Bill Maher Issues Apology After Using Racial Slur on Real Time

Bill Maher on Saturday released a statement apologizing for his use of the N-word during Friday’s episode of 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. “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.”

Maher’s apology comes after HBO issued a statement of its own, condemning the host for his “deeply offensive comment” and promising to remove it from any subsequent broadcasts. The crack came midway through Maher’s interview with Ben Sasse, when the junior senator invited Maher to come to Nebraska and “work in the fields with us,” to which the host replied, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n—er.” (Watch video of the gaffe by clicking here.)

Sasse has since addressed the controversy on Twitter, expressing remorse for not speaking up after the comment was made, and criticizing Maher for overstepping his bounds as a comedian.

What do you think of Maher’s apology? And is it enough? Chime in below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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108 Comments
  1. Gina says:

    He’s not sorry he said it, he’s sorry he got the reaction that he did.

  2. Chris says:

    And Anderson goes back to the drawing board for a new co-host for New Year’s.

  3. C says:

    Fire him!! He’s been a long time closeted racist and now he’s showing his true colors. He said it so casually that you know he says it all the time. This time, he thought he was in polite company and found out the cameras were rolling. Fire HIM now!! An apology is NOT enough!!

    • April Livings says:

      What a bunch of crap. Why don’t you worry about the actual racists that make policy in Washington? THAT’S the real problem in America.

    • Gloria Garrett says:

      I disagree, he’s a comedian. I’m black know and understand what he was saying

      • C says:

        So what if you are black. You ought to be fired too. You are not the spokesperson for all black people. You need to take several seats somewhere in traffic.

        • Mary Clark says:

          Oh it’s ok for black comedians make remarks about the whites but a white comedian responding to what a guest is saying and he’s a racist give me a break you are probably a white Republican just wanting to stir something up. Why don’t you pay attention to what your president is doing, putting a white supremist into the white house and letting him continue on with his blog as bout racism. Grow up.

          • C says:

            President Trump is no more a racist than Obama was a muslim. You, my friend, are delusional and have been drinking Democratic kool-aid for all your life. Grow up. 4 more years. MAGA. Get used to it!!

        • Ritchie Stirling says:

          Clearly, no one but you is the spokesperson.

      • Justice says:

        Lol if he was a republican you know you would be calling for him to be fired – comedian or not.

      • Mildred Harris says:

        It does not matter!!!!I’m African American too, and the word is WRONG ON ALL LEVELS…..

    • T says:

      LOL! Why? Because people that are far, far, far worse every second of the day on real issues say so? The cons are stunningly, universe-class hypocrits on this issue. Do you know how many conservatives of power ONLY used the n-word when referring to Obama? Lots. Yeah, not happening.

  4. Mark D. Moss says:

    We have a racist, misogynist, liar, oligark, traitor, hell bent on destroying the entire planet for his own selfish gains in the White House. That’s who I’m worried about. Not a comedian (who, yes, said the wrong word … and who frequently prods for laughs by stoking stereotypes in an offensive way). And not that other comedian who posed for a “mean” picture. I want the person removed from his job who *actually* feeds into the darkest and most ignorant side of our society, while profiting from his office (and from an electorate that is some combination of profoundly ignorant and hateful) …not comedians whose *job* it is to break the boundaries of social norms. Are you *really* more embarrassed by this live aside? Or a seemingly unending pattern of the ugliest, racist, sexist, inhuman and selfish actions that are undoing, literally, decades of social advancements that made being an American *actually* great?

  5. April Livings says:

    This is not a man who apologizes for something he said just because it’s unpopular. He stands by controversial remarks unapologetically and defends them with facts and examples.
    So I take him at his word when he does apologize.

  6. Jessie says:

    He needs to join Kathy Griffin—–birds of a feather, flock together .

  7. TV Gord says:

    We have to grow up about the use of this word. It’s too often used as a slur, and that’s inexcusable, but that’s not the way Bill Maher used it. He didn’t say it in reference to anyone. He didn’t call someone that, the way Michael Richards did, for instance (I haven’t been able to watch Seinfeld–one of my favorite shows–since then; I’ve sold my DVDs because they were gathering dust on a shelf). Richards said it with obvious hatred in his heart, which is why so many of us have been unable to forgive him for it (compounded by the reality that he never adequately explained himself). Maher didn’t say it with hate in his heart. John Lennon, Elvis Costello, and other white icons have used it in their songs, but in context, it wasn’t offensive. There IS a difference.

