Tags: ABC | Station | Yanks | Maher | Program

ABC Station Yanks Maher Program

Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM

WJLA-TV in Washington says host Bill Maher's remarks were "insensitive." Maher had made the statement that the U.S. was "cowardly" in lobbing missiles at Kosovo thousands of miles away. The remark came in an interview with Dinesh D'Souza, who had said that whatever else the despicable terrorists were, a willingness to sacrifice their lives to commit their murderous act Sept. 11 did not show cowardice.

In a statement issued by WJLA-TV's President and General Manager Christopher Pike, the station declared it was "also offended by the insensitive remarks made by host Bill Maher on ABC's Politically Incorrect this week."

The bottom line, where this leading outlet in the Washington is concerned, is that "As a result of these comments, and although we are contractually obligated to air Politically Incorrect, WJLA will substitute a replacement program in this time period [effective immediately]. … We have also passed along our concern to ABC."

The statement made no mention of whether the ban would be lifted after the uproar subsides. And attempts by NewsMax.com to get a clarification were unsuccessful.

When an affiliate of a network cancels a program over a controversy such as this, it becomes an economic battle between a corporation and its customer. And sometimes the economics can be high-stakes. The larger the market, the more money that is involved.

"Although we are strong defenders of the right to free speech," Pike’s statement continued, "Mr. Maher’s ill-timed comments demonstrated a lack of feeling for the victims of this tragedy" in "this time of great sorrow."

With certain caveats, Maher received a measure of sympathy from unexpected quarters. Both Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, on their shows Thursday, acknowledged Maher's explanation that he did not mean to imply that it was the military that was "cowardly."

Limbaugh accepted that, while agreeing the choice of Maher's wording was poor. The talk show host criticized the "Politically Incorrect" host for using the non-specific term "we."

"We" were not cowardly, the radio talker told his huge audience.

He went on to recall that at the time President Clinton ordered missile firing on Kosovo in 1999, he himself was critical of the action. He had said it raised questions as to whether the presidential directive was issued to "distract attention from what was then going on in Washington, D.C." – a clear reference to the fact that at the time, allegations of rape were then swirling around the then-president, who had just survived an impeachment attempt.

In that sense, Limbaugh said, he could actually agree with Maher if the TV host meant that Clinton, and "only [that] one man" was cowardly. He noted that this was perhaps the "one and only time" he had ever tended to agree with Maher.

Of course, Limbaugh added, the "Politically Incorrect" emcee couldn't bring himself to utter a critical word of "his god, Clinton."

That exact comment was made later on Fox News Channel's "The O’Reilly Factor," where Maher appeared as an interviewee. O'Reilly accepted Maher's explanation of not meaning to implicate the military, though he did note that the timing for Maher's poor wording could not have come at a worse time.

The fact that a station right in the capitol of this nation has yanked "Politically Incorrect" has made other cancellations more likely, depending on what action is taken by the Disney-owned network to make amends.

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WJLA-TV in Washington says host Bill Maher's remarks were insensitive. Maher had made the statement that the U.S. was cowardly in lobbing missiles at Kosovo thousands of miles away. The remark came in an interview with Dinesh D'Souza, who had said that whatever else the...
ABC,Station,Yanks,Maher,Program
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2001-00-21
Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM
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