You wouldn’t think HBO comedian Bill Maher would be one of those interviews. You know the kind. The ones where you must promise you won’t ask about the very subject you want to discuss. Instead, you agree to talk about some bulls&%t and hope to sneak past the rules.
Maher expected the liberal website Salon to be his mouthpiece for his “Flip a District” feature and not answer anything about his brawl with actor Ben Affleck on his program Friday night. Except the reporter did ask. And that’s when Maher reminded the reporter that the topic was “Flip a District” and that’s all.
Is this how Maher operates? He invites guests on his show and they give him instructions on what he is or is not allowed to ask them? Give me a f–king break. Of course that doesn’t happen. But somehow when he’s the one being interviewed, he wants it sanitized to his liking.
In a word: gross.
To Salon‘s credit, here’s how the reporter, Elias Isquith, handled him. The first 22 graphs of the interview are basically a a mushfest about Maher’s “Flip a District” campaign in which the comedian hosts panel discussions in a district he wants to see flipped.
And then the reporter slinks his way in.
SALON: “So, look, you mentioned last night’s show. I’m not going to ask you to debate Islam with me; I’m sure you have more than enough people trying to do that with you right now —”
MAHER: “Yeah, let’s leave that for a while. I’ve said enough about that.”
The reporter pushes.
SALON: “But I want to ask you how you felt the Ben Affleck/Sam Harris segment went. Did you feel frustrated as it was happening?”
MAHER: “I think we all feel frustrated because I think we feel like the people who are arguing with us are not listening. …We’re liberals! We’re liberals. We’re not crazy tea-baggers, y’know, and so it’s kind of hard to be making this case — based on facts, based on polling, I think based on what everybody really knows. …We are not bigoted people. On the contrary, we’re trying to stand up for the principles of liberalism!”
This is when Maher has had enough of the reporter’s questions.
SALON: “Did you expect Affleck to get as upset as he did —”
MAHER: “You know, I don’t want to talk about this. You just said we’re not going to talk about this and now we’re talking about it.”
Maher told Salon he doesn’t need to agree with liberals on everything, nor join the Democratic Party. Then he says this:
“I’ll tell you something interesting — and then I am going to get off the subject because we’re here to talk about ‘Flip a District,’ was my understanding — what I think is interesting is that the audience, my studio audience, has really come around on this issue.”
He’s here to talk about “Flip a District” is his understanding.
Well, despite his understanding, the headline screams something far different than he likely wanted or, ahem, agreed to.