Citadel Communications pulled Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect off its three ABC affiliates after Maher's controversial remarks regarding the terrorist attacks earlier in the week, and what Citadel felt was his waffling on the apology.
On Monday night's show, Maher remarked on politicians "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
Later, Maher said that "In no way was I intending to say . . . that the men and women who defend our nation in uniform are anything but courageous and valiant, and I offer my apologies to anyone who took it wrong," he said.
Maher has made numerous other appearances in which he conceded that the remarks were insensitive.
Maher has said his accusation of cowardice was directed at politicians, not servicemen or women. Maher kept a panelist chair empty last week to honor pundit Barbara Olson, a frequent PI guest who was killed on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
ABC issued a statement last week that said although the network was sensitive to the tragedy, it also believed that a forum was needed for the expression of diverse opinions.
Citadel CEO Phil Lombardo said the general managers at all three of the ABC affiliates, WOI Des Moines, KCAI, Sioux City, IA, and KLKN Lincoln, Neb. voted to pull the show "until further notice. We said, `give us a reason to reconsider this and we will. But Bill Maher is not giving them any help."
Nationally, Federal Express and Sears have pulled ads from the show, and Lombardo said his company had heard complaints about the show from both viewers and advertisers. The advertisers, he said, did not affect the company's decision, but the viewer response did play a part.
"There are times when it is appropriate to be politically incorrect," Lombardo said. "Maher's timing was just totally insensitive. As a licensee we have the right and the responsibility to pull programming that is that offensive to our community. - Dan Trigoboff
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