Is there any speaker in the world today more guaranteed to spark controversy -- and even rioting, as we saw recently in Berkeley -- than gay conservative firebrand and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos?
After the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher dared to book the man reflexively dubbed a "right-wing provocateur" for this Friday's show, another guest -- journalist and The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill -- bowed out, citing his moral objection to sharing the stage with such a reprehensible character.
Scahill posted a lengthy statement on Twitter explaining he had notified the show’s producers that, despite being a longtime supporter of the show, giving Milo a forum to spread his "racist, anti-immigrant" views was “a bridge too far.”
“He has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes,” Scahill wrote:
There is no value in debating him. Appearing on Real Time will provide Yiannopoulos with a large, important platform to openly advocate his racist, anti-immigrant campaign. … Yiannopoulos’s appearance could also be used to incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others at a time when the Trump Administration is already seeking to formalize a war against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. … I cannot participate in an event that will give a platform to such a person.
Bill Maher responded in a statement defending the booking, according to Entertainment Weekly, taking issue with Scahill’s suggestion that Maher is anti-Muslim:
My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol. Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.
Real Time booked MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance as a replacement for Scahill, according to EW. Sparks are guaranteed to fly.