Senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod has canceled an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that was originally scheduled for later this month.
“He’s not scheduled to go on at this time,” says Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, indicating that while this appearance has been scotched, Axelrod or others from the campaign might appear on the HBO show in the future.
After the fallout from Rush Limbaugh’s crass insults of Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, conservatives began arguing that there was a double standard, with Democrats (and the media) far more tolerant when liberal media figures use crass words to describe Republican women, Maher being Exhibit A in their case. (David Letterman, on whose show First Lady Michelle Obama will soon appear, is Exhibit B.)
In the midst of this, the comedian Louis CK recently pulled out as entertainer at the Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner. This followed criticisms — and a threatened boycott by Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren — over the comedian’s past use of offensive language about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
On one level, the influence Rush Limbaugh wields among conservatives cannot be compared to that of any comedian. But Maher also recently took the step of donating $1 million to the pro-Obama Super-PAC.
Palin, who has been on the receiving end of many of Maher’s insults — a “c” word was once invoked, in his stand-up act — has joined with other Republicans calling for the president to demand that money to be returned. That hasn’t happened, but there appears to be sufficient heat around this issue, Axelrod felt compelled to cancel his ticket to Los Angeles.
News that Axelrod was withdrawing from this appearance was first reported by Politico’s Mike Allen.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for HBO, who declined to be named, insists that Axelrod was never firm-booked for Maher’s show. “We don’t consider anybody confirmed until the Wednesday before our Friday show because guest schedules frequently change,” the source told ABC News when asked about Axelrod’s “cancellation.”
Axelrod, who has never been a guest on Maher’s show, had been under consideration for a taping sometime in the next few weeks, sources familiar with the situation said. He remains on the list as a potential guest in the future.