Insisting that his own comments on Islam “have never veered into vitriol,” Bill Maher has responded to his protesting (and now former) Real Time guest Jeremy Scahill with a pointed critique of both Scahill and liberalism.
“Liberals will continue to lose elections,” Maher says, “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.”
Maher made his statement during the overnight hours after Scahill canceled his appearance on this Friday’s Real Time With Bill Maher to protest the booking, on the same episode, of right-wing flame-thrower Milo Yiannopoulos.
Scahill, founder of the journalism website The Intercept and a frequent, longstanding Real Time guest, said yesterday that Yiannopoulos’ booking would “be exploited” by the Breitbart News editor “in an attempt to legitimize his hateful agenda.”
In his lengthy protest statement, Scahill also noted that, while “the people at Real Time have become like family to me,” he “passionately disagree(s) with—and find(s) offensive— some of Bill’s views, particularly when his comments on Islam and Muslims veer into vitriol.”
Today Maher fired back. Here’s his full statement:
“My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol. Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill who’s[sic] 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.”
Yiannopoulos is set to appear as the top-of-show guest, a one-on-one segment with Maher, and so won’t share the stage or debate with other guests (Leah Remini, former Republican Congressman Jack Kingston, comedian Larry Wilmore and Scahill’s replacement Malcolm Nance, author of The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election.
An HBO spokesperson told Deadline yesterday that Yiannopoulos would appear in the studio with Maher, and that, “as with other weeks, an appropriate amount of security will be on hand.”
Earlier this month, Yiannopoulos’ planned speech at the UC Berkeley was canceled after protests turned fiery, costly and violent. Along with his anti-Muslim diatribes (“I worry that my Europe — the Europe of Mozart, Wagner, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Locke and Hume — is rapidly disappearing”) and anti-feminist rhetoric, the gay British Yiannopoulos has angered the LGBTQ community and supporters with comments like the ones at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in December: Naming a local transgender university student (her photo was included in the Youtube video of the speech), Yiannopoulos mocked the woman and used an offensive term to describe transgender people.
In his cancelation statement, Scahill said he feared that Yiannopoulos’ appearance on Real Time could “incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others.”
Real Time With Bill Maher airs Friday on HBO at 10 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT.