Bill Maher describes Laura Ingraham as a "deliberately horrible person," but nonetheless came to the conservative commentator's defense Friday night on his HBO show.
Advertisers began fleeing The Ingraham Angle, which airs weeknights at 10 p.m. Eastern on the Fox News Channel, after Ingraham got into a petty and well-publicized social media dispute with a prominent Parkland high school gun control advocate, for which she subsequently apologized. The student, David Hogg, had already tweeted out a list of Ingraham advertisers, however, and the rest is history.
Real Time host Maher, a well-known liberal, praised the Parkland students for their activism following the mass shooting but suggested that an advertiser boycott could constitute an end-run around freedom of speech
"[Maher] doesn't believe she should be a victim of a boycott because she made fun of Parkland shooting survivor-turned-activist David Hogg for being rejected from colleges he wished to attend...Maher said Hogg and his cohorts have entered the public arena and therefore they are fair game," Real Clear Politics reported about the controversy that led to at least 15 advertisers pulling their commercials from Ingraham's broadcast.
Maher explained his reasoning to a predictably disagreeing panel and audience.
"Maybe you shouldn't stay that about a 17-year-old, but again, he is in the arena. And then he calls for a boycott of her sponsors. Now, really, is that American? And he complains about bullying? That's bullying! I have been the victim of a boycott...I lost a job once. It is wrong. You shouldn't do this by team, you should do it by principle...effectively it is the modern way of cutting off free speech…it is a very chilling atmosphere when this happens…it could happen to any of you."
On her syndicated radio show this morning, single mother of three Laura Ingraham insisted that the week-long absence from her Fox News platform was the result of a pre-planned Easter week vacation. She also implied that the pressure brought to bear on advertisers was orchestrated by operatives funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. Ingraham also mentioned that a counter-boycott has emerged.
Bill Maher and Ingraham often sparred on his ABC show Politically Incorrect until it was canceled following his controversial comments after the 9/11 attacks, as alluded to above.
"Despite his far-left views, Maher is still one of the most consistent free speech advocates, certainly among liberals," the Federalist noted.
For example, Maher has defended Ann Coulter's right to speak at the University of California at Berkeley, even though he disagrees with her views.
Bill Maher is perhaps President Donald Trump's fiercest critic in the media. But in January, he admitted that he agreed with the president's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and authorizing the transfer of the U.S. embassy to that holy city from Tel Aviv.
One advertiser that is sticking with Laura Ingraham and Fox News in general is MyPillow, which is owned by popular pitchman Mike Lindell. In backing Laura Ingraham, Fox News itself announced in a statement that it "will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts." Ingraham returns to the FNC Washington, D.C., studio tonight.
Watch Bill Maher discuss the Laura Ingraham advertiser boycott in the clip below and draw your own conclusions.