    It makes me laugh when people replace the word with, “The N-word”, as though that’s okay, when it’s just as bad (or not). You have to realize that when you say that, you’re still putting the word in our heads. Right? When you say, “The N-word”, it usually isn’t being used as a slur, though, so it IS okay, because you’re not calling someone that. You’re just making reference to it, so if you just said the word, that’s okay, too.

    People who have had the word used against them know when it’s okay and when it’s not. We should all know the difference, and be adults about it.

    • Gloria Garrett says:

      Thank you we knew exactly what Bill was saying

    • Lillian says:

      Thank you.

    • Speaking for myself, as a black woman, here is my opinion of the n*word:
      To me: “N! gger” is like the word b! tch:

      I’ve said it
      I’ve sung it in songs
      I’ve called friends it in jest

      but…if you employ me, are a stranger to me, or you are trying somehow disrespect me by calling me a “b! tch”…then we have a problem.

      • C says:

        I agree with you. Maher was meaning it as a derogatory statement. He’s used to saying it in what he like to call safe company. And I don’t care how many black women has is or has dated. I bet he doesn’t or didn’t say it around any of them. He needs to be fired NOW!!

        • that’s where we disagree… I don’t think he was using it as a derogatory statement — because it wasnt directed *at* anyone. But, my husband is white, and we love each other immensely…but he knows (because I have told him) if he EVER called me that in anger, I will take it as a sign he is ready to start a long, ugly divorce. Because that is *exactly* what would happen if he did,

    • E says:

      Odd, I can remember when Paula Deen was raked over the coals for saying that same word and you, (among many) were literally screaming for her head. You should take your own advice about that word–or is it, you hated Deen but Maher is OK in your book? I do love me some hypocrites. An ugly word is an ugly word–no matter who says it or how they meant it, I don’t think you know the difference yourself–just who is saying it.

      • TV Gord says:

        I’m flattered that you almost remember me from the Paula Deen situation, but my main point at that time was that I was glad to see her brought down mainly because she was pushing her diabetes-inducing recipes while she was also hawking a diabetes medication (speaking of hypocrisy). Also, there is no comparison between Deen, who used the word in reference to actual people, and Maher merely used the word, not at anyone other than himself…and it was a joke. Deen wasn’t joking. She may have used it in a light-hearted some-of-my-friends-are…kind of way, but the two uses are not comparable. Nice try, though.

  8. Lynne says:

    Yes an apology is enough! Move on and do something about the real racism that goes on daily.

  9. popeye013 says:

    Shame he apologised as the line was said in jest, not to be offensive and its only this sad pathetic SJW world we now inhabit that he had to ‘apologise’ in the first place!
    HBO and their statement didn’t help matters but then again, it is Time Warner so….!

  10. Michael Weidler says:

    I don’t think he should have apologized. For something to be a “slur”, someone or something needs to he getting slurred. Was it in poor taste? Definitely. But then so is a lot of his comedy. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  11. Derek says:

    Why wasn’t it OK in the first place? He didn’t direct it at anyone and it made sense in the context he employed it.

    We are living in thought-police state, it seems.

  12. Chrystopher Anglin says:

    He made a mistake apologized. I found Senator Sasse’s comments more offensive actually. But that’s just me!

  13. Clydesdale says:

    ‘Ol Bill issued an apology? You don’t say… Gimme a break. He’s gonna be fine. He won’t be fired; he won’t be fined. He’s a “he!” “He’s” can do anything. If you switched the recent actions from the ever radiant Kathy Griffin, she’d still be the one being abused by the media, and Billy would’ve been laughed at…..

  14. I watch Bill Mayer every Friday night. When he made the comment I knew at that moment it would come back to haunt him. Believe it or not I don’t think he needs to be fire. Most of us were taught “The abundance of the heart the mouth will speak” and that’s true. But sometime good people say bad things just like bad people have a come to Jesus moment. Bill Maher is very informative and keeps a vast number of people in the know. I’ll admit he can be over the top sometimes but I wouldn’t label him a racist nor would I march or protest to have him fired. JUst saying…..

  15. Roo says:

    He’s disgusting, always has..

