Maher and Shapiro spar over incivility in politics: ‘This stuff pre-existed Donald Trump’

Progressive talk-show host Bill Maher and conservative Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro sparred Friday on Maher's HBO show over which side of the political spectrum is more responsible for what they called rising levels of incivility in politics.

On "Real Time with Bill Maher," Shapiro sat down for an interview with the liberal host and argued that incivility "pre-existed Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE."

“This stuff pre-existed Donald Trump,” Shapiro told Maher. “It came from the vice president when he was saying that Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE, the cleanest person ever, OK, was the guy who was gonna ‘put y’all back in chains.’ To pretend incivility started with Donald Trump—"

The comment Shapiro referred to happened during the 2012 presidential campaign

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m not talking about incivility,” Maher interrupted. “I’m talking about the level of which it’s at.”

Shapiro later pointed to protests from liberal students at University of California, Berkeley, over his plans to speak there that forced a massive police response, saying, “I needed 600 officers to protect me at Berkeley."

Shapiro made a controversial speech at Berkeley in September of last year, at the time slamming protesters as "pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses" for claiming to protest "fascism" in his speech.

“Well if you’re talking about the civility thing, why don’t we start with the Republicans stop saying ‘Lock Her Up’?” Maher asked Shapiro, referring to the chant against former opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE that regularly breaks out at Trump rallies. “Shouldn’t the civility argument start there before we care about who gets their entrée?”

Maher continued to argue that one party's "incivility" was more powerful than the other's, saying, "you can’t walk into a room and see an elephant and a mouse and not know which one is bigger."

“But it’s not an elephant and a mouse, it’s two elephants,” Shapiro responded. 

Debates over civility raged in recent days over the treatment of members of the Trump administration in public, particularly when they dine at restaurants, after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was removed from a Virginia restaurant by the eatery's owner.