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On Friday’s episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the host defended Washington Commanders (formerly the Washington Redskins) defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s right to his “s—ty take” about the January 6 Capitol riot.
Last Wednesday, Del Rio criticized what he saw as over-hyped media coverage of the January 6 Committee hearings.
In a fateful statement to reporters after practice, Del Rio referred to the Capitol Riot as a “dust-up at the Capitol” that people are making a “major deal” as opposed to the riots following the 2020 death of George Floyd, which he claimed people had “no problem” with.
After the statement, Head Coach Ron Rivera tweeted about his disappointment with Del Rio’s “extremely hurtful” statement and announced that, even though Del Rio apologized, he “decided to fine Coach Del Rio $100,000.” Del Rio shortly deleted his Twitter account after the incident.
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Though Maher and his Friday night guests, liberal commentator Krystal Ball and conservative author James Kerchick expressed that Del Rio’s punishment was too tough.
Maher started the topic, explaining what Del Rio said, and mentioned that although he doesn’t agree with it, “this is a very common view that he has.”
Maher continued, “I would like to, if I could talk to Mr. Del Rio, I think I could probably hopefully convince him a little bit that it was more than a dust-up. He also compares it a lot to the 2020 protests that were going on after the George Floyd murder. Okay.”
Maher added that he could have a debate with Del Rio but all the while he would still respect the defensive coach’s “right to be wrong.” He stated, “I think I could also convince him there are really important differences between those two things. And actually, the attack on the Capitol was worse. Nevertheless, he has a right to be wrong. In America, you have the right to be wrong.”
“They fined him, the team fined him, $100,000 for this opinion. Fining people for an opinion. I am not down with that,” Maher declared.
The HBO host slammed Coach Rivera’s claim that Del Rio “does have the right to voice his opinion as a citizen,” remarking, “Apparently not! You know what? This is the don’t pee on my shoe and tell me it’s raining. What the f— are you talking about? He doesn’t have a right to an opinion. And it’s obviously not his right to do so.”
“So either say you’re against free speech, but don’t tell me this,” he added.
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Kerchick responded, stating, “No, it’s absurd. And he should be allowed to express his opinion and people should be allowed to criticize him for it.”
Ball chimed in as well, saying, “People can have s—ty takes. You know, it’s not a crime to have a s—ty take.”
Maher responded in kind, “To have a s—ty take is not a crime.”
Appearing on CNN’s New Day Tuesday morning, sportscaster Bob Costas defended Del Rio from harsh treatment as well, alleging he’s the victim of a double standard. He stated, “Del Rio did not make a thoughtful comment… still, a lot of players have said a lot of dumb things on Twitter or in other public forums, regardless of which side of the aisle they may fall on.”
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“So, do we wind up on a slippery slope? We only sanction the Del Rios of the world, but we don’t sanction those who come from a direction we more or less approve of?” Costas asked.