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In the past few days, Milo Yiannopoulos, whose appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher garnered controversy and led one of Maher’s panelists to drop out, was removed as a speaker from CPAC, lost his major book deal, and resigned from his position at Breitbart. While it was ultimately a group of conservatives who posted the video of Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, Maher is taking credit for his part in his downfall.
In an interview with the New York Times about Yiannopoulos’ appearance and the ultimate fallout from it, Maher believes that having him on Real Time kicked off the wave of events, although that wasn’t his intent.
“What I think people saw was an emotionally needy Ann Coulter wannabe, trying to make a buck off of the left’s propensity for outrage,” Maher told the New York Times Tuesday night. “And by the end of the weekend, by dinnertime Monday, he’s dropped as a speaker at CPAC. Then he’s dropped by Breitbart, and his book deal falls through. As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. You’re welcome.”
Maher’s interview with Yiannopoulos was widely criticized for not holding him accountable, particularly with Yiannopoulos’ claim that transgender people have a “psychiatric disorder.” At times, the two even got along. Most of the pushback came later in the show as Yiannopoulos faced Maher’s panel of guests during the “Overtime” segment. In particular Larry Wilmore referenced his earlier comments—along with his role in harassing Leslie Jones off social media—and told Yiannopoulos multiple times to “go fuck yourself.”
Maher, in response to criticism that he didn’t do enough to hold him accountable, replied that it’s “not my job to hold him accountable to everything he’s ever said or done.”
Reagan Battalion, the online group that posted the Yiannopoulos video which led to his downfall, said their motivation for targeting Yiannopoulos was that he “didn’t represent Conservatism.” As for Maher, he’s being mocked online.
Others are highlighting how Maher and Yiannopoulos aren’t so different. The Twitter account @wyatt_privilege has resurfaced video that showed Maher on his previous show, Politically Incorrect, asking “how can a woman rape a man.” He was discussing the story of a 35-year-old female teacher’s relationship with a 14-year-old student with his panel, and he didn’t see it as statutory rape but rather society keeping a family apart because the student and teacher now had two children together.
Maher likewise has a long history of sexist and Islamophobic comments, the latter which Maher has long defended as being “not bigoted.” He doesn’t believe he’s making generalizations about Islam.
He compared singer Zayn Malik to Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, called the U.S. cowards for “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away” while defending the 9/11 attackers for “staying in the airplane,” and believes Islamophobia was “a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.”
His comments on women were the subject of an attack ad by a conservative super PAC, and in 2009 he said in response to a story about Tila Tequila being assaulted by an ex-boyfriend, “the surprise is that someone hasn’t choked this bitch sooner.”
Ben Affleck, who appeared on the show in 2014 in a segment that went instantly viral, called Maher and fellow guest Sam Harris’ comments on Islam “gross and racist.” (Harris, appearing again in February 2017, took shots at Affleck for that quip from more than two years ago.)
On Friday’s episode of Real Time, Yiannopoulos praised Maher’s views on Islam and later explained to the New York Times that the reason he said “that’s not unreasonable” about not wanting to share a bathroom with transgender people is because women have told him that. When pressed further, he said he didn’t believe that transgender people have a psychiatric disorder.
H/T New York Times
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.