Bill Maher Apologizes for His Use of a Racial Slur on ‘Real Time’
Since 2003, HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher has been a divisive source of comedy (“comedy”) and political commentary. If you believe the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then the last few years have been particularly kind to the series; Maher has come under attack for his comments on an Ann Coulter protest at the University of California at Berkeley or his decision to give alt-right poster child Milo Yiannopoulos the chance to spread his message of intolerance to the masses. And while Maher has survived and even thrived at the center of controversy, his recent use of a racial slur on the show may be the final straw for even his most ardent supporters.
In a conversation with Nebraska senator Ben Sasse on Friday, Maher was encouraged by Sasse to visit Nebraska and come “work in the fields” to experience firsthand the agriculture industry of the state. In response, Maher told the senator that he was more of a “house [N-word],” leading organizations like the NAACP to immediately condemn Maher and his racist remark:
While Maher did not address his use of a racial slur during the broadcast, on Saturday, the New York Times published the following statement from Maher on his comments:
Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.
If you do not see the big deal about Maher throwing out an offhanded racial slur on Real Time, I would encourage you to seek out the countless civil rights activists and community leaders who have decried Maher’s comments and explained the effect it can have on normalizing racist comments. For its part, HBO condemned Maher’s comments as “inexcusable and tasteless” and vowed to remove that section from any subsequent re-airings of the show. I’d like to believe that this would encourage HBO to take some form of action against Maher — suspensions, sensitivity training, anything — but something tells me Maher will instead become a symbol for those who wish to share their own hateful rhetoric without restriction.