  16. George says:

    He was trying to echo what Malcolm x said about house slaves and he screwed up

  17. People need to get over it .I work in the motion picture industry and the ( n-word )is used by all the blacks between themselves. We all have to listen to it.so either no one says it or,everyone uses it.

  18. Justice says:

    Normally I dont not believe in firing people for saying things. He can say the word all he wants for all i care if people dont like it dont watch.

    That said the left has gone after so many people on the right – don imis for saying nappy headed, rush limbaugh for implying sandra fluke was a slut – that it seems fair that bill maher should be terminated for this.

    YOu know if Sean hanniyy used this word he would have been canned already. SO in the interest of fairness fore bill maher. When the left stops being the pc police then maybe this will end.

  19. The Annoyed Elephant says:

    If it had been a conservative… let’s say Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh… who had said it, the left would be calling for his head. He’d be put through the ringer and would lose endorsements, events, and potentially his job. So why not Maher? Where’s the outrage, SJWs?

    • Angela says:

      1. Limbaugh and Hannity are news/political commentators. Maher is a comedian. There is a difference. Comedians aren’t going to be held to the same kind of professional standard that news/political commentators would be (or at least, they shouldn’t, anyway). Your comparison would fit better if you talked about a conservative-leaning comedian getting in trouble for making the same kind of joke that Maher made here.
      2. There are “SJWs” out there who are bothered by this. I’m liberal and I think it was stupid, too.
      .
      (But if we are going to talk hypocrisy, how much do you want to be that if a conservative had made a comment like this, many on the right would be defending them all while bemoaning the “PC/sensitive snowflake culture”?)

  20. ginny waldheim says:

    Bill’s fine I’m sure Sasse doesn’t work in the fields. he was being empathetic!

    • Ashlyn says:

      He actually has worked in the fields. LOL! He’s also a big proponent of having his children experience farm and ranch life around the state. However, this isn’t too shocking. I myself grew up in Nebraska and spent two summers working in the corn fields detasseling corn.

  21. Janet Finkelstein says:

    Bill Maher can call himself anything he wants, that is free speech and his choice. I don’t like the word and don’t use it to refer to anyone, that is my choice. If he had used the phrase to refer to someone else, I would have a problem with that. Women refer to themselves as c***ts, b***hs, and some men use the word bastard to refer to themselves and friends. Too many black people call themselves & friends the “n” word for my liking. This is the essence of free speech. I don’t like what you say and I will defend your right to self identify.

  22. André Berry says:

    Of course I forgive Bill Maher. I am African American and I believe Bill Maher is an important figure in our modern Social Media and a great voice in regards to governmental monitoring and insight. I accept that as he may toe the line to make his point sometimes he make stagger over the line, but if you feel the need to impeach and not forgive Bill Maher for a mistake but keep and forgive our current President who lies and steps over the line over & over, what does that say about HBO? We need Bill Maher. He speaks up for us. Mistakes are made to be forgiven in my book. Intentions lies and cover-ups are not.

  23. Corinne Lilliott says:

    Bill Maher is awesome truth teller….apology is appropriate…..he is smart and works hard to make us learn the real truth….ie, vice news….vice….Lots of cry babies out there…stop complaining and go DO something to make this country and this world better.

  24. Snow says:

    Big eye roll
    He has used that word before on his show and has never had to apologize, so please tell me what is the big deal.
    Eye roll hypocrites

  25. Paul says:

    Because he’s a democrat, he will have almost zero consequences. Kathy wouldn’t have had any either had she not gone so damn far over the line. Cannot understand how anyone defends these people and yet condemn that idiot in office. Both are bad, one isn’t better than the other.

  26. Gerald W Landrum says:

    I don’t think Bill meant disrespect to other people; he went for shorthand joke to distinguish his work ethic–as a pleasantry. Consider what he stands for: he gave a million dollars to Obama campaign. The word should not make brains go ballistic losing all discernment. We live in a racist society, but total denial of a reality is a lie, not a solution.

  27. HEYScott says:

    Waite a liberal sorry about something they said . No .

  28. Antwon303 says:

    I am a Black man and I do not use the word but I have friends and family members who do. I get that people still question why it’s not a huge deal for rappers/actors/comedians to use the word but then it’s such an issue when something like this happens. People need to get that when the word is used by a White person there is going to be a huge backlash. Bill wasn’t acting in a movie…he was on his show and trying to be funny. It is not going to be received the same way EVER coming from someone who isn’t Black. Gwyneth Paltrow is friends with Beyonce and Jay-Z and got skewered for posting a picture with them with the caption: Niggas in Paris.” No one wants to see a White person post that. It was an ignorant thing to do.

