CBS Defends Ben Affleck Following Battle With Bill Maher Over Radical Islam

On Friday night, Ben Affleck appeared on HBO's Real Time w/ Bill Maher and participated in a heated debate with fellow liberal Bill Maher over radical Islam’s influence on the Muslim world.

Following the highly contentious fight, Monday’s CBS This Morning did its best to defend Affleck, portraying him as a well-respected liberal who “is known not only as an actor and Oscar-winning producer but also as the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, promoting the area’s economic and social development.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell began the segment by heaping praise on Affleck’s latest film and proclaimed that he “had a very good weekend at the box office. His new film Gone Girl came in number one taking in 38 million dollars. But this morning a real life drama is grabbing some attention.”  

O'Donnell then turned to reporter John Blackstone who played up the “liberal dose of highly charged political fireworks” over whether or not criticism of radical Islam constitutes criticism of the entire Muslim faith.

The CBS reporter then showed a lengthy clip of the back-and-forth between Maher and Affleck:

SAM HARRIS: I'm not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as people and that’s a problem.  

BEN AFFLECK: That's big of you. 

BILL MAHER: But why are you so hostile about this concept? 

AFFLECK: It's gross, it's racist. 

MAHER: But it's so not. It's so not. 

AFFLECK: It's like saying you're a shifty Jew. 

MAHER: You’re not listening to what we are saving.

Blackstone's report continued by portraying Affleck as a well-respected liberal compared to the more controversial Bill Maher:

Bill Maher is no stranger to controversy. He produced Religulous, a documentary critical of organized religion. And shortly after 9/11 Bill said this on his show Politically Incorrect “staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, not cowardly.”  

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Affleck is known not only as an actor and Oscar-winning producer but also as the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, promoting the area’s economic and social development. 

As Blackstone’s report concluded, the CBS reporter made sure to reassure his audience that there was no bad blood between the two liberals:

His publicist told CBS News that Affleck had no hard feelings. His sources said “everyone hung out after taping the show and had a great time together. I think they left the argument on the field.”

The segment ended with co-host Gayle King eagerly gushing over Affleck by promoting the actor’s views one final time:

It makes me want to go back and look at the whole thing. I thought Ben Affleck was raising some really good points. You just can’t paint everybody with the same brush. It was also good to hear that after everybody still went out and said, okay.

See relevant transcript below.

CBS This Morning

October 6, 2014

NORAH O’DONNELL: Ben Affleck had a very good weekend at the box office. His new film Gone Girl came in number one taking in 38 million dollars. But this morning a real life drama is grabbing some attention. John Blackstone shows us the testy exchange between Affleck and Bill Maher on live television. 

JOHN BLACKSTONE: You might call it a liberal dose of highly charged political fireworks. The debate on Real Time with Bill Maher was sparked by a guest, author Sam Harris. 

SAM HARRIS: We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. That’s when things got heated.

BEN AFFLECK: You're saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing that if you’re critical of something—

BILL MAHER: Well, it's not a real thing when we do it. 

AFFLECK: Right.

MAHER: It really isn't. 

HARRIS: I'm not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as people and that’s a problem.  

AFFLECK: That's big of you. 

MAHER: But why are you so hostile about this concept? 

AFFLECK: It's gross, it's racist. 

MAHER: But it's so not. It's so not. 

AFFLECK: It's like saying you're a shifty Jew. 

MAHER: You’re not listening to what we are saving.

BLACKSTONE: It was a rare sight on national television. Two well-known liberals at odds over the limits over their beliefs. 

AFFLECK: How about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don't punish women, who just want to go to school have some sandwiches and don’t do all of the things that you’re saying? You’re stereotyping. You take a few bad things and you’re painting the whole religion with that same brush.

BLACKSTONE: Bill Maher is no stranger to controversy. He produced Religulous, a documentary critical of organized religion. And shortly after 9/11, Bill said this on his show Politically Incorrect “staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, not cowardly.”  

AFFLECK: How about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical—

BLACKSTONE: Affleck is known not only as an actor and Oscar-winning producer but also as the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, promoting the area’s economic and social development. His publicist told CBS News that Affleck had no hard feelings. His sources said “everyone hung out after taping the show and had a great time together. I think they left the argument on the field.” “But while it lasted, what a field day it was. 

MAHER: I mean if Filipinos we're capturing teenagers and sending them into white slavery we would criticize that, we wouldn’t say, well they’re Filipinos.  

MAHER: You criticize the people who are doing it, not the Philippines. 

BLACKSTONE: For CBS This Morning, John Blackstone, San Francisco.

GAYLE KING: It makes me want to go back and look at the whole thing. I thought Ben Affleck was raising some really good points. You just can’t paint everybody with the same brush. It was also good to hear that after everybody still went out and said, okay.

CHARLIE ROSE: It was.

O’DONNELL: You mean debate left on the field?  

KING: Yeah.

O’DONNELL: Yeah, they can have an argument.

ROSE: And held their own positions I’m sure.

KING: Yeah, I was going to say and nobody backed down. 

Religion Islam CBS CBS This Morning Ben Affleck Gayle King Charlie Rose Norah O'Donnell Bill Maher John Blackstone

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