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Bill Maher Apologizes For Using The N-Word On His Show

And it's not the first time he's been slammed for racially insensitive comments.

Originally posted on
Updated on

On Friday's episode of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Maher used the n-word during an interview with Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.

Bill Maher just called himself a "House Nigger" and the audience applauded. #RealTime #Racist #FamousLastWords… https://t.co/zwPDObE8Go

“I’ve got to get to Nebraska more," Maher said to Sasse.

“You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us," Sasse replied.

“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger. No, it’s a joke," said Maher.

The crowd responded with a mix of groans and applause. Sasse appeared to chuckle uncomfortably.

People then started calling on HBO to fire Maher.

HBO needs to fire Bill Maher. Not for tonight, he's just shit, and has been for years.

. @billmaher is a racist and bigot. @HBO must fire him this is not acceptable https://t.co/nlmFcDoWAk

But really, @BillMaher has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable.

And many pointed out that it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Maher has previously made degrading comments about trans people, women, and especially Muslims.

If u thought Bill Maher was a champion of the progressive left, u havent been listening to Muslim & black folks. We've been calling him out.

I can't believe Bill Maher said something racist, said no Muslim ever. #realtime

People shocked at Bill Maher being racist-y, check w your Arab & Muslim friends. Been doing this for a LONG time, but he got hall passes.

@billmaher For folks finally denouncing @billmaher now: you're saying while transphobia & Islamophobia are ok, anti… https://t.co/UZzHKq0yZf

the only shocking thing about Bill Maher saying the n word on air is that he hasn't done it before now

People on the right also criticized Maher.

Bill Maher must be fired immediately for his racism and belittling the struggle of millions of black Americans

@JackPosobiec Hi @HBO! Bill Maher used N-word on show. Black comedian Nick Cannon was FIRED for doing same. Will yo… https://t.co/4sACjgr9ac

As did Chance the Rapper.

Please @HBO Do Not Air Another Episode Of Real Time With Bill Maher.

Early Saturday morning, Sasse apologized on Twitter for not speaking up when Maher used the racial slur.

Am walking off a redeye from LAX. 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 wa… https://t.co/x6t460BqRv

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… https://t.co/dq74b2YzsN

(4of4) "...The history of the n-word is an attack on universal human dignity. It’s therefore an attack on the Ameri… https://t.co/wciCKhjGVN

Sasse said:

Am walking off a redeye from LAX. 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.
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?... 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.”

An HBO spokesperson told BuzzFeed News Maher's comment was "completely inexcusable and tasteless" and that they would remove it from re-runs.

HBO says Bill Maher's use of the n-word was "completely inexcusable" and they're removing the comment from re-runs.… https://t.co/7RtY8JjyYf

Saturday afternoon, in a statement to BuzzFeed News, Maher said he regrets the use of the "offensive" word which he "used in the banter of a live moment."

Bill Maher has apologized for using the n-word https://t.co/f5EISRr7b9

Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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