The HBO series, “Real Time With Bill Maher” typically features the host, Bill Maher, making jokes and having conversations about topical issues, with a heavy emphasis on politics. Though Maher frequently takes a liberal view, he also has a habit of criticizing what he sees as behavior that is overly politically correct.

In that vein, Maher took aim at recent protest activity in Portland on the Friday, Oct. 16, episode of his HBO show. During a socially distanced discussion with his guests, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and associate editor of Commentary Magazine Noah Rothman, Maher brought up the Oct. 11 event in Portland, during which a group of demonstrators tore down a statue of Abraham Lincoln, in addition to engaging in other acts of destruction. The protest was promoted on social media as “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage,” and was declared a riot by Portland Police, who made arrests.

Seemingly baffled by the toppling of Lincoln’s statue, Maher said, “I’ve got to give a shout-out to Fred Armisen. When he did ‘Portlandia,’ he got it right.” Maher went on to say that he always loved performing in Portland, “but I guess I missed a lot of what’s going on in Portland. The mayor there, Ted Wheeler, is about to lose to someone who’s proudly antifa.”

Maher was referring to the race between incumbent mayor Ted Wheeler and challenger Sarah Iannarone, which, according to one poll, showed Iannarone, who has declared herself an “everyday anti-fascist,” leading Wheeler by 11 points. A more recent poll shows Wheeler and Iannarone in a closer race, though many voters reported they were undecided.

After Maher called Lincoln “pretty woke for his day,” Avlon added, “If you can’t figure out the difference between tearing down a statue of a Confederate general and Lincoln, you should probably sit that one out.” Such activity, Avlon added, is equivalent to making “a campaign ad for Donald Trump.”

Maher also mentioned FBI director Christopher Wray’s comments to lawmakers, in which, as the Associated Press reported, Wray warned of the dangers of “violence by white supremacists as well as anti-government extremists.”

What Wray was saying, Maher suggested, is “white supremacists are still the biggest problem, but now we’ve got this other group, the anarchists.” Maher then went on to refer to an article in the New York Times, “which is usually pretty sympathetic to the Portland left,” Maher said, that reported on protests moving into residential neighborhoods, and where demonstrators with bullhorns shout for people to come out of their houses to show support for the protest, saying that not participating “is to show tacit support for racism.”

“I’m not down with that,” Maher said. “When I’m home, I’m home. Sorry.”

Maher said the New York Times article also said that Portland protests are “increasingly dominated by white people,” and then cited a report that showed Black people are more moderate in their views than liberal Democrats.

The “Real Time” segment prompted some sharp responses on social media, from people with differing viewpoints. Here’s a sample:

Another Twitter user wrote: “You lost me when you mocked Portland for the Lincoln statue by trying to tie the act to the confederacy. Not saying I agree with the act, but Lincoln was no friend to the indigenous. It was Columbus Day. There was a valid point to that topple. Have you Boomered out? #disappointed”

— Kristi Turnquist


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