In an interview conducted by Breuse Hickman of Brevard County, Fla.’s Florida Today newspaper, HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher discounted comparisons between his foul-mouthed comedy routine and the language used by radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Maher, promoting his upcoming appearance in the area, was asked if the same rules apply to Limbaugh that apply to him as a comedian, which in the past Maher has said gives him license to use coarse language when ridiculing public figures.
“I am a comedian because I actually go out and stand in front of an audience for 90 minutes to two hours and make them laugh their guts out,” Maher said. “Rush Limbaugh can’t — and doesn’t — do that, which is what I’m going to do in Melbourne, Fla. (Limbaugh) should quit calling himself a comedian.”
Maher was asked to address the perceived double standard, in that he gets away with attacking women like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whereas Limbaugh is soundly criticized.
According to the HBO host, Palin falls into a different category than self-proclaimed contraception advocate and Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who Limbaugh called “a slut” and “a prostitute.”
“First off, it’s not a double standard,” he said. “It’s false equivalency. Rush Limbaugh was talking about a civilian, a college student, and called her disgusting and vile names. I used a rude word (regarding Palin) that was not on the air. It was only in my comedy routine. It was met with gales of laughter. I trust my audience. It was part of a carefully crafted routine. It’s not like I just went out on stage and said, ‘Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Sarah Palin is a (expletive).'”
“And furthermore, Palin is a public figure, unlike the college student,” he continued. “She also is a public figure who called David Letterman a child molester and the president a terrorist. So I don’t feel all that bad about doing a comedy routine about her.”
After his Melbourne, Fla., appearance, Maher is set to travel to the state’s west coast, where he’ll make an appearance at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Fla., and will be greeted by protesters, according to a report from the Naples Daily News.