Bill Maher apologizes for racial slur uttered during 'Real Time'

After remaining silent overnight, Bill Maher is expressing remorse for dropping a racial slur during an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse on Friday's episode of HBO's Real Time.

"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," Maher said in a statement provided by publicist Cece York. "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."

During a segment in the show, Sasse --  who was promoting his new book, The  VanishingAmericanAdult — invited Maher to visit Nebraska after the two talked about how adults in California still dress up for Halloween. "We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” the senator told the comic.

"Work in the fields?" Maher replied. "Senator, I am a house (expletive)."

The remark received a mixture of groans and laughter from audience members. Sasse, who chuckled at the comment, did not address it. Maher quickly asserted, "It's a joke."

In a statement issued by spokesman Quentin Schaffer, HBO said: “Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

As of Saturday afternoon, the episode was not available on HBO's streaming platform and the interview segment was not among the clips included on the show's YouTube channel.

Maher has not spoken publicly since the episode aired.

As he got off a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, Sasse tweeted, "I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word. Me just cringing last night wasn’t good enough. 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?' 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.'"

Reaction on Twitter, as expected, was swift and fierce:

 

USA Today


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