Comedian Bill Maher erupted Friday night over "bulls**t issues" of racism and sexism, defending Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and White House press secretary Sean Spicer against harmful accusations from many liberals earlier this week.
Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C., suggested that O'Reilly was racist because he compared Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters' hair to that of legendary singer James Brown. O'Reilly apologized for the "dumb" remark," but that didn't stop Waters from speaking out about it.
“Let me just say this: I'm a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O'Reilly or anybody,” Waters told MSNBC's Chris Hayes Tuesday night.
Maher confronted the controversy along with his panel Friday night on his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher."
"She spoke out because Bill O'Reilly made a joke about Maxine Waters' hair," Maher said, downplaying the controversy.
Tanden took the opposite position from Maher, saying "she spoke out against racism and sexism, Bill. That's what she spoke out against."
Tanden's racism and sexism claim completely set off Maher. The liberal HBO host launched into what became an anti-political correctness tirade.
"This is why the Democrats lost the election in the first place," Maher said, "because they cannot get their priorities straight and they never fail to take the bait about little bulls**t issues of—" Tanden interjected: "I don't think racism and sexism are little bulls**t issues."
"Why is it racist?" Maher asked. "Why is it racist? Because he compared two black people?"
Tanden then deflected to another controversy from this week, sparked by Spicer telling veteran White House reporter April Ryan, who is black, to stop shaking her head. Spicer was accused of being racist and sexist after making the comment, even though he has also made similar condescending remarks to other reporters who are white and/or male, like ABC's Jonathan Karl and CNN's Jim Acosta.
Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary under President Barack Obama, once told Ryan to "calm down," even comparing her behavior to that of his child, but Tanden didn't mention that exchange. Instead, she insisted Spicer would never say anything like to a man or a white person.
"Do you know how April Ryan was treated? Are you saying he would have treated a man like that? Is that what you're saying? Or a white dude like that? I don' think that's right," she said. Maher wasn't having it. "And you go immediately to it's a racist thing of 'oh no he didn't,'" Maher quipped.
Former Republican Sen. Santorum from Pennsylvania chimed in, criticizing Tanden and other liberals for not being able to take a joke.
"Don't be outraged at every offense," Santorum said. That's one of the problems we have. Stop the fake outrage."
"It's not fake outrage," Tanden insisted. "Well then if it isn't fake, you should learn to take a joke and move on," Santorum shot back.
Warning: Video contains strong language.
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 1, 2017