Sense, not censorship

Though the term “censorship” should solely be reserved for attempts by governments to restrict free speech, it’s especially unsuitable to use it in connection with with the cancellation of Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

First, there’s little evidence for the contention that the show is being cancelled because of Maher’s post-Sept. 11 comment that U.S. aerial actions were “cowardly.” ABC had already shown its desire to redo its late-night lineup by attempting to lure Letterman, and “Politically Incorrect’s” ratings have been declining for a while now. Hiring Jimmy Kimmel fits in perfectly with ABC’s plans to go for a younger, broader audience with a show that will compete for Craig Kilborn‘s frat-boy audience.

And the brutal truth is that “Politically Incorrect” stopped being funny years ago. I remember going to a taping in 1996 during the Democratic National Convention, and the show was lively and funny, thanks especially to the contributions of “strange bedfellows” Al Franken and Arianna Huffington. But in the years since, “Politically Incorrect” became extremely tiresome.

Maher always had three Hollywood showbiz types matched up against some witless, unattractive, unfunny conservative. The three Hollywood folks and Maher would spend most of the half hour haranguing the poor conservative. So the show consisted of not especially informed Hollywood types rehashing views they already agreed about in between commercial breaks and wisecracks from Maher.

From the very beginning, the notion that showbiz types made for interesting conversationalists — especially regarding current affairs — was an especially dubious proposition. It worked for a while, out of pure novelty, but had long since run out of gas. ABC needed no excuses to “censor” Bill Maher or his show. All any disinterested observer had to do was watch the thing to see why they wanted to axe it.

As a side note, Maher often claimed to be a libertarian because he agreed with the libertarian view on drugs, pornography and prostitution, but he was far from it, as the LP News pointed out a while ago. So on top of everything else, Maher wasn’t even bright enough to correctly label his political affiliation. Good riddance, Bill. Maybe you should try the movies again. Isn’t it about time for a sequel to “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death“?