Did CBS Censor Bill Maher?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 26, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, a new feature on the CBS News program, Katie Couric has daily commentary by guest analysts. A few weeks ago, Bill Maher started the HBO program "Real Time." Contacted by CBS, according to reports, to deliver a commentary, but it didn't work out.

Maher joins us now from L.A.

Now, look, I always want to straighten out the record, because I don't believe anything I read in the press. But it was reported here in New York that you wanted to do something on religion and they didn't want you. What happened?

BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME": I don't know. And I'm a little tired of talking about it. But, yes.

Look, I think they should drop the segment, because it was billboarded as free speech, and every night I watch it because I am a devotee of the evening news. You know, I love to watch the guys at 6:30 and now the guys and the gal.

But it's a little disappointing when they say we're going to have free speech and then every night it's the most agreed upon speech you could ever imagine.

Last night they had someone who took the stand and said it was good to have football back in New Orleans. He did not care who disagreed.

O'REILLY: That's an outrage.

MAHER: Well, that's not really — that's an outrage. It's not free speech.

O'REILLY: So what you're saying is they chickened out. You're saying they chickened out. They didn't want bomb throwers like you going in there and saying something about religion. They want guys to say it's good to have football in New Orleans. OK, and I believe you. I mean, that's the way they run the network news operations.

MAHER: It's like the Bush administration. Let's not and say we did.

O'REILLY: OK. How many anti-Bush stuff do you want to take? You got one. You want, what, six or seven more? OK, now.

MAHER: I don't know. I'm sure if you ask me a question it will come up.

O'REILLY: Yes, I'm shocked. I'm going to give you a chance now to tell millions of people all over the world what you wanted to say about religion on CBS, but you only have about 30 seconds. Go.

MAHER: Well, I probably would have said that I'm only the last in a long line of people to speak out against organized religion and to say that it's dangerous and a mass psychosis. And all you have to do is look around the world from story to story to story to understand that.

I mean, why is Iraq falling apart? Why couldn't we get anything done in Iraq? It's because there are two religious sects who are basically at each other's throats because of a succession from the prophet in the Seventh Century.

O'REILLY: I got it. OK, that's pretty interesting. So Mother Teresa is a psychotic?

MAHER: That's right, Bill. Load the issue with Mother Teresa.

O'REILLY: I believe she was a religious person.


O'REILLY: I believe that Catholic charities are in every country in the world, healing the sick and working with the poor.

MAHER: Can I answer your question?



O'REILLY: Absolutely.

MAHER: OK. There's nothing Mother Teresa or charities are doing that they couldn't do without the silliness of religion attached to it.

O'REILLY: But they do it because Christianity says love your brother, help the poor. This is a philosophy.

MAHER: And that's...

O'REILLY: Isn't that great? Isn't that good? Go ahead.

MAHER: And that's a wonderful sentiment. Jesus as a philosopher is wonderful. There's no greater role model, in my view, than Jesus Christ. It's just a shame that most of the people who follow him and call themselves Christians act nothing like him.

O'REILLY: Most of them? Most Christians are bad?

MAHER: In this country. Well, most Christians don't act Christ-like.


MAHER: If they would call themselves Christ-likes instead of Christians, maybe it would remind them to act like Jesus.

O'REILLY: OK, so the 65 million Catholics in this country, 85 percent of the population is Christian, 300 million of us, and most of them aren't doing a good job in their Christianity. Is that what you're saying?

MAHER: Well, most people who are religious in this country are like the cafeteria Catholics. They pick and choose from the religious parts that they want to follow.

The ones that make the headlines, the evangelical Christians, are usually the ones who are behind everything that represents intolerance and bigotry. I notice, for example, that they're very often the ones who are hardest on drug use.

It's very hard for me to imagine Jesus Christ going up to a medical marijuana sufferer and taking the joint out of his mouth and saying, "Good luck with your bone marrow disease, but that's a very bad method..."

O'REILLY: Jesus would never do that. You know why? He'd just cure the guy.

MAHER: Yes, I do.

O'REILLY: He'd just cure him. And you know, right away he wouldn't have any use for any medicine.

OK, Maher, now listen. You know you're coming across as a bigot, an anti-Christian bigot, because nobody can possibly make a judgment about that many people that they're not good Christians.

I'm just pointing it out, because you and I go back a long way, all right? And I don't think you're a bigot. I don't.

MAHER: I'm not a bigot.

O'REILLY: But I think you come across as a bigot. Here's a very specific question. Your fellow traveler in the world of atheism is Rosie O'Donnell. On her program she says evangelical Christians are just as bad as these fanatical Muslim killers. Do you subscribe...

MAHER: I disagree with that.

O'REILLY: Oh, my God.

MAHER: I disagree with that completely. That's right. Because one reason why the west is superior, in my view, as far as tolerance is because, yes, we have preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who in my view say crazy things, but nobody takes them that seriously here.

In Saudi Arabia they speak out against homosexuals and then they chop off their heads. Government sanctioned beheadings in chop-chop square in Mecca. OK. We don't chop off their heads, certainly not government sanctioned, in this country.

O'REILLY: Good point.

Thank you for being on the program, as always.

MAHER: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Watch "Real Time with Bill Maher.

MAHER: That's it?

O'REILLY: Do the Christian thing. Give Bill a break and watch his program.

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