Bill Maher is gearing up for what many are expecting to be his most widely viewed episode of Real Time on HBO.
The outspoken liberal comedian and political pundit has courted conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos for weeks now, and it appears the Feb. 17 show will be when the two finally meet.
Maher deciding to have the controversial guest on has ruffled more than a few feathers on the left, and he has since received word from longtime guest and journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept — who was also slated to appear — has withdrawn, stating he would not be a part of something that allowed Yiannopoulos to “spew his hateful diatribes.”
“There is no value in ‘debating’ him,” Scahill wrote on Twitter earlier in the week. “Appearing on Real Time will provide Yiannopoulos with a large, important platform to openly advocate his racist, anti-immigrant campaign.”
— Thomas Pine (@ameripundit) February 17, 2017
Scahill feared that the appearance “could also be used to incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others at a time when the Trump Administration is already seeking to formalize a war against some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
In his concluding remarks, Scahill acknowledged that Bill Maher and Real Time have “the right to book whomever [they want] on its show, including Yiannopoulos. But I cannot participate in an event that will give a platform to such a person.”
Maher has, of course, seen Scahill’s reasoning behind withdrawing from the show, and he is not impressed.
In comments reported by Deadline, Bill commented on the decision by Jeremy Scahill.
“Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech.
“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.”
Supporters of Scahill are divided over whether he should validate Bill Maher with an appearance.
While the journalist’s Twitter followers are in pretty much lockstep agreement that Milo Yiannopoulos is a bane to political discourse, they are divided on whether Maher is an asset or a liability to the liberal cause.
On the original post from Jeremy Scahill explaining why he is withdrawing from the show — which has garnered over 30,000 likes and 11,000 retweets at the time of this post — there are some claiming that Bill Maher is “just as bad” as Milo for his views on Muslims.
Why I will not appear this week on Real Time with Bill Maher. pic.twitter.com/SOoE3udrDr
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) February 15, 2017
Maher has aligned with liberal author and atheist Sam Harris in claiming that Islam is “the motherlode of bad ideas.” Harris made that claim on the now famous episode of the Bill Maher show in which the pair were called “Islamophobic” by actor Ben Affleck.
Maher has personally decried the religion for its views on women, homosexuality, and apostasy, and has also offered that it, unlike other religions, is the “only one that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing.”
Whatever differences that Maher will discuss with Milo on Friday night, the two have found common ground in their assessments of the recent UC-Berkeley riots that got a Yiannopoulos speaking engagement canceled.
“I’ve been a longtime critic of colleges shutting people up. Free speech should be something we own. (Yiannopoulos is) a provocateur. He’s been thrown off Twitter — that’s how bad he is,” Maher said in comments reported by the Washington Times.
As for the rest of the Friday night episode, Bill Maher will welcome Leah Remini, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston, and liberal writer, comedian, and former Comedy Central talk show host Larry Wilmore.
[Featured Image by HBO]