Chris Hayes bombs Bill Maher: Do liberals get pandered to on MSNBC?
Sometimes, yes, they do. Consider Chris Hayes’ handling of the epic debate between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck.
Affleck appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday evening, October 3. Three nights later, Hayes devoted a segment to the discussion.
He teased the topic right at the start of his program:
HAYES (10/6/14): Plus, the epic Ben Affleck/Bill Maher smack down.Ben Affleck had called Maher a racist! It was an epic smack down!
AFFLECK (videotape): Because it’s gross! It’s racist.
HAYES: All In starts right now.
Later, Hayes teased the excitement again:
HAYES: Ben Affleck calls Bill Maher “gross and racist.” We’ll play you the tape ahead.Plainly, the excitement was building. And the R-bomb was flying again.
After a break, the segment ran about the epic smack down.
To watch the full segment, click here. What did viewers get in that segment?
They saw a highly selective set of video clips from the HBO show—clips in which Affleck is hurling accusations at Maher and Sam Harris. They then saw Hayes display his own moral greatness.
After playing those rather selective video clips, Hayes began with this:
HAYES: All right. Two things. First of all, the definition of Muslims as people who “just want to go to the store, eat sandwiches and pray five times a day” is basically perfect and can’t be improved upon.Admittedly, that was cute. But Hayes bungled what Affleck had said on the tape, and it isn’t a “basically perfect” definition of anything in the first place.
Mainly, it’s just silly. Presumably, Hayes must know that.
Whatever! That was simply a cable host pandering to his viewers. But as he continued, Hayes did something that was flatly dishonest—and perhaps just a tiny bit vile:
HAYES (continuing directly): Second of all, put me down on the Ben Affleck camp on this, strongly. I think to suggest that what is happening in the most extreme form in some Muslim countries is representative of the views of all Muslims is gross and racist. Or to obsess over what the particular problem with Islam is.For the record, Harris’ name was never mentioned by Hayes. He only mentioned Affleck and Maher when he described the smack down.
Had Maher “suggested that what is happening in the most extreme form in some Muslim countries is representative of the views of all Muslims?” Plainly, that’s what Hayes implied in that statement. Is that suggestion accurate?
We’d have to say it isn’t. In fact, when Harris made his most definitive statistical statement on Real Time, he said he was discussing the beliefs of roughly twenty percent of Muslims worldwide.
Twenty percent isn’t all! If a person actually wants to be fair, neither Maher nor Harris said or suggested that “what is happening in the most extreme form in some Muslim countries is representative of the views of all Muslims.”
This distinction was perfectly clear on Real Time. It wasn’t in the selective clips Hayes played for his viewers.
To be honest, Maher didn’t say or suggest that. But so what? That had been Affleck’s hysterical claim, as shown in the tapes that Hayes had just played.
Now, Hayes implied that this was what Maher had actually said—and he went on to say that Maher’s supposed suggestion really was “gross and racist.”
In short, Hayes dropped an R-bomb on Maher’s head after playing selective tapes and offering a grossly tilted account of what he actually said. By traditional norms, this is ugly behavior. More and more, though, this is our “liberal” norm.
As Hayes continued, he played one last rather dumb card. He criticized Maher for holding his discussion without any Muslims on his panel. He then played tape of Reza Aslan discussing Islam on CNN, leading to this pronouncement:
HAYES: It turns out, as a general rule, that asking people to explain what they believe, and why, is a whole lot more enlightening than speculating about their beliefs as if they’re not in the room.“As a general rule,” that may or may not be right. It all depends on what you're discussing and who you choose for your panelists.
The fact that Aslan is a Muslim doesn’t automatically mean that he can or will explain the views of Muslims worldwide. It doesn’t mean that he can explain those views more accurately than Harris.
Similarly, the fact that a Muslim panelist can explain his own views doesn’t mean that he can explain the views of Muslims worldwide. Still, this let Hayes exit the segment with a final lofty pronouncement.
Including Muslims in such discussions may well be a good idea. In the meantime, how about this:
Hayes had just conducted a monologue about Bill Maher without Bill Maher in the room! He misrepresented what Maher had said, then said his statements had been gross and racist.
We’re going to say there was a time when Hayes wouldn’t have done that. But the suits have gotten ahold of Hayes since they put him in prime time, and Hayes has become a somewhat different cable performer.
Liberal viewers were pandered to and misled this night. As those viewers were misled, the R-bombs continued to fall.