CNN Contributor Argues Limbaugh's Remark Was Worse Than Bill Maher's Vitriol Against Palin

Liberal comedian Pete Dominick, a CNN contributor, listed the "differences" he saw between Rush Limbaugh's crack at Sandra Fluke and Bill Maher ripping Sarah Palin in vile fashion, on CNN Wednesday. "[T]here still is a difference in terms of what comedians say," he said of Maher versus "arguably" the "most influential commentator in all of politics" Rush Limbaugh.

Perhaps his most ridiculous point was that Limbaugh was "quite literal" calling Fluke a "slut," whereas Maher just made "gender-based insults" calling Sarah Palin obscenities that were just as vile. [Warning: this article contains obscenities that are uncensored to accurately portray what Bill Maher has said about women.]

Dominick may not remember this particular instance, but Maher clearly showed his hatred for Palin last July when he called her "a bully who sells patriotism like a pimp, and the leader of a strange family of inbred weirdos straight out of 'The Hills Have Eyes'," before adding that "I'm saying it because it's true."

And Maher never said "I'm only kidding" after smearing Palin as a "twat," a "cunt," or a "MILF." Even the far-left Daily Kos didn't make such a distinction, noting that although Palin and Fluke were different targets the crime was the same for both Limbaugh and Maher.

CNN host Kyra Phillips challenged Dominick's points. "These are really harsh words, and Bill Maher stepped away from the comedic role when he donated $1 million to the super PAC," she said referring to President Obama's super PAC. "[Y]ou can imagine there are people stepping forward, including Sarah Palin, saying you tell the Obama super PAC to give this guy his million dollars back and stick it."

But Dominick was not done differentiating the crimes of Maher and Limbaugh, insisting "there still is a difference in terms of what comedians say" and downplaying Maher's $1 million contribution to Obama's super PAC. He asked "the more important point is, how influential is Bill Maher's money on politics?"

And he thought Maher's 2001 remarks – which led to the canceling of his ABC show Politically Incorrect – were "fairly accurate." Maher had quipped that the 9/11 terrorists were not cowards, but rather that "we have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 7 on Newsroom at 11:16 a.m. EST, is as follows:

KYRA PHILLIPS: Look, Rush Limbaugh, right? Influential in the Republican Party. He calls a woman a slut, then yesterday President Obama invokes his daughters, saying that this is offensive discourse. He reached out to Fluke to support her for standing up and testifying about the issue. He wouldn't want his girls exposed to this language, he says. Now the President, whose super PAC got a million bucks from comedian Bill Maher, who said this in the past.

(...)

PHILLIPS: Pete, I'll get right to it. What's the difference?

PETE DOMINICK, Sirius/XM political talk show host: There are a number of differences, and I wouldn't apologize for any man making those kinds of comments about women, as the father of two daughters, and the husband of an amazing woman. But there are differences. A, Bill Maher is a comedian. You heard all of that laughter. That was in the monologue before his show Real Time. And Rush Limbaugh is not, Rush Limbaugh is perhaps arguably the most influential commentator in all of politics, certainly on the Republican side.

There are differences in the targets, with women running for president and a woman, mostly private, testifying one time. And there are differences in terms of the descriptions used, the describers, the words that they use. Rush Limbaugh was quite literal when he described this woman being a slut, and Bill Maher was making gender-based insults, which I frankly am offended by at this point.

PHILLIPS: Gender-based insults have such a greater impact. I mean, let's just for a moment step aside from, okay, the comedian and the powerful voice within the Republican Party. These are really harsh words, and Bill Maher stepped away from the comedic role when he donated $1 million to the super PAC. He went into that political world, so you can imagine there are people stepping forward, including Sarah Palin, saying you tell the Obama super PAC to give this guy his million dollars back and stick it.

DOMINICK: Yeah, Bill Maher stepped away from the political role when he comments on politics. He has a whole entire television show which is great, I love to be on. As do I, as a comedian and a political commentator on Sirius/XM. But there still is a difference in terms of what comedians say – and I am a freedom of speech absolutist, and I defend Rush's freedom to speak. And by the way, Bill Maher has come out in defense of Rush Limbaugh on this, being the host of Politically Incorrect, once getting, well he got fired from Politically Incorrect for his comments which weren't that – which were fairly accurate, in my opinion, and not – but provocative for the time.

But there is a difference, and you're right, we can argue about how much influence his $1 million donation to President Obama's super PAC can be. Technically, President Obama can't tell the super PAC what to do with the money. He can't communicate with them. He could publicly say I think they should give it back, but Kyra, the more important point is how influential iis Bill Maher's money on politics? We should be talking here and everywhere else about how influential big money of big industry – oil, pharmaceutical, the insurance – that money which comes to all the candidates, Democrats and Republicans. It's much more influential than a comedian-slash-political commentator.

PHILLIPS: Understand, but that money becomes a symbol, right? And women are seeing okay, Bill Maher saying these gender-based insults. Okay, he donated a million dollars to Obama's super PAC. Wait a minute, Obama came out and said hey Sandra Fluke, way to go standing up and testifying and don't let these horrible words coming out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth impact you. I wouldn't want my daughters to be impacted in a negative way by that. There's an image there. It's out there.

DONINICK: It's a fair – it's a fair criticism, and we can talk about it. But I think we would also have to talk about anything that any person who has donated much more than Bill Maher has said publicly. But let me just make sure I'm being clear on this. The problem that we have here is Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, or anybody else no matter where they're saying it or how they're saying it, making gender-based or race-based or sexual orientation-based insults that would in any way ever discourage any young woman in this case from speaking publicly. My daughters – I would be very honored if my daughters were ever as courageous as this young woman, and come out and speak whatever they believe. And I hope that any young woman or person viewing is not discouraged by the bullying of any of these people saying these things about them.

That's really where the damage gets done, that someone would be shut up, would be afraid to speak because they would be dragged through the mud in this horrific way that has happened to this young woman. And, so, that's really the most important point about this entire conversation that we never discourage women, in this case, from speaking out what they believe.

PHILLIPS: You know, you're a dad. You've got daughters. Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher don't have daughters. I wonder if they would take –

DOMINICK: It makes a big difference.

PHILLIPS:  – use their words differently.

DOMINICK: I was not in this way an advocate for women – I'll be completely honest – before I had daughters. Men who have daughters change the way they view about how women should be treated at work, how women should be paid, in so many other ways. I have completely changed as a man and you're right. Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh have benefitted tremendously from birth control.

PHILLIPS: (Laughter) Pete Dominick, thank you. That caught me off-guard. What a perfect way to button it up. Thank you so much, Pete.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014