Fake Outrage Watch


The good people at Newsbusters are gunning for Bill Maher after this exchange occured on his HBO show:

Maher: What about the people who got onto the Huffington Post – and these weren't even the bloggers, these were just the comments section – who said they, they expressed regret that the attack on Dick Cheney failed.

Joe Scarborough: Right

Maher: Now…

John Ridley: More than regret.

Maher: Well, what did they say?

Ridley: They said "We wish he would die." I mean, it was [unintelligable] hate language.

Barney Frank: They said the bomb was wasted. (laughter and applause)

Maher: That's a funny joke.

I sort of like the irony of Maher being mau-maued by something Barney Frank said just five years after he was mau-maued for something Dinesh D'Souza said. But this isn't fair. Frank was referring to an earlier (rather lame) subject the panel debated: Whether John McCain should have apologized for saying troops' lives in Iraq had been "wasted." Frank actually took the outrage machine's side, arguing that since military families don't need the stress of politicians saying their kids' lives were "wasted," McCain was right to walk it back. Maher, predictably, argued that since the Iraq war was probably lost, by definition the lives were wasted—and people had the right to say so. So when he joked about the Cheney not-assassination, Frank was making a funny reference to the argument they'd just put to bed; the schoolmarms at the MRC presumably know this, and are trying to puff up some outrage.

UPDATE: A Newsbuster e-mailed to point out that after this Maher said "I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow," and that this was the real meat of the Newsbusters post. Well, not really. Newbusters claims that Maher was "sorry the assassination attempt failed." He wasn't; he was finding the nugget of the controversy and nudging his guests to debate it. Maher's notion is that no debate should be out of bounds in American TV, which is pretty obvious if you've ever seen one of his shows. Why else would he repeatedly invite Ann Coulter on his show, a pundit liberals (and conservatives) have debated "shunning"?