Real Time host Bill Maher poked fun at the amount of coverage devoted to figures like Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, telling MSNBC's Chris Hayes that every minute spent talking about them distracted people from more important causes.
"ESPN seems to have found their Malaysian plane," Maher said, later adding, "If we were really talking about what's important, the headline -- and it would be a banner headline in the newspaper every day and every blog -- that basically says, 'The planet is dying and the icecaps are melting, we must do something very, very soon or we're all going to die.'"
Hayes, who described the separate uproars surrounding each story as part of a series of "outrage brushfires" more prevalent in the modern media climate, told Maher that there's something about individual inflammatory remarks that captures the imagination in a way that talking about Sterling paying a record settlement over his racially-biased business practices does not.
"It's an opportunity for self-congratulation," Maher said. "It's an opportunity for people to [say], 'I'm one of the good people, because I think this guy has got to go.' Well, yeah, we all agree that this guy is a bad guy but there are not that many opportunities anymore for a lot of people to contribute to society. So they feel like one way they can contribute to society is by making bad people go away."
Neither Hayes nor Maher mentioned that the public furor over Sterling's racist remarks toward girlfriend V. Stiviano led to several sponsors opting to sever their relationship with the Clippers even before Sterling was banned for life from the NBA Tuesday morning.
Maher did bristle, however, when Hayes played a clip from last week's episode of Real Time in which Maher mentioned "political correctness Nazis" annoying people into voting Republican against their own best interests.
"Did you think this was one of those situations or is this one of those situations that was so far over the line that it doesn't strike you as some kind of liberal PC witch hunt?" Hayes asked.
"Let me first say that you took a three-and-a-half minute editorial I did -- most of which was not about the subject you showed -- and when you show it out of context, it doesn't really make any sense," Maher chided, before explaining that the point of that monologue was to show how he felt Republicans kept themselves in positions of power by cheating and by taking advantage of "cultural resentment."
"The Republicans are brilliant at getting heartlanders, mostly, probably, these kind of unimportant things that come up with liberals but that get them to vote against their own interest," Maher continued.
Watch Hayes' interview with Maher, as aired on Tuesday on MSNBC, below.