Bill Maher said the N-word and people are rightfully pissed

Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, decided to bring together the ugliest sides of politics and comedy by using the N-word in what he said was a “joke.”

On the latest episode of the live show, which aired on Friday night, Maher made the tasteless comment while interviewing Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). According to the New York Times, the pair were talking about millennials and adulthood and how Californians still dress up for Halloween as adults—something that Sasse said didn’t happen in Nebraska.

“I’ve got to get to Nebraska more,” Maher replied.

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

“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n****r. No, it’s a joke,” Maher said.

Audience members reacted between groaning and clapping, while Sasse, not addressing the comment, reacted with a facial expression that was somewhere between a smile and a grimace.

Of course, regardless of whom he referred the racial slur to, Maher’s use of the N-word is completely unwarranted, shameful, and racist. It’s never OK for a white person to use a slur created by white people that historically verbally dehumanized black people while also physically assaulting and killing them. (Here’s an extremely comprehensive guide on how not to use the N-word, if you still have questions yourself.)

Twitter immediately jumped in to vilify the talk show host, whose other “jokes” have spanned the spectrum of offending Muslims, transgender people, and women.

On Saturday morning, Sasse responded to criticism that he seemingly went along with Maher’s racist comment by clarifying that though he was “cringing,” he should have stopped Maher and asked him why he thought it was OK to use the N-word.

And while Sasse stood up against Maher’s comment, he doesn’t get a cookie for publishing four tweets—standing up to racism as an afterthought is much easier said than done when you’re hours behind and thousands of miles away.

Update 1:13pm CT: HBO has released a statement on Maher’s slur to the Hollywood Reporter. Said the network: “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.”

Update 1:53pm CT: Now, Maher himself has apologized for his choice of words.

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.