Television

Bill Maher, who aided Yiannopoulos’ fall, also defended sex with children

Bill Maher, left, and Milo Yiannopoulos on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Feb. 17.
Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP
Bill Maher, left, and Milo Yiannopoulos on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Feb. 17.

Comedian Bill Maher felt proud of himself after the downfall of former Breitbart editor and alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Last Friday, Yiannopoulos appeared on ‘‘Real Time with Bill Maher.’’ Days later, Yiannopoulos lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, had his invitation to speak at CPAC rescinded and publicly resigned from Breitbart after a series of videos surfaces in which Yiannopoulos appears to be condoning sexual relationships between adults and children as young as 13-years-old.

Though the two didn’t discuss adult sex with children during the segment, Maher took some credit for Yiannopoulos’ downfall.

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‘‘As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant,’’ he said during an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday. ‘‘You’re welcome.’’

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But in the wake of Yiannopoulos’ downfall, Maher’s self-righteousness has been undercut by a video of the comedian himself defending adults having sex with minors.

Even before the clip surfaced, Maher’s booking of Yiannopoulos invited a good bit of criticism. Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill canceled his appearance on the show.

At the time, Maher defended the booking, saying in a statement, ‘‘Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims - and he might be - nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.’’

What Yiannopoulos’s appearance really seemed to have done is lead to Maher’s former comments being exposed.

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The clip was published to YouTube on Wednesday and has quickly amassed more than 100,000 views. It shows a 1998 segment from his former show ‘‘Politically Correct with Bill Maher,’’ in which Maher defends Mary Kay Letourneau to a panel that includes Lisa Montgomery Kennedy, Henry Rollins, Celeste Greig and Cedric the Entertainer.

For those who may not remember, Letourneau was a 34-year-old Seattle teacher who had an ongoing sexual relationship with a student when he was 12 years old. She also gave birth to two of his children, one of them while incarcerated. After spending several years in prison, she married the student.

In the clip, Maher said Letourneau was in jail ‘‘for being in love.’’

He continued, ‘‘I admit that it’s unorthodox. She’s 35, the boy is 14. He was younger when they started. But she is pregnant again. That was the story this week. This is the second child by this boy. They are keeping the mother in jail because she won’t conform to what society feels should be the perfect American family.’’

Later in the clip, when Greig called the act rape, Maher responded, ‘‘How can a woman rape a man?’’

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He also outright dismissed Rollins when he said, ‘‘I think that kid’s gonna grow up fairly damaged.’’

His views weren’t a slip of the tongue, either.

Maher later doubled-down on his argument in a 2007 interview with Playboy, saying:

‘‘I think it’s a little offbeat, but you know, I believe in the double standard. If a 28-year-old male teacher is screwing a 13-year-old girl, that’s a crime. But with Debra Lafave [another teacher who had a sexual relationship with her student] screwing her 14-year-old boy student, the crime is that we didn’t get it on videotape. Was he being taken advantage of? I wish I had been taken advantage of like that. What a memory she gave him. I would think he’s a champion among his friends. Are you kidding? Even with Michael Jackson.’’

These comments closely mirror those of Yiannopoulos, who said in one of the released clips, ‘‘Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming-of-age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents.’’

Neither HBO or Maher has responded to requests for comment from The Hollywood Reporter.