On Friday night, two of the country’s foremost Islamophobes sat across from one another on HBO to debate the issues of the day. In one corner was Bill Maher, a self-professed liberal who spends 90 percent of his Real Time show railing against Muslims, platforming conspiracy theorists and/or white nationalist trolls, and whining about “cancel culture.” The other had Ben Shapiro, the Daily Wire co-founder who, when he’s not being an outrageous hypocrite or distributing films by producers with a long history of overlooking sexual misconduct, spends 90 percent of his time whining about “cancel culture” or “owning the libs” by saying hateful drivel like this:
The last time Shapiro visited Maher’s late-night show, the two culture warriors got along famously, with the comedian failing to challenge the equivocating pundit on his Trump flip-flopping or dubious claims that liberals were more intolerant than conservatives. On Friday, things were a bit more contentious, as Shapiro joined the program to promote his new book The Authoritarian Moment, about how the American left has become more “authoritarian” than the right.
“Your thesis is, the authoritarian moment is coming from the left. And I must say, when I read the book, I don’t disagree with a lot of what you’re saying—I’ve certainly made that case myself… I just wanted to know, where’s the other half of the book?” asked Maher. “Yes, I agree with you: Woke Twitter has power… it’s just soft power. I just find it perverse that you find that less alarming than the kind of old-school authoritarianism that Trump and his ilk are going for.”
Maher then cited Trump’s attempts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, including that time he incited a violent mob to storm the Capitol and do so on his behalf, as well as a recent poll from Business Insider saying that 47 percent of Republicans believe “it may be time to take the law into our own hands.”
Cue Shapiro, who employed his usual strawman: briefly acknowledging that that was indeed “alarming,” before arguing that Trump’s attempts to subvert democracy weren’t so authoritarian because Democratic institutions prevented him from doing so, before somehow drawing a line between 1/6 and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s a nice title for his book, and I think a lot of people who would assume that he’s talking about real authoritarianism could be trapped into giving you $28.99,” offered guest Malcolm Nance, a former Navy officer and current MSNBC contributor, who again brought up how Donald Trump commanded an insurrection, which he argued is far more authoritarian than “Twitter gossip.”
When Maher brought up how Fox News host Tucker Carlson was hobnobbing with fascist leader Viktor Orban in Hungary, Shapiro ignored the question and instead countered with the time then-President Obama sat with then-Cuban President Raul Castro at an exhibition baseball game and CDC mask mandates (?).
Once the subject got to critical race theory, with Shapiro falsely arguing that it is being taught to children across America (you can really only find it in law school), Nance had had enough, telling him, “Is this what you do on your show? Because it sucks.”
That quip prompted a visibly irritated Shapiro to say, “You know, Malcolm, I… I appreciate that, but I will comfort myself tonight by sleeping on my bed made of money.”
Yes, he really said that.