Hitchens Gives the Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering of Bush

Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles studio audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad “says the Messiah is about to come back.” Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way.” That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: “That's not facetious.” The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an “idiot” repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous.” Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, “Fuck you, fuck you,” while the groans continued. (Transcript follows)

Video clip (41 seconds, includes vulgarity): Real (1.2 MB) or Windows Media (1.4 MB), plus MP3 audio (250 KB)

Joining Hitchens (Wikipedia profile, a list of his articles) on the panel, Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, and former Democratic Senator Max Cleland.

Transcript of the relevant portion of the discussion about Iran on the August 25 season premiere of the weekly HBO show aired live Friday nights at 11pm EDT/10pm CDT:
Christopher Hitchens: “Who wants a Third Word War? The Iranian President says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map with all its people. He says the United States is a Satanic power. Members of his government, named members of his government have been caught sponsoring deaths squads. He's lied, he's lied to the European Union about his nuclear program-”

Bill Maher: “But you know that a lot-”

Hitchens: “He says the Messiah is about to come back. Who's looking for a war here?”

Maher: “So does George Bush, by the way [audience applause]. That's not facetious [audience applause continues].”

Hitchens: “That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous. [oohs and groans from audience, Hitchens gives them the finger] Fuck you, fuck you. [groans continue]”

Maher: “I was just saying what the President of Iran and the President of America have in common is that they both are a little too comfortable with the idea of the world coming to an end.”

Hitchens: “Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like.”

UPDATE: This edition of Maher's hour-long show will re-air (schedule page for the program) Sunday at 7pm EDT on HBO 2 East/7pm PDT on HBO 2 West; at 1:05am EDT Sunday night/Monday morning on HBO East/1:05am PDT on HBO West; and at 8pm EDT Monday night on HBO East/8pm PDT on HBO West. 

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center