Bill Maher flunks history during free speech debate with head of Breitbart News

Among the most admirable and reliable qualities of Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” are his pointed intellect and relentless attention to detail. The man really does his homework.

At least he did before Friday.

In a segment on free speech, Maher demonstrated a lack of preparedness when he and Breitbart News Network editor in chief Alex Marlow discussed how Delta Air Lines and Bank of America pulled corporate funding from the New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Ceasar,” in which a Caesar clearly modeled after President Trump is brutally stabbed and assassinated.

The right-wing Breitbart News raised the first loud outcry with a headline “’Trump' stabbed to death in Central Park Performance of 'Julius Caesar.” Fox News also expressed outrage.

On “Real Time,” Maher said he understood the furor. “If [President] Obama was Julius Caesar and he got stabbed, I think liberals would be angry about that,” Maher said.

“Absolutely,” Marlow said. “It would be bedlam in the media.” He compared the staged killing to Kathy Griffin’s controversial in which she help up a bloody mock-up of Trump’s decapitated head.

“I really think they should not have Trump playing Julius Caesar and getting stabbed,” Maher said.

But supporters of the Public Theater have pointed out in the wake of the controversy that a 2012 production of "Julius Caesar" at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater cast the tyrant as a tall, lanky African American with a resemblance to Barack Obama, and that sponsors of that venue, including Delta Air Lines, did not object.

Other theater historians say that past Caesars have resembled former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Reagan and Lincoln.

greg.braxton@latimes.com

Twitter:@GeBraxton

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