“I’m gonna start with an open mind," Bill Maher said to controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos at the beginning of their highly anticipated interview on HBO's long-running political satire program 'Real Time,' which aired Friday night.
Yiannopoulos's booking on the show prompted another guest, Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the news site The Intercept, to pull out, issue a statement on Twitter condemning Yiannopoulos for "hate speech" and warn against giving him a platform.
"Look, I think you’re colossally wrong on a number of things, but if I banned everyone from my show who I thought was colossally wrong, I would be talking to myself," Maher told Yiannopoulos.
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The interview and Yiannopoulos's subsequent appearance on the show's panel lived up to expectations as the Breitbart editor sparred with the other guests, resulting in two of them telling him to go "f*&k himself," while during the interview he ripped into Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman for contracting "feminism," as though it was a disease.
Clad in pearls, Yiannopolous, who many call the voice of the so-called alt-right, did find some common ground with host Bill Maher during their 11-minute interview, agreeing mainly on the importance of free speech, comedy, and the need to characterize Islam accurately.
“The reason [liberals] want to police humor is they can’t control it, because the one thing all authoritarians hate is the sound of laughter,” Yiannopoulos said.
“And also because when people laugh they know it’s true,” Maher quickly replied. “You are so helped by the fact that liberals always take the bait.”
“Nothing annoys people like the truth," Yiannopoulos said. "Policing humor for racism and sexism is utterly wrongheaded. Not because normally it’s not there, but because that’s how we build bridges, and not how we break them.”
“We have both been disbarred at Berkeley,” added Maher, trying to strike a civil tone and bringing up the protests against Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, which recently made him a household name in the United States.
The two also agreed that their humor has hurt people over time, but that they do it for good reason. Maher admitted he has hurt many people over his career, particularly in his attacks on religion. But he draws the line at personal attacks, which is where he takes issue with Yiannopoulos's trolling and hate speech.
“No, I hurt people for a reason,” defended Yiannopoulos. “For sure. No, I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll.”
When the interview turned towards Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos defended his support for the president: "You can't call Trump a traditional conservative, he is not that Republican."
Maher quickly agreed, but later ended the interview insisting that, "You should get off the Trump train. For someone who loves free speech, you have picked a weird boyfriend."