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MSNBC used to run this thing, ‘This is who we are,’ ” Bill Maher said Friday during his panel session on HBO’s Real Time, referring to one of the cable news network’s oft-used marketing slogans. “Well, I don’t like who you were this week, and I don’t think a lot of people who work there like this either.”

Maher was talking about MSNBC’s longtime Hardball host Chris Matthews, who abruptly announced his retirement Monday at the top of what turned out to be the newsman’s final episode of his show.

“I think this cancel culture is a cancer on progressivism,” Maher said of the exit of Matthews, calling him a friend he would miss. “Liberals always have to fight a two-front war: Republicans only have to fight Democrats, Democrats have to fight Republicans and each other.”

Matthews had been left off the network’s South Carolina primary coverage over the weekend after being criticized for multiple incidents the previous week including making an analogy between Bernie Sanders’ campaign and Hitler pushing into France, and mistaking Democratic South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison with footage of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who are both African American.

Maher did admit that Matthews’ comments to a female guest who said he’d “inappropriately flirted” with her before an appearance on Hardball were “kinda creepy” (Maher’s so-what? quip that “guys are married for a million years, they want to flirt for 2 seconds…” was a wince-inducing misfired of his point). But he generally wasn’t buying that Matthews’ transgressions were exit-worthy.

That was especially true, Maher argued, about criticized for the tone of Matthews’ interview with then-presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren following the latest Democratic debate in Charleston, SC, when Warren had taken on Michael Bloomberg onstage over the alleged “Kill it” incident in which a former employee, pregnant at the time, claimed Bloomberg had suggested she have an abortion. Matthews asked her several questions afterward about whether she believed the employee.

“This sounds like every question Chris has asked,” Maher said. “And I hated being interviewed by Chris, because he would ask you a question, you’d start to answer, and then he’d keep talking. Because he had so many thoughts. I’d like some more people on TV with thoughts. A lot of people couldn’t interrupt themselves because they don’t have a thought without a producer talking in their ear.”

Maher on Friday also offered more tough talk to Democrats in his final “New Rules” rant, where he fumed about the faux purity of Dems who won’t take campaign donations from big donors and PACs. He also talked with HBO’s Succession star Brian Cox, a professed Socialist (“proud of it”) who plays a capitalist media mogul on the series.

Watch those here:


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