When Bill Maher began his weekly television show on ABC, ‘Politically Correct,’ in 1993, I became a fan. His show revealed the hypocrisy by those who believed that Americans must analyze every spoken word, fearful of offending individuals or specific groups of individuals. I laughed and cheered.
‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ became an even more entertaining television event; at least in the beginning. Maher has become too egocentric, and far too wealthy and distant from the average man. I continue to watch the show, but now I do so because of his guests.
His irritating opinions are all too biased. He fails to accept views opposed to his own.
On one show, he criticized the Pope and his American representatives for censuring free speech. He was on the money with his remarks; but then he became a big jerk. He cried foul when liberals label people as racists and bigots, and labeled the religion of Islam as ‘uniquely violent.’ He failed to do his research, again. If he is allowed to identify individuals or groups as he believes, others must be allowed to do the same. And all religions have violent backgrounds which were led by a few; not the majority.
Maher rightly defended Bill Cosby’s accusers, noting that there was no personal gain for most of the women when they described the sexual abuse they suffered from the entertainer. If he would have stopped at that point, he would have been credible. However, he failed to admit his frequent misogynistic remarks, defended Woody Allen when he was accused of sexual misconduct, and once tweeted an insulting remark about women regarding domestic violence.
In another moment of conflict, Maher defended the right of women to control their own bodies. Then later in ‘new rules’ he denounced the right of women to breast feed in public; he claimed that breasts were intended to arouse and should not be exposed in public.
When the 2014 elections approached Maher denounced Republicans for pandering conservative voters; they made the election about President Obama and not qualified candidates or the issues. Later he pandered to conservatives himself. He exaggerated the fear of Ebola, ignoring the science he claims to support. And, once again, he continued to denounce all Muslims.
Last night’s show was more of the same. He once again denounced followers of the Islamic faith. His most egregious act was in his monologue. Newsman Brian Williams is under fire for an errant remark he made on his nightly broadcast last week. He didn’t have all the facts as he was humorously critical of the usually credible reporter. Maher suggested that the incident involved in 2003 was incorrectly reported from the beginning. Williams’ initial report from Iraq was factual, describing the lead helicopter in the group being hit by a rocket propelled grenade. His errant statement last week told of the helicopter in which he was a passenger as the one attacked from opposing ground forces.
Maher has the right to his opinions, and I have the right to agree or disagree with him; and I do. My complaint is that he has an obligation to be fair, and he must have all the facts before he tells tales on a national television show.
I will likely continue to watch his show, I do enjoy the guests, whether or not I agree with them. They give me an opportunity to vent.
Commentary by James Turnage