In his interview with Bill Maher posted this morning, ABC News’ senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper offering a bit of commentary in posing his first question to the former funny man:
So with all the criticism of Rush Limbaugh for his comments about the Georgetown Law student, conservatives claim that there’s a double standard, with President Obama, Democrats and the media far more tolerant of offensive language when wielded by liberal or progressive media figures against conservative women. Is that a fair comparison? You have certainly used offensive words to describe some politicians you don’t like.
A leading journalist (and a good one) in the legacy media addresses an issue long reserved to right-of-center editorial pages and conservative blogs. Bill Maher, perhaps for the first time, has been been forced to defend his mean-spirited anti-Republican rhetoric — for more than just one news cycle. Instead of acknowledging that he may have overstepped the line or apologized (as Rush did) for an error of judgment, he whines that he’s just a comedian, trying to score a few laughs
Hugh Hewitt finds that Maher’s conclusion where the HBO host claims he had defended Rush’s “right to stay on the air” reeks of “self-importance” and “smashes Maher’s ‘comedian’ defense if it had any substance for anyone to begin with. Simple comedians don’t take to the ramparts to defend anything. They tell jokes.”
In playing defense, however, Maher reveals the hypocrisy of his position. Taking note of Maher’s response when “Tapper presses him on the similarities between what he said and what Limbaugh said“, Allahpundit gets at the essence of the matter. Maher, that conservative blogger reports,
. . . distinguishes them by saying, “[H]e went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves” (my italics). That’s the crux of this, as I’ve noted before — that if you back the left’s social agenda, especially on abortion, you’re pro-woman no matter where your rhetoric carries you.
In this case, Hugh quips, “Maher has himself become the joke”, thanks, I would add, in large part, to the ideals of Andrew Breitbart, bringing to light the nasty rhetoric of the American left.
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UPDATE: Writing about the interview, Jacob Sullum takes apart Maher’s attempt to distinguish his slurs from Limbaugh’s:
Fluke made herself a public figure by campaigning for “reproductive justice” at Georgetown and testifying about the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate before members of Congress. That does not mean it’s OK to call her a slut, but neither does Palin’s status as a public figure mean it’s OK to call her a c[***].
And also addresses the failure of the former funnyman to consider the possibility that he may have erred:
Maher seems sincerely oblivious to the fact that “different tastes and different opinions” tend to color people’s views about when sexist epithets are acceptable and when they are so “disgusting” that they are beyond the pale.