But, while conservatives may see Maher as an idealogue, the man himself doesn’t entirely caucus with liberals as a rule.
Maher is currently on hiatus before Real Time With Bill Maher picks up again in the fall, and, in his fallow periods, he has a bit more time to do other shows and sit down with interviewers to do what he does best: talk politics. And in a recent interview, Maher blasted both sides of the political spectrum in the US for a lack of involvement and knowledge about our political process.
Maher does a bit on his show about the “conservative bubble,” an ongoing gag implying Republican voters get their information, by and large, from spurious and fact-resistant sources that arrange information to reach a foregone conclusion. But Maher admits it’s not just GOP adherents and tea partiers that fall prey to single-minded news and say liberals have a bubble of their own, one in which he often finds himself dwelling:
“I talk a lot about the conservative bubble, but there’s a liberal bubble, too. I mean, nobody I know watches “NCIS” or “CSI,” and those are the biggest shows on television. That’s a liberal bubble, and we all have to fight to get out of our bubble.”
Maher blames a lot of the divide in the US right now on the internet, and, despite a close friendship with blogging magnate Arianna Huffington, he has been a frequent critic on how new media shapes our news cycle in a way that is not always positive. On bubbles and the internet, Maher opines:
“I think people generally with the Internet can sort of coagulate into their own tribes and form a clot… I don’t mind if someone has genuine ideological differences. But I do take offense when people have their own set of facts. I’m not the only one to point this out, but it is amazing the way the Republicans can run against a completely fictional Barack Obama.”
“I saw it on the news just yesterday, something like half the country –– and I don’t mean just Republicans –– half of everybody thinks he’s a Muslim. Forty-nine percent say he’s a Christian. Now this is not something that’s really in dispute. You can easily look this up. And yet they are stubbornly ignorant, they refuse to let any air into that bubble.”
Indeed, the situation encapsulating two Americas seems to have worsened significantly since we all stopped watching the same news, and the liberal-leaning Libertarian Maher says that, even with his lefty viewpoints, he can become tired of the dichotomy as well. He talks about how for a long time, Fox News was the only player in the partisan ballgame and that he is glad MSNBC “emerged as a counterweight” to balance the propaganda — but it still can be a bit overwhelming:
“I’m glad MSNBC emerged as a counterweight. As much as I’m very fond of all of the people at MSNBC, Chris Matthews and Rachel (Maddow) and Lawrence O’Donnell, they’re all good people. But if I watch it, like, for a whole day, I want to marry Ann Coulter and join the tea party.”
It seems that Maher has a true if cynical point — and much of America won’t be able to move forward so long as there is infighting about blocking progress entirely from the other side. Do you think that America has a hope of moving forward from our current partisan political quagmire, or will Bill Maher’s observations become more pronounced traits in our political landscape?