Bill Maher turned heads when he used the N-word on his show Real Time With Bill Maher, during an interview with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse Friday night. In response to Sasse inviting Maher to "work in the fields with us" in Nebraska, Maher said, "Senator, I’m a house n*gga."
Maher claimed it was "a joke," but others haven’t taken it lightheartedly. Apparently, neither is HBO, as the network issued a statement Saturday morning.
"Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless," HBO said in a statement. "We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show."
The network did not point out whether Maher will be suspended. Maher also issued a statement, saying he was "very sorry."
Sasse tweeted out a series of thoughts Saturday morning.
Am walking off a redeye from LAX.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
3 reflections on @billmaher
1. I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines.
2. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word. Me just cringing last night wasn’t good enough.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
3. Here’s what I wish I’d been quick enough to say in the moment: “Hold up, why would you think it’s OK to use that word?...— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
(4of4)— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
"...The history of the n-word is an attack on universal human dignity. It’s therefore an attack on the American Creed. Don't use it.” https://t.co/kEZm5vPFHK
HBO’s response hasn’t satisfied the public, as many—including some notable figures—have expressed their discontent on Twitter.
Please @HBO Do Not Air Another Episode Of Real Time With Bill Maher.— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) June 3, 2017
Bill Maher would like us to believe that his use of the n-word is in joking solidarity. But w/ whom? He was talking about us, not w/ us.— deray mckesson (@deray) June 3, 2017
Bill maher been calling muslims the nword for months now if we're being real deal Holyfield.— Desus Nice (@desusnice) June 3, 2017
4 years ago Wayne Brady told us about Bill Maher. pic.twitter.com/tCr5heH16P— Clint The Boxer (@ClintTheBoxer) June 3, 2017
Maher, 61, is a comedian and political commentator, and his show has been on the air with HBO since 2003. Known for his sarcastic attitude, satire, and pushing the boundaries, Maher has drawn public outrage plenty of times before.
At this point, it is not clear whether Maher will suffer any consequences for his choice of words.