William Maher, Jr. (1956- ) is an American television personality, comedian, and political commentator. He currently hosts a late night talk show Real Time With Bill Maher on the television channel HBO.
He is noted for his caustic and outspoken style. His guests included figures from different positions on the ideological spectrum, such as former Vermontese governor Howard Dean, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, and military commander Gen. Wesley Clark.
Maher was born in New York, but grew up in New Jersey. He attended the Cornell University and began his career as a comedian in a Chinese restaurant. He then performed in various television shows and sitcoms. In 1993, the channel Comedy Central granted him to host Politically Incorrect', which was exceptionally successful. In 1997 the show was moved to ABC.
In September, 2001, after the tragic September 11th terrorist attack Maher made a comment arguing that the the American troops who launch missiles to terrorist camps exhibited more cowardice than the terrorists. The comment was seen as controversial. Many companies pulled their advertisement from the show and Maher was denounced by the White House Secretary Ari Fleischer. ABC canceled the show under immense pressure.
He was then hired by HBO to host Real Time with Bill Maher, which is still being aired weekly to this day. Both Politically Incorrect and Real Time with Bill Maher have been nominated for the Emmy Award.
Issues and positions
Bill Maher describes himself as a libertarian, and supports libertarian positions such as privatization of Social Security and legalization of marijuana. On foreign policy he was a staunch opponent of the policies of President George W. Bush, especially on the War in Iraq. However, his commitment of libertarianism has been questioned and criticized by some for inconsistency. In 2009, Maher has advocated strongly against large corporations like Citibank and Bank of America and in support of Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans, including the plan for a public option.
Many skeptics, atheists and secularists have widely criticised Maher's take on medicine, alternative medicine, vaccination and the pharmaceutical industry, especially since Atheist Alliance International announced that Maher would receive the Richard Dawkins Award for his movie Religulous. Maher claims, rather paradoxically, that vaccines for things like influenza do not work, but then criticises the movement of people who oppose the human papilloma virus vaccine Gardasil, and also makes claims about the success of alternative treatment in cancer treatment compared to conventional medicine
Maher authored and co-authored several books, including the political book When You Ride Alone You Ride with bin Laden (ISBN 1597775134) and novel True Story (ISBN 0743291352).
- Bruce Newman, "9/11's impact on pop culture has been wide, but not deep", San Jose Mercury News Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, September 7th, 2006. (retrieved from Proquest)
- Bill Maher - Libertarian(?), Advocates for Self-Government
- Dann Halem, Is Bill Maher a libertarian?, Salon, August 1, 2001.
- For examples of the criticism, see Bill Maher gets the Richard Dawkins Award? That's like Jenny McCarthy getting an award for public health, Is Bill Maher really that ignorant? Part 2 and Ask Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins some questions at the AAI Conference this weekend! on Respectful Insolence and The Maher Conundrum on Pharyngula.