After Bill Maher called the Koran "a hate-filled book" on HBO's "Real Time" Friday, NewsBusters asked if he would be attacked by the media for doing so.
With no outrage having ensued, the folks at Fox News on Monday questioned why Maher's comments went ignored by the Muslim defenders in the press, with Juan Williams telling Bill O'Reilly that if he had said anything like that, "They would have tied you to the pillar and be whipping you and stoning you" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Impact Segment" tonight, if a conservative or even a moderate journalist criticizes the Koran all hell breaks loose in the media. But a left wing comedian can pretty much skate on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER: We are dealing with a culture that is in its medieval era. It comes from a hate-filled holly book, the Koran, which is taken very literally by its people. They are trying to get nuclear weapons. I don't think Tim McVeigh would ever have tried to get a nuclear weapon because I think right wing nuts, they think they love this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: All right. Now reaction from the media about that, zero. Nothing. And even Congressman Keith Ellison who was on in the discussion was tepid in his response to the attack on the Koran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Bill, I think that you should investigate this issue a little more because I think that you're lumping together things that shouldn't be lumped together. And you're casting a very wide net and, therefore, coming to the wrong conclusions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: He was talking to Bill -- Bill Maher. Imagine if it was Bill O'Reilly who that said that to Congressman Ellison which I had him on last week, the response would have been different.
Joining us now from Washington to analyze: Fox Newsmanalysts Mary Katharine Ham and Juan Williams.
Juan all you said was you get a little nervous seeing a Muslim at the airport getting on a plane. Maher calls the Koran a hate-filled holy book, NPR should be doing hours on this, should it not?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hours, days. I mean literally, if I said something like that -- wait a second, forget me, what if Bill O'Reilly had something like that.
O'REILLY: I would have been out of there. I would have been --
WILLIAMS: They would have stripped you in public, man. They would have tied you to the pillar and be whipping you and stoning you. That's what would happen to you.
O'REILLY: You bet. So why Juan, why is this -- now look, before I let Juan answer, I do have two reasons which may take the edge off this.
Number one, Mr. Maher's program is on HBO. It's on during the weekend. I don't know how well-watched it is.
Number two with the Japanese intrusion on cable news, everybody is paying attention to that, this takes on a lesser importance. So, that might be two reasons why nobody is involved with this, Juan.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it's also important to say here that, you know, there is oftentimes excuses made for Bill Maher because people say oh, he is a comedian. But that's a show in which he has serious people like Congressman Ellison on, he's having a discussion --
WILLIAMS: And he describes the Koran as a hate-filled document. Now, if you, Bill O'Reilly, you are doing an information show here, and if you said it, I don't think they would say oh, you know, that's just Bill O'Reilly,he's a big personality. No, they would say that's a news show and you would be held responsible.
O'REILLY: Some people think I'm a comedian, Mary Katharine. I mean I have heard that before. I'm a joke. Isn't that the same thing as a comedian? I'm a joke? What's your theory about why Maher skates about this?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's clearly double standard. Partly because I think mostly because is he a liberal. He is allowed to say these things even in front of Keith Ellison. I think the irony is that Keith Ellison who broke down into tears at the hearing that Representative Peter King held the other day he hears something far more broad-brushed and far more mean and sort of about Islam than anything he heard at the hearing the other day. And it's just sort of like well, let's have a conversation about this.
But Bill Maher actually succeeded in saying something actually politically incorrect this time instead of the liberal orthodox he usually labels as politically incorrect.
O'REILLY: Well, I thought Mr. Ellison's tepid response was interesting too which is why I noted this because somebody said to me the New Testament of the Bible is hate-filled which is dangerous to the world I pretty much would take exception to that and have a much more spirited response than Mr. Ellison did, Juan.
And I'm saying does Maher -- does he intimidate the congressman and other left wingers because they are not expecting this from one of their own?
WILLIAMS: No because -- no, the last part of your statement is the precise (INAUDIBLE) that I'd offer you, Bill, he is one of their own. So, therefore, you know what? You get a pass. You know what?
Yes, maybe, Bill, you are just going off a little bit. You are off. You need to investigate it more. You need to look into it more but they don't attack him. They don't question his credibility. Remember, he said it was a hate-filled document.
I hope everybody hears that. I mean because if I had said that, boy, all hell. But hate-filled document and remember, that when you are talking about people like Major Nidal Hasan, the guy who did the shooting at Fort Hood; when you are talking about the Times Square bomber, I could go on. They all cite the Koran. So Maher is using that as a basis. And Keith Ellison doesn't engage in the debate. He just says you are just a little off. You should reconsider.
O'REILLY: Yes. I thought it was a little wimpy, I mean with all due respect to the congressman.
Now, the other thing that makes this a very interesting thing, Mary Katharine, is that it isn't politically based. Maher's statement is not politically based. He just hates all religions. You know that. He's an atheist. He hates all religions. It could be any religion. If it's in the spotlight, he's going to take an axe to it.
I don't think Ellison processed that. I could be wrong.
But when you hear Maher say this stuff, it isn't at any political belief. It's an anti-religious across the board belief. Let Mary Katharine wrap it up for us.
HAM: Yes. I think what's going on here is that he is getting a double standard. And the fact is -- what I kind of like about the political incorrectness of the discussion is that political correctness is what prevents us from seeing the actual real conflict between moderate and fundamentalist forces in Islam and facing up to that.
And Keith Ellison himself, facing up to that and saying we have a problem that we need to fix. You heard at that hearing the other day real Muslims dealing with this problem in their communities. People were freaking out so much about the political correctness that they couldn't hear those stories and I think we need to hear them and deal with that.
O'REILLY: Well, you know, just like the Christian religion and the Jewish religion, there are a lot of different interpretations of the scripture. You know, there are fundamentalists Christians and then there are Christians who don't take it literally, they take it as a metaphor.
WILLIAMS: Yes, but don't use that as an excuse because those terrorists are talking --
O'REILLY: I'm not using it as excuse.
WILLIAMS: Jihad -- I mean they're not talking about a personal journey. They are talking about killing me and you.
O'REILLY: There are peaceful Muslims, Juan, I think you would agree with me. They read the Koran --
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. Most Muslims.
O'REILLY: -- and they are not incited to blow anybody up.
WILLIAMS: No, I just -- I was just picking up on Mary Katharine's point that you have to be honest about the fact that people are using that document as justification for violent action.
O'REILLY: There's no doubt about it. All right. Thanks very much for a good discussion
HAM: Only if you are a liberal though.
Of course, O'Reilly, Williams, and Ham were quite right. If any conservative said what Maher did Friday evening, he or she would have been pilloried and excoriated by the Left. Ditto if any conservative host had questioned Ellison that way.
The double standard here is astounding, but sadly not at all surprising.