Maher, the libertarian comedian who faced harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle this week after using the n-word on his show on Friday, wants to bring Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur whose career took a nosedive after he appeared on Real Time in February, back on the show for another round of trolling.
In an interview with Esquire (conducted before Maher's n-word controversy), Maher said he wants to help resuscitate Yiannopoulos' career after contributing to its decline.
Now Maher says that he'd like to help rescue Yiannopoulos from his tumble out of the spotlight. "I actually want to have him back," Maher told me. "I don't think he would be that hard to bring around to a much more reasonable position." (Yiannopoulos says another appearance is in the works.)
Within 48 hours after appearing on Real Time, which brought Yiannopoulos his greatest degree of mainstream recognition, Yiannopoulos lost his job as an editor at right-wing news website Breitbart and his book deal with Simon & Schuster after comments he made in a different interview defending sexual relationships between teenage boys and grown men emerged.
During his appearance on Real Time, Yiannopoulos and Maher agreed over their distaste for Islam and transgender people, and co-panelist Larry Wilmore told Yiannopolous "go f--- yourself" after Yiannopoulos suggested Wilmore and fellow panelist Malcolm Nance, who are both black, had low IQs, a racist idea proliferated by political scientist Charles Murray, one of Yiannopoulos' influences.
The Esquire profile notes,
Maher's defense for inviting unseemly, ratings-pumping guests on his show is that America is doomed if it lets free speech die. He has no patience for what some call "no-platforming," which maintains that a commitment to free speech doesn't mean you have to give bigots the opportunity of appearing, say, on a show watched by four million people.
In this case, Maher should seriously think long and hard about giving Yiannopoulos a platform again. Maher apologized for using a racial slur, but if he's actually sorry, he wouldn't invite a racist on his show. But he might — a representative for Real Time told TVGuide.com that Yiannopoulos is "one of many names that the show is considering."
It remains to be seen whether or not Maher will actually bring Yiannopoulos on the show, especially now that Maher is under unwanted scrutiny himself, but knowing Maher, who never met a controversy he didn't dive into headfirst and has had more legitimate guests like Sen. Al Franken cancel in the wake of his comment last week, he'll bring Yiannopoulos back before summer's over. Yiannapoulos and Maher are kindred spirits in saying outrageous things for attention, and this would surely get attention for both of them. The wrong kind of attention, but attention nonetheless.