Folks, as we’ve said here many times—a broken clock is right twice a day. On the Left, they’re wrong on a host of issues, but every now and then there is one view where common ground is found—at least nowadays that seems to be the case. On Friday’s episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the liberal host decided to take some time to defend someone with whom he is dietetically opposed: Laura Ingraham. Ingraham has been on a weeklong vacation after anti-gun activist David Hogg decided to launch a boycott crusade against her. Scores of companies, like Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, TripAdviser, and Expedia, have decided to cut ties with the show. Maher is a free speech supporter. He’s sick of political correctness. And he views boycotts as a way to chill free speech. He should know; Maher’s been a victim of one. Of course, his panel—Eliot Spitzer, Max Boot, and Heather McGhee—disagreed. Ingraham made fun of Hogg for not being accepted into college for the coming fall term. Maybe not the best thing to say to a teenager Maher admits, but does that warrant a boycott? Also, the HBO host noted this is what’s going to happen when you step into the arena (via RCP):
"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?" Maher asked.
"Effectively, it is the modern way of cutting off free speech," Maher said.
The HBO host said while Ingraham is a "deliberately terrible person" who has a history of saying "horrible things," she shouldn't be a victim of a boycott. Maher faced heat from his panel, notably disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who said it is free speech for the Parkland teens to call for a boycott. Maher, who has been a victim of boycotts himself, called it a "chilling atmosphere."
Spitzer said the boycott is about the "right to speak back." Maher argued speaking back is different than a boycott.
"He complains about bullying?" an incredulous Maher asked. "That's bullying! I have been the victim of a boycott of sponsors. I lost a job once. It is wrong. You shouldn't do this by team, you should do it by principle."
The rest of the panel noted the sponsor’s right not to underwrite speech they think is terrible, noting Ingraham’s show, but you’d have to live under a rock to not know that Laura is conservative. Will these sponsors come back? They should—Fox News caters to millions of people. The bottom line every quarter is what counts, especially to the shareholders. To not advertise on a network because a host said something that was PG-13-rated in terms of mocking is just absurd. Also, TripAdviser, Johnson & Johnson, you guys sells travel/booking advice and a host of consumer-based products. Stick to that instead of going down the rabbit hole of politics, especially gun control politics.
And yes, Maher is right; it’s a way to undercut free speech. Just like liberals pushing for magazine limits and financial institutions freezing credit access to clients who are in the firearm business amounts to nothing more than a backdoor ban.