By Alan R. MacLeod
From one of my most popular and controversial articles:https://t.co/UdRL2DjvM6
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) May 22, 2021
That is why his latest outbursts are noteworthy. On the September 20 edition of Real Time, he condemned the Democrats for reviving their opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, claiming that continuing to “go after a guy for what he did in high school” “looks bad.” He implied that Democrats lost seats in the Senate for their “preposterous” opposition to what Kavanaugh did when he was just 17 (which, for the record, was multiple alleged attempted rapes or sexual assaults).
A week previously, Maher appeared on MSNBC’s flagship breakfast show, Morning Joe(9/12/19), where he claimed that the Democrats’ left-wing (i.e., Bernie Sanders) was a “cancer” destroying the party, warning that the left is “scarier and crazier than Trump,” and nominating a leftist as its presidential candidate would spell disaster in the next election. (Decrying the supposed unelectability of the left is a favorite pastime of elite pundits—FAIR.org, 2/26/19,7/2/19, 8/21/19.)
Media almost unanimously present Maher as a “liberal” (e.g. Salon, 10/11/14, 9/21/19; USA Today, 7/8/18; New York Post, 6/29/19) or even a “progressive” (The Hill, 2/2/17) comedian. Yet any inspection of his political positions dispels this illusion. To be sure, he generally supported President Barack Obama and opposes Donald Trump (although he has been known to do the opposite of both). But he also has a long history of repeatedly taking reactionary positions on many subjects, especially war.
On his previous Comedy Central show Politically Incorrect, Maher praised the Vietnam War as “necessary,” arguing it helped end the Cold War. (The US officially began its involvement in Vietnam 36 years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.) In 2013, he joked about killing antiwar activist Medea Benjamin after she interrupted Obama, and recanted his anti-Iraq War position, claiming, “Iraq is doing better than I thought it would be.” He praised George W. Bush for “creating a country” there.
And he championed Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, tweeting:
Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u — u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.
As that last comment suggests, sexism and rampant Islamophobia are also constant features of Maher’s ideology. In 2009, he called a woman who was reportedly choked by her boyfriend a “bitch,” claiming that it was surprising he did not attack her sooner.
He has also described Islam as a “cancer,” and told Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim, that the Quran is a “hate-filled holy book.” He defended the arrest of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed for bringing a clock into school, comparing him to an ISIS fighter, and expressed alarm over the rising popularity of the name “Mohammed,” worrying that the Western world was being “taken over by Islam.” He also offered advice to Western women: “Talk to women who have ever dated an Arab man,” he insisted: “The reviews are not good.”
Maher fully supports the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “I love Israel,” declared the celebrity atheist, professing his affection for the ethno-religious state.
The point is that Maher’s beliefs, actions and outbursts, if they are coherent at all, are not consistent with liberalism and are, if anything, more in keeping with a right-wing shock jock like Rush Limbaugh.
Indeed, when asked, he has been explicit about his ideology: “I’m a libertarian,” he said to Rolling Stone (4/13/11). “I would be a Republican if they would. Which means that I like the Barry Goldwater Republican Party, even the Reagan Republican Party.” His choice in naming the two figures whose mission was to upend the liberal order, often through appeals to racism and white nationalism, is telling.
“I want a mean old man to watch my money,” he added. “Because government is a sieve that takes as much money as it can and gives it away, usually needlessly.”
Yet corporate media continue to describe him as a liberal. Newsweek (3/16/19) did so in a story about him criticizing the Democratic Party, the Washington Times(9/13/19) did the same when it reported on his recent claim that the new “far-left” Democrats’ ideas are a “cancer” and they look “crazier” than Trump to him, while Fox News (5/11/19) reminded its readers twice that Maher was a liberal in a story about him praising Trump’s handling of the economy.
And therein lies the utility for the media in persisting to describe the self-described libertarian as a liberal: It allows media to formulate “he’s a liberal but” stories. “Conservative Criticizes Democrats” is not going to drive any clicks, whereas “Liberal Praises Trump” does. It is a classic example of the “Man Bites Dog” phenomenon.
Ultimately, Maher has built up an impressive following and continues to espouse snarky elitist hot takes weekly for HBO, earning an estimated $10 million per year doing so. Call him a racist, a bigot or an astute businessman; just don’t call him a liberal.
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In this ridiculously uneven struggle between people's voices like Caitlin Johnstone, Jonathan Cook, Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp, Glenn Greenwald, Abby Martin, Jeff Brown, Godfree Roberts, the Grayzone team, the folks at Consortium News, and others of equally impressive merit, and the capitalist system's Orwellian media machine, our role must always be to help distribute far and wide what these journalists produce—to act as "influence multipliers". There's power in numbers, power that the enemy cannot hope to match. This is the primal power that the masses possess and which the oligarchs fear. Put it to use by becoming an influence multiplier. Repost this material anywhere you can. Send it to your friends and kin. Discuss it with your workmates. Liberation from this infernal and mendacious system is in your hands.
This post is part of our Orphaned Truths series with leading cultural and political analysts. People you can trust.
The Jimmy Dore Show • Fiorella Isabel — Craig Pasta Jardula (The Convo Couch) • Abby Martin (The Empire Files)
Lee Camp's Redacted Tonight • Caleb Maupin
Max Blumenthal • Ben Norton • Aaron Maté (The Grayzone) • Caitlin Johnstone • Chris Hedges
^5000The mainstream imperialist media lie CONSTANTLY. Literally 24/7. And it's getting worse.
All of them do it: radio, tv, the newspapers, the movies. The internet. No exceptions.
The corporate Big Lie is pervasive and totalitarian. CBS does it. NBC does it. ABC does it.
CNN does it. FOX does it. NPR does it. And of course the NYTimes and WaPo do it.
Thousands of "diverse" voices telling you the same lies. Enough to convince anyone.
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