Bill Maher launched an unexpected attack on Tom Brokaw Monday, accusing the NBC veteran of helping keep the birther myth about President Obama alive by favoring "balance over objectivity" about the issue.
In a post on his blog, Maher mentioned Chris Matthews' infamous argument with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus during the Republican convention in Tampa. Matthews tore into Priebus for what he said were race-baiting attacks against Obama -- in particular, Mitt Romney's joke about his birth certificate, which Matthews viewed as a clear wink to the birther crowd.
Maher praised Matthews for going after Priebus. But he harshly criticized Brokaw for saying he thought Romney was displaying his "awkward sense of humor" rather than anything more sinister. (Brokaw did say that Republicans should have stepped in when people started calling Obama a Muslim or un-American, but that "it comes the other way, by the way, from the Democrats to the Republicans as well.")
Maher said this was "bullshit," and that Brokaw was contributing to the continuation of birtherism:
How did it grow to the point where half of Republican primary voters believed it? It wasn't just the silence of Republican leaders, it was the failure of people like Tom Brokaw to just dismiss it as racism from the beginning. People like him are always championing "balance" over objectivity. They have to bring everything back to a discussion about how "both sides" are guilty, instead of doing his job as a referee. If every single journalist just simply labeled birtherism what it obviously is -- racism -- the cancer wouldn't have infected half the party. Maybe 25% or so, but most would be like, "Okay, this isn't socially respectable."