If you've been living under a rock, Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, a slut, a whore and a prostitute for testifying before Congress in favor of employers being required to cover insurance for contraception. Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a cunt because, well, because she's Sarah Palin. Now, quite a few conservative minded people are calling on the FCC to take Maher off the air.
The petition is located here, if you wish to sign it.
Here's the thing; the FCC was created to regulate BROADCAST media over PUBLIC airwaves. Cable is neither broadcast nor public.
1. HBO is a cable subscription service. It is not under the jurisdiction of the FCC. It can show hardcore porn if it wants (and nearly does).
2. No one is trying to get Rush booted off the air. Rush's advertisers and sponsors have withdrawn their support because they disagree with his behavior. This is the free market at work.
3. Bill Maher bashed Sarah Palin, a public figure, because of things she said. Rush bashed Sandra Fluke, a private citizen, because of things she is not. While arguments can be made for or against the tastefulness of either incident, they are not the same and equating the two is a false proposition.
4. There is no apology from HBO because HBO likely does not care. Similarly, there is no apology from Clear Channel because it's likely that Clear Channel doesn't care. Neither station has apologized, only Rush has apologized. The fallacy is in comparing a cable station (HBO) with Rush Limbaugh (a radio program and personality). This really should've been pointed at Bill Maher and questioning why he does not apologize. And, consequently, the reason why he does not apologize is probably because he does not care.
5. There is no conspiracy to protect Bill Maher's vitriol from being front page news. Bill Maher actually has been confronted over his controversial views toward conservative females, sometimes in person and on the air (and you really have to give it up for Elizabeth Hasselbeck for getting out the claws for this one). Furthermore, he has been reprimanded several times in the past including losing his job with ABC for his controversial views on 9/11.
6. This is not a free speech issue or an inalienable rights issue. This is a money issue. Rush apologized because his show, which depends on advertizing, is losing money. Bill Maher did not apologize because he's on cable, which depends on subscriptions. If you want to attack Bill Maher for his opinions about Sarah Palin, start a campaign to get people to cancel their HBO subscription and make sure you get them to let HBO know that their cancelling it because of Bill Maher. Then maybe the company will listen.
Also, if Bill Maher said something that legally met the definition of defamation, then Palin can sue him. If not, then sticks and stones, etc...