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 TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations 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 RomneyTrump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals 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.
“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 ClintonTrump defends indicted GOP congressman GOP lawmaker says he expects to be indicted over FBI investigation Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on 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.