In a discussion about U.S. debt, Maher compared Republicans to Yasser Arafat, the deceased former president of the Palestinian National Authority. That’s when panelist Dan Savage, a writer, pundit and gay-rights activist, said: “Unfortunately not exactly like (Arafat). I wish they were all f–king dead.”
(See video of the segment below).
Maher and the other panelists didn’t seem to react to the comment. Chrystia Freeland of Thomson Reuters was next to speak, saying: “I think it’s a really good point,” apparently addressing Maher’s point, not Savage’s.
But while Friday night’s Real Time gang didn’t seem interested in exploring Savage’s comment, others have been.
Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated talk show host and frequent guest on Real Time, for example, discussed it on his radio program Monday,
And conservative bloggers naturally wondered if Savage was engaging in the “new tone” that liberals were demanding in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January.
Writing for Newsbusters, a unit of the Media Research Center, a right-wing version of Media Matters, Noel Sheppard said the segment “contained some of the most vile political talk ever broadcast on national television.”
“Wow! Savage on national television said he wished all Republicans were dead. This was about twenty minutes before he said he wanted to have hate sex with Rick Santorum,” Sheppard wrote.
“Is this really the kind of discussion HBO condones? A guest saying he wants about 40 percent of the nation dead?” Sheppard asked. “Exactly how does someone get away with saying something like that on national television? Odder still, nobody seemed at all bothered by it.”
HBO didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Savage apologized for his remarks on his blog.
“I want to apologize for… um… wishing all Republicans dead,” Savage blogged.
“I don’t feel that way. My dad is a Republican,” Savage wrote. “It was a stupid, rude, thoughtless remark. I regret and I retract it and I apologize to anyone watching at home – particularly my father – who may have heard me say it. I had a drink before the show – first and last time I’ve ever done that – but this wasn’t a case of, ‘In vino, veritas.’ ”