Bill Maher interviewed Milo Yiannopoulos on Real Time with Bill Maher last night. The interview was okay. Maher avoided most of the touchy subjects that Milo is known for. It seemed more like Maher wanted to teach Milo to tone down his behavior than conduct an interview. I got that impression from how Maher brought up the people Milo targets. He also read some jokes from the late Joan Rivers. Maher’s point was that Milo should choose his targets more carefully and thoughtfully, and if not make sure the jokes are funny. Maher clearly sees something in Milo because he later tells Milo that he sees him as a potential “young, gay, alive Christopher Hitchens.”
The intervention tone, however, kept the conversation from getting to anything of substance. Milo’s own behavior did not help. He tends to speak endlessly. Maher does the same thing. They both interrupt others a lot (Hitchens also did this). It makes for a stilted conversation because neither one of them could make a point and dig into it.
What I consider the low point is the end of the interview. Maher tells Milo that he needs to “get off the Trump train”, but ends the interview without letting Milo explain why he supports Donald Trump. While I agree that Milo’s support of Trump is misguided at best and deliberate trolling at worst, it was bad form for Maher to make the comment and not let Milo respond.
Neither one of them gave a great performance. They have both been far better during other interviews. It was a good display, however, of what Milo is like as an admitted troll and provocateur. He says things to get a rise, and when people react, as the audience did several times, he throws his “gotcha!” smirk. As Maher said, the left falls for it every time, as two of his other guests proved during the Overtime segment.
Malcolm Nance and Larry Wilmore decided to attack Milo after he insulted their intelligence. Context matters in this instance. The insult came after Maher asked Milo a question about his comments on a transgender student. Milo mocked the former student during on of his speeches, which prompted outrage from progressives. The mockery is rather tame, claiming the student does not “pass” as a woman.
Milo explained his position to Maher, which is that he considers the former student to suffer from confusion about his sexuality and does not think people like that should be allowed to use the same restrooms or locker rooms as women and girls.
One can argue about the substance of that position. That is not what happened on the panel. Instead, Wilmore attempts to counter Milo’s position by comparing the situation with that of gay people, admitting that they are not the same but similar, and implying that Milo should support them for that reason. Wilmore implies discrimination by using the word “marginalized”, and when Milo calls him on it Wilmore attempts equivocate. When Milo claims that being transgender is a mental disorder, Wilmore states that Milo may have a disorder. Milo runs with this and says he might and it may apply to gay people in general. They go back and forth with this.
Nance then comes in and claims that Milo may be confused about his sexuality. Nance makes a fairly obvious, very weak gay joke about Milo looking like someone from Port Said, to which Milo replies that Nance was the one pulling out his wallet. Nance calls Milo “shipmate”, again another obvious gay joke.
The reason I spelled the exchange is because it provides the context of Milo’s response: Maher says that Milo always fights with people. Milo states that they were having a nice time but that Maher invites awful people, referring to Nance and Wilmore. He says that they are stupid and Maher should get more guests with higher IQs. To this, Wilmore replies, “You can go fuck yourself, alright.”
And just like that, Wilmore lost the debate.
This is a common tactic from progressives. They engage in ad hominem and pejoratives and expect their targets to either agree with it, go along with it, or fall for it. Milo did none of those things. Instead, he dished it back. It was a trap, and Wilmore fell for it.
There is Milo being insulted by a former spy and a failed comedian, and he laughs it off. He insults them, and they take it personally. He actually comes out the better for it because he reveals just how thin-skinned the progressives are.
To this point, Nance later questions Milo’s nationality. This happens during an exchange about Russians rigging the election for Trump. Milo states that he would rather deal with the Russians than someone (Hillary Clinton) feigning concern for gay people while taking money from Saudi Arabia, a country that kills gay people. Nance asks Milo to confirm this, which Milo does. He then asks if Milo is a US citizen, and when informed that Milo is not, Nance replies, “Oh… fuck off.”
This plays well with the base, but looks silly to anyone else watching. Milo comes across at worst as silly while Wilmore and Nance look at best rather petty.
None of this makes the progressives look good. The better line of attack against Milo would have been to challenge his comment about transpeople being disproportionately responsible for sex crimes. I hunted for any statistics to support this, and I could not find anything close to supporting the claim. I could not find anything listing the prevalence of sex crimes committed by transpeople.
And Milo likely knows this was a nonsense claim. He said it to provoke a response. That is something that I dislike about him, and something Maher was trying to warn him about. It is one thing to be a provocateur. It is another thing to throw out that kind of blatant lie that you know is a lie.
Yet instead of challenging Milo on that, Wilmore and Nance resulted to insults, giving Milo the win. Milo showed that he was nowhere near as bad any the progressives claim, and while he is clearly playing a character, most of what he says is benign.
What Wilmore and Nance demonstrated is that you do not respond to someone being bitchy by being a pussy.