NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ Fawns Over Bill Maher, Skips His History of Disgusting Rhetoric

Comedian Bill Maher is no stranger to making outrageous and offensive comments, usually directed at conservatives. His weekly HBO program Real Time with Bill Maher is an opportunity for the devout atheist and liberal to spew his anti-conservative hate, yet when a major television network profiles his comedy routine, his controversial style is ignored.

NBC’s Harry Smith sat down with Maher for an interview, which aired during the March 16th Meet the Press and the NBC reporter treated the comedian to a friendly puff interview without ever bringing up his tasteless comedy routine. Moderator David Gregory hyped the interview and observed how Maher has “been thinking about how dysfunctional politics has become in the country and he’s been dishing on both parties as he takes his message to red state America.” 

The interview began with Smith commenting how Maher is “reliably funny and reliably liberal” and allowed Maher to openly argue that the Republican Party “drove the short bus to crazy town at a certain point.” Not once did  Smith ask Maher about his past comments, such as when he called President Reagan a “anti-government, union-busting, race-baiting, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, who cut rich people's taxes in half, had an incurable case of the military-industrial complex, and said Medicare was socialism that would destroy our freedom.

During his interview with Maher, Smith allowed the comedian to slam conservatives and disgustingly claim that "I understand why the 1 percent, the richest 1 percent vote Republican. They deserve those votes. You know what, they represent the richest 1% perfectly. Anybody else who does, just corporate America's useful idiots."

Maher’s anti-conservative language was on display again on May 31, 2013, when he “joked” that:

George Bush, over the Memorial Day weekend, held the Wounded Warrior 100K [bike ride], which was a kind of a celebration for wounded warriors who came back from Iraq, and I guess they walked or ran or something on their prosthetic limbs. And I found this to be nauseating. I mean, first he sends them off to war to get their limbs blown off, and then he has them over for a barbecue. This is like the Cleveland guy having a pizza party for those girls he had in his basement.

Instead of bringing up his long list of anti-conservative vitriol, Smith could barely say that Maher has a “admittedly clouded perspective” about the world, not that his worldview was distorted or extreme in any way.

We at the Media Research Center have compiled an extensive list of some of Maher’s worst attacks against conservatives, yet Smith didn’t bother to ask Maher one tough question or provide any pushback against the liberal comedian’s anti-conservative comedic routine.

The fact that Harry Smith would sit down and laughed with a man with this track record of ugliness is astonishing and shows the lack of journalistic integrity at NBC News. Instead of condemning Maher for his nasty rhetoric, Smith and Gregory both promoted Maher as having a unique perspective on American politics rather than exposing him for what he truly is.

See relevant transcript below.

NBC's Meet the Press

March 16, 2014

DAVID GREGORY: We are back. So when it comes to politics, comedian Bill Maher doesn't pull any punches. You might have noticed that if you watch his HBO show. Well recently he's been thinking about how dysfunctional politics have become in the country and he’s been dishing on both parties as he takes his message to red state America. Our Harry Smith caught up with him.

HARRY SMITH: Reliably funny and reliably liberal, Bill Maher has been mounting a one-man comedic insurgency around the country.

BILL MAHER: I know everywhere there are smart, Progressive, freethinking people. They're just surrounded by a bunch of rednecks. I understand that.

SMITH: What's it like when you take your stuff to a red state?

MAHER: Better than blue states even. But there is an extra-added excitement in red states in places where people don't often see someone like me. There is not a place I can find in America that is so red that I can't get 3,000 screaming atheists to come see me on a Sunday. You know?

SMITH: Maher’s sardonic smirk has held head forth Friday night's on HBO for more than a decade. He says if the country has a case of the blahs, he's not surprised. Take health care, please. Was ObamaCare a mistake?

MAHER: The problem with ObamaCare is not too much socialism. It's still too much capitalism. The reason why it's so screwed up is because we have to have this Rube Goldberg plan that allows for pharmaceutical companies to get their cut and insurance companies to get their cut and hospitals to enrich themselves and doctors to get rich. It should be a non-profit thing. Perhaps elections should not be a profit-making endeavor or cost $2 billion. Of course we’re American exceptionalism, exceptionally stupid on then point but we are exceptional. Obama's soft on terror. Ask any wedding party in Afghanistan. He is -- so soft on terror. Like remember that time he found bin laden and he let him off with a warning and a stiff fine.

SMITH: And if anyone's to blame for most of what ales us, including the president's low approval ratings, it's not hard to guess who he faults.

SMITH: Who are you most displeased with these days? Republicans or Democrats?

MAHER: Oh, come on. Really? Seriously? Republicans. You know, I mean, in the last 20 years, that has not really been a choice. They just drove the short bus to crazy town at a certain point.

SMITH: In a Bill Maher run world there would be more news on the news, more Democrats in Congress, and a marijuana store in every strip mall. Is legalization of marijuana—


SMITH: An inevitability?

MAHER: I think it is, yeah. I keep comparing it to gay marriage. Once you see it becoming legal and the world doesn't fall down the next day or the next week or the next year, the issue kind of goes away.

SMITH: From Maher's admittedly clouded perspective the world is most definitely askew.

MAHER: I understand why the 1 percent, the richest 1 percent vote Republican. They deserve those votes. You know what, they represent the richest 1% perfectly. Anybody else who does, just corporate America's useful idiots.

SMITH: As for malaise, if it's real, it's our fault. What's wrong with us?

MAHER: Well, gosh, where to begin there? First of all, we're not very well informed. The political process. People used to take civics they should at least know how country worked. We have become a country where science is poo-pooed. It’s another one of those things somehow that’s somehow become politicized. People never used to argue that much about science. We might argue about how we take these facts and move forward in a different direction. But we don't argue about the facts themselves. That's not true anymore. Facts themselves, come on, Harry, how much do we really know about facts?

HARRY SMITH: For "Meet the Press," Harry Smith.

— Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Jeffrey Meyer on Twitter.