Bill Maher had words for Democrats on his show "Real Time" on Friday: "Grow a pair."
The subject of his critique was the Democratic National Committee announcing their intent to exclude Fox News from hosting or moderating any of the party's primary debates. Maher, a Democrat with a tendency to step outside liberal orthodoxy from time to time, thinks it's a ridiculous decision, and he explained why.
"You want to be in the big leagues but you refuse to ever play an away game?" he rhetorically asked.
He really dug the knife in when he made the comparison Democrats tolerate the least.
"You don't like the questions that Fox News might ask so you're deciding to not take any questions at all?" he said. "How very Trump of you."
Ouch. Watch the clip below.
New Rule: Get In the Bubble | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) youtu.be
"You call yourself the resistance? Then fight behind enemy lines! That's what a resistance does," Maher said.
Facing hostile questions from a press that is opposed to you is the natural state of communication for Republicans. Softball questions from a media as committed to unseating the GOP as the Democrats are aren't good journalism. Or even a productive use of time. Maher noted the difference.
"This is a fundamental problem with the Democratic party," he said. "They look weak, running from a fight when they should be in there throwing punches."
"Republicans never shy away from coming on this show," he added. "And they come with a smile on their face, despite knowing that the only people in the crowd cheering them on are the three campaign aides they brought with them."
He got some good laughs in that bit, but wasn't done with the blistering comparison.
"The audience is against them and they don't care, because it's an opportunity to expose people to your side of the story," Maher pointed out. "So what if there are groans? Groans won't kill you. Political TV is full of groans, and eye rolls, and pouting and, worst of all, Tucker-face."
Maher said he used to think that he never saw prominent Democrats on Fox is because they weren't invited, but now he realizes that they just don't go.
"Here's a list of prominent Democrats who do frequently go on Fox News: Congressman Eric Swalwell. That's it. Really, that's the list," he said.
Maher's argument isn't that Fox News is great, or that Democrats need to face tough questions, but rather that by facing potentially oppositional media these politicians will be able to put their own point of view in front of viewers who might not otherwise see it.
"Look, we all know Fox News sucks. It's ruined Facebook and Thanksgiving and turned your grandpa into a dick," he said, to big applause. "You have to get inside the bubble." He even criticized Democrats announcing their 2020 campaigns for going first to talk to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
The DNC does not typically host its debates or forums with Fox News or their moderators, though they face them in the general election. Their announcement this year was likely designed to generate buzz with the so-called "resistance", who are on a warpath and seeking what vengeance and retribution they can find for 2016.
It's also a matter of hiding their views. Maher cites the dramatically larger share of politically engaged voters who watch FNC than other sources of news, and argues the DNC should want to reach those voters and, while that may be mathematically so, it misses part of the story.
The DNC doesn't want a lot of what is going on in their primary jockeying to reach those voters. Infanticide, socialism, reparations, and other far left of center positions being pushed by what can fairly now be called the "Ocasio-Cortez wing" of the Democrats aren't popular among average American voters. In the general election, the eventual Democrat nominee won't have to pander to that wing, but in the primary it's currently a contest of who can be the most radical. Surely the DNC is thinking that keeping that part of their selection away from moderate and swing voters is simply a strategic necessity.
If so, they are wrong. Maher is correct on several points, including the math of voters. But it is especially true that being weak and unchallenged is a recipe for disaster. When people can't hold their leaders accountable, when their fawning fans and the networks that cater to them offer no pushback and become simply propaganda, then those leaders stop being deliberate and accountable and instead become deceptive, aloof, and dangerous.
That's a state of affairs our country is supposed to oppose. It's kind of our thing.