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In the current political climate, there's an extra level of scrutiny put on comedians and television show hosts who cover political content. The Late Show host Stephen Colbert recently faced backlash over a sexually charged joke at President Donald Trump, and now HBO late night host Bill Maher is in the spotlight. Maher used a racial slur during a live taping of his show, which faced immediate criticism on social media. Maher has now issued an apology for his words, which you can read below.
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.
Bill Maher released a statement (via Variety) apologizing for his choice of words during the Friday taping of his show, Real Time with Bill Maher. In the statement, Maher expressed regret over using the N-word while interviewing Senator Ben Sasse. Normally an unapologetic proponent of free speech and a criticizer of political correctness, Maher nonetheless realized his mistake and regretted his choice of words.
The much-discussed racial moment came during an interview with Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, where some banter took a quick turn. Sasse invited Bill Maher to come to Nebraska sometime to "work the fields with us," to which Maher replied, "Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house n---. No, it's a joke." The moment was meant with both groans and clapping from the audience. Neither Maher or Sasse addressed the comment any further and quickly moved on to other topics of conversation. Social media users were quick to condemn Maher for his remarks, with some calling for his firing from HBO.
HBO has since released a statement of their own, writing that "Bill Maher's comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless." The network will be removing the moment from all subsequent airings of the episode. HBO did not discuss the status of Maher's job and if the host was in danger of being fired.
Bill Maher is not the only political comedian to come under fire in the recent weeks. Last month Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show on CBS, was criticized for a joke during his monologue implying a sexual relationship between President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. More recently, comedian Kathy Griffin faced scrutiny after she posed for a photograph holding what appeared to be Trump's bloody dismembered head. CNN, where Griffin co-hosts its annual New Year's Eve program, has since ended their association with her.
At the time of writing, Real Time with Bill Maher is expected to air a new episode in its usual time on Friday at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.