It should be lost on no-one that comedians are now performing much of the heavy lifting that journalists are supposed to be doing. Over to Real Time host Bill Maher, for a master class in how to interview the alt-right.
The furore earlier this month over Sarah Ferguson’s interview with alt-right icon Steven Bannon – the sacked former chief strategist to Donald Trump and the architect of his successful presidential campaign – may have died down, but that hasn’t dulled the desire of some on the left to demand that people with extreme views should be ‘no platformed’.
That is, anyone who expresses extreme, conservative views should be prevented from airing them in public.
That theory took a hit this weekend, after American comedian turned television host Bill Maher – a controversial figure on the left – demonstrated why listening to your ideological enemies (and challenging them robustly) can be a highly productive exercise.
Before we bring you the clip of Maher and Bannon – which is, admittedly, more debate than interview – it’s worth briefly explaining what was actually wrong with the ABC’s coverage of Bannon.
Ferguson wasn’t wrong to do the interview, as many have suggested. Bannon is an extremely powerful figure in US and global politics, and his views should be of great interest to everyone, particularly the left. It’s just that the interview itself was poorly done. There are so many moments where Bannon makes outrageously challengeable points, and Ferguson just nods politely.
The third question in provides a blaring case in point: Ferguson asks Bannon whether or not he can rely on “fear and anger” again to win the upcoming mid-term elections. Bannon’s replies: “I’m not so sure it’s fear and anger as rationality. I think working class people and middle class people in this country, realize something’s wrong, that upon their shoulders rest the entire tax burden….”
Remember the tax cuts that Trump recently delivered? The ones trumpeted by his administration as the greatest achievement so far of the Trump presidency? They overwhelmingly went to the rich, a point Maher makes in stunning fashion in the following lesson in how to interview a sharp, alt-right political pundit. Enjoy.
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