    IIRC Bill has dating a few Black women…I think one of his long-time GFs was Black. I don’t believe he is a racist. I think he felt he was being cute and he’s “down” enough to say it because as some have pointed out…he has said it before. He referred to himself in that manner was totally asinine.

    The reaction to the word will ALWAYS be different depending on who is using it and how. It is a word that was created by White people to cut people off at the knees and degrade them. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that Black people have taken the word and using it in a “good way” or a loving way. I have witnessed people greeted that way warmly with a hug or handshake! I get it…but I don’t like it. If Bill Maher had Denzel Washington on his show and greeted him by saying “My N*****” he would and should be in hot water.

  29. Jeff says:

    It’s just a word, it has the negativity we place on it. Bill used it in a way that wasn’t racist but obviously shows the meaning we people put on it. His show has shown to be one of the few places facts rule the dialogue. That’s really what the fire Bill people are concerned about.

  30. Softbreez says:

    he does not have apologize, period. He expressed just as such cocky GOP senator offered host to work on the fields …. such nice invitation? Not. Bill has a right to express of himself however he chooses for which he did. He did not misuse the word on anyone … Beside, everyone of us cannot claim that he might not have black in his DNA just like the rest of us until we all do a DNA proof of our mixture … Would you be surprise.

  31. marion prisk says:

    I have been watching Bill Maher since politically incorrect. He is virtually on point 95 percent of the time. When he is wrong he is REALLY WRONG. This was NOT one of those instances. The black community needs to Grow Up. This was a joke where He referred to himself as the N word. Black’s use that word All the time in reference to themselves.
    Again grow up or stay victimized.

    • TV Gord says:

      I haven’t seen any complaints or condemnation from “the black community”, so your telling them to grow up is silly. This is just a bunch of white people wringing their hands about it. You can tell them to grow up.

  32. Ruth says:

    I accept it. We all make mistakes.

  33. Ruth says:

    We all make mistakes. He’s a good gut.

  34. Mia says:

    Today we may say many words that are absolutely meaningless without intent to hurt anyone but the paranoia of scatteriheads made from little thing a fire. From the history of our country and slavery this term was known and used. I do not recall that any political official apologized for slavery nor considered to pay retribution for bringing innocent people against their will to America and treated them worse than animals for hundreds of years.
    Please do not make a big deal from nothing when we have serious issues that are not resolved making us all slaves.

  35. John Jessop says:

    Although it is not a word to appropriately use anytime BUT I don’t have a problem with the joke as Maher used it. Black people are using this word all the time and calling them selves one. Black people CONSTANTLY are using the phrase on TV “oh those white people or that white boy/white girl or those white folks”. Is this an OK double standard for black people. Oh now I’m getting fired up. Anyway when black people stop using it I promise white won’t use it. I just still wait and wait and wait for people to complain when blacks call whites WHITE PEOPLE as it is obviously racist to call a black person black. Bunch of whiners.

  36. Darryl says:

    He meant no disrespect.

  37. LR says:

    I think racist words and slurrs need to be condemned no matter who says them. That said, there are truly terrifying racit out there. I don’t believe Bill is one of them. And many real ones are aren’t sorry for saying racist words and I believe you can truly tell who they are. Many of them are running this country as we speak. That right there should outrage people.

  38. The word is in every or most rap songs, movies and comedy shows. We can’t use it freely and expect other people not to use it. I dont like the word regardless of the complexion of who is using it.

  39. TV Gord says:

    An observation on TV history: Archie Bunker, the quintessential TV bigot, never used the word. (His neighbor, George Jefferson, did, though, on both All In The Family and The Jeffersons.) Archie used plenty of other objectionable words, but never that one. I find that interesting.

  40. MLO says:

    We need to stop giving so much power to words. Keeping everyone arguing about them diverts our focus until we’ve lost the bigger picture.

  41. Snow says:

    Did anyone notice the context in which she use that word? He was calling himself that, I personally don’t see what’s the big deal, especially because he used it in the past and no one got on his case until suddenly now. Caucasians