Pundit Bill Maher is playing defense for embattled NFL coach Jack Del Rio.
Speaking on his HBO show “Real Time,” Maher said the Washington Commanders assistant coach should have the right to speak his opinion on the January 6 attacks.
Del Rio was sacked with a $100,000 fine for his characterization of the violent riots as a mere “dust-up.”
“In America, you have the right to be wrong,” Maher said. “They fined him, the team fined him, $100,000 for this opinion. Fining people for an opinion. I am not down with that.”
That penalty, Maher said, demonstrated the limits of free speech in America.
“He doesn’t have a right to an opinion,” he said. “And it’s obviously not his right to do so.”
Del Rio argued that the January 6 attacks were trivial in comparison to the social unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing at the hands of police in 2020.
“I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed,” Del Rio said. “Businesses are being burned down. No problem. And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, where nothing burned down. And we’re going to make that a major deal.”
He later apologized for minimizing the siege, and Maher made clear that he disagreed with Del Rio’s commentary.
“I think I could also convince him there are really important differences between those two things,” he said. “And actually, the attack on the Capitol was worse.”
Under intense pressure, Del Rio offered his apologies over the comments.
“Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry,” he said.