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Politically Correct After All

The boys at NewsMax backpedal on their war against Bill Maher after finally figuring out that they agree with him.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/24/2001

NewsMax is making all nicey-nice with Bill Maher right now. It seems like only yesterday they were insulting him and demanding his TV show be canceled.

Actually, it pretty much WAS yesterday.

On Sept. 19, NewsMax reported that the "evil-tongued" Maher, "all too often the chief dunce of political correctness on ABC's hypocritically named "Politically Incorrect," had two advertisers drop out of sponsoring his show after what NewsMax calls "insulting our men and women in uniform" in remarks about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As NewsMax tells it:

"We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away," he said during a rant against the U.S. military. "That's cowardly." He expressed his admiration for the terrorists who slammed hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of Americans. "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly," the schlock show host said.

NewsMax then quotes Dan Patrick, a Houston radio talk show host (Why? Who knows? Either a buddy of somebody at NewsMax or perhaps just willing to provide the needed remarks), who advocated censoring Maher. "If Bill Maher believes that Americans are cowards and hijackers are warriors, let him go out on the street corner and shout that. But Disney does not have to give him a TV show and Channel 13 (the ABC station in Houston, presumably) does not have to air that show."

The next day, NewsMax gleefully reported that a three-station group of ABC stations in the Midwest at least temporarily dumped the "ultra-snide" Maher's show, allegedly because of Maher's "feeble attempts at apology." The NewsMax article includes a statement from Maher issued through "a PR flack" in which he says "In no way was I intending to say, nor have I ever thought, that the men and women who defend our nation in uniform are anything but courageous and valiant, and I offer my apologies to anyone who took it wrong."

That wasn't enough for NewsMax, which concludes the article by advocating Maher's censorship: "Take a stand by contacting your local ABC station and urging it to cancel 'Politically Incorrect.'"

Meanwhile, the rest of the ConWeb wasn't falling in line behind NewsMax's jihad against Maher. First, Debbie Schlussel -- a regular "Politically Incorrect" guest -- wrote in her Sept. 21 column (which gets its greatest exposure over at WorldNetDaily) that Maher was right and was misunderstood by people too caught up in their emotions over the attacks. "It's very silly, really. But it's playing into the terrorists' hands," she wrote.

The same day, WorldNetDaily's Rebecca Hagelin also came to his defense in a column defending the right of several people criticized for their post-attack remarks to say what they want. While she disagrees with many of his views, "it is the Bill Mahers of America – those who provide a platform for scintillating debate – that make America and democracy stronger," she wrote, adding that "it should also be noted that many of those calling for Maher to lose his public voice are ignoring that during (the following night's) show he clarified his previous statement." (Hagelin also notes that "The Wall Street Journal's 'Best of the Web' is attempting to split business alliances apart" over WND's running of Anthony LoBaido's strange column, the first reference at WND to the Journal's criticism.)

NewsMax got the message. Late on Sept. 21, it ran Maher's clarification of his remarks, which are worded basically the same way they were earlier in the week when NewsMax wasn't in the mood to hear them. Then, the next day, NewsMax ran an article liberally quoting from Schlussel's column. (No mention of her WorldNetDaily association or a link to the original column.) The article concluded with what will probably be the closest to NewsMax admitting they screwed up:

Bill Maher may be one of most "politically correct" persons in America. He likes to snarl at conservatives, and many don't even appear on his show because the guests and audience are typically stacked against them - but in this case, Maher got caught being flippant and insensitive - not unpatriotic.

Glad NewsMax finally got it right. Now, if they can just get stuff like that right before it sees daylight on their site.

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