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Fleischer chastises Maher

PI host clarifies and apologies for remarks

Last week, “Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher called past U.S. missile attacks “cowardly” — and the controversy over those remarks has yet to subside.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer jumped into the fray Wednesday, calling Maher’s comment “a terrible thing to say” — although Fleischer admitted he hadn’t seen the “PI” broadcast in question or read a transcript.

Fleischer said he was relying on media reports on the controversy, which arose from a conversation Maher and panelist Dinesh D’Souza were having about whether the terrorists who staged the Sept. 11 attacks were cowards.

“We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away,” Maher said (Daily Variety, Sept. 20.) “That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

Maher has since clarified and apologized for his remarks, though his remarks clearly were not aimed at members of the U.S. military, as some crix have implied.

Official rebuke

Nonetheless, Fleischer rebuked Maher at a White House press briefing Wednesday.

“Assuming the press reports are right, it’s a terrible thing to say, and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”

Meanwhile, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s band of seven mid-market ABC affils continue to boycott “PI.” Stations cover 4.3% of the country’s TV viewers.

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