Bill Maher came to Laura Ingraham's defense on Friday night, explaining why he considered it un-American to boycott the Fox News host.
The TV host surprised both his panel and studio audience on "Real Time with Bill Maher," when he said that he considered it bullying to ask advertisers to boycott Ingraham after her comments against Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.
"I want to defend Laura Ingraham," Maher told the audience. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but it has to do with the Parkland kids and guns and free speech."
"Now I think those kids did a great thing, they put this issue in a place we've never had it before and I wish them success," the host continued.
Although he said he thinks Ingraham is a "deliberately terrible person" who says "horrible things," Maher didn't think an ad boycott was the answer. "Really? Is that American?" Maher asked the crowd, many of whom shouted "yes!" in response.
"He complains about bullying? That's bullying!" Maher continued. "I have been the victim of a boycott...I've lost a job as a result. It is wrong. You shouldn't do this by team, you should do it by principle."
Maher's panel of guests agreed with the audience, beginning to argue with the host.
"Boycotting is part of free speech," began former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D). "Saying, 'I don't want to work with that person. Saying I will not buy a product from that person.' That's speech."
But the HBO host wasn't backing down, questioning why, after all the things Ingraham has said in her career, "this is the straw that broke the camel's back." He also said the boycott created a "chilling atmosphere" and described it as a "modern way of cutting out free speech."
Ingraham was under fire for comments she made in response to Hogg's tweet about getting rejected from multiple colleges.
David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates.) https://t.co/wflA4hWHXY
Ingram later apologized, though Hogg said he did not accept it.
Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA —incl. @DavidHogg111. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David...(1/2)
I 100% agree an apology in an effort just to save your advertisers is not enough. I will only accept your apology only if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and I️ in this fight. It's time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children. https://t.co/H0yWs4zMGk