Bill Maher's N-Word Gaffe on Real Time Draws Sharp Rebuke From HBO

Bill Maher raised eyebrows on Friday evening when he used the N-word during an interview with junior United States senator Ben Sasse. The remark triggered an immediate backlash on social media, and now HBO has released a statement condemning the Real Time host for his “deeply offensive comment.”

“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless,” the statement reads. “We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

The premium cabler’s decision to remove the N-word gaffe from additional airings comes after Sasse — who in the video below can be seen cringing in his seat after Maher makes use of the racial slur — issued a response of his own. In a series of tweets on Saturday, the Nebraskan politician expressed his remorse about not speaking up during the interview, and suggested that Maher had overstepped his bounds as a comedian.

“Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines… but free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word,” Sasse said. “My 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?'” Sasse continued. “‘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.'”

The crack came midway through Maher’s interview with Sasse, when the 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.”

UPDATE: Maher has issued a statement apologizing for his use of the racial slur. Read it here.

Watch video of the controversial Real Time moment above.

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31 Comments
  1. Jason Stoesz says:

    This is Cover Your Ass 101. He’s only saying something because SJW’s lit up his twitter. It’s just a WORD. And it wasn’t used in a malicious, racist connotation.

    • Jason Stoesz says:

      “…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.”

      Has he ever in his LIFE said that to a black person? Just wondering.

    • Carrie says:

      There is No possible “non racist” use of that word. Period.

      • Fido says:

        (1) singing along to an Ice Cube song
        (2) being an actor in a film
        (3) a discussion about the origin and past usage of offensive words.

      • Derek says:

        Really? Because half the songs in the charts right now seem to have it.

      • Temperance says:

        Nonsense. The word is used by black folks incessantly. Are they being racist? Nope. It’s used academically all the time. Is that racist? Nope. High;lighting racism by using the word is anti-racist, and all the com blather in the universe won’t change that.

        • Lyndy says:

          How exactly do you highlight racism by using the n word. I’ve never understood how some people are so pressed by the fact that Black people are given a pass for using the n word. Last I checked that’s about the only privilege they have over white folks. Stop being petty, the use of this word is never ok.

    • Temperance says:

      Total agreement. All words are human words. Some are more powerful, and need to be used carefully, but no group owns a word. Maher used the n-word to make a point, highlighting bigotry of others. The cons don;t like being called out. Too bad… it’s just another pathetic attempt to harm anyone that stands in their way.

  2. AngelWasHere says:

    Disgusting. I hope this douche gets fired. It’s about time he did. Never liked the guy.

  3. Fido says:

    Context is everything. Did Maher get angry at a black man and call him that – no. Was he trying to be funny, yes. Sure, many won’t have found it funny. Sure, some were offended. But sack him, seriously ?! If Maher thinks he did wrong, went to far, let let him apologize and then move on people.

    When did “saying sorry” stop being a thing people accepted as ending a matter. Now when someone makes a mistake, all too quickly some people’s eyes seem to light up with a glint cos now they can get someone fired. Sigh. Sure some things can’t be dealt with by a simple apology, but this is easily one of those that can.

    • Haz says:

      You’re saying that as if this is the first time Maher has been in this type of situation. It’s not. This probably will not be the last time he winds up in hot water either.

      • Fido says:

        Don’t know anything about his past “crimes”. If he often uses the word in his show, then why all the fuss. If you don’t like it and you don’t like him, just don’t watch. QED.

  4. NoWords says:

    OH no! Bill better not run for President…oh wait.

  5. dsrbroadway says:

    That’s lame, HBO. It’s already online, no point in censoring the episode.

  6. AngelWasHere says:

    I can’t believe people are giving him a pass or finding this joke funny. He said the n with “er”. Not the other one. Either one is awful and inexcusable imo as someone who’s black. No matter, this isn’t the first time. This man has a history of making racist jokes about Muslims. He has been hiding behind jokes, liberals, and the black women he’s dated, but there is no excuse. He should have been fired a long time ago. The fact that’s he’s still employed is disgusting. B/w I’m not conservative or republican or any of those labels. I’m just a black woman who’s tired of seeing people like this getting a pass. I hate to say it, but if he was a republican he would be fired by now.

    • So true. This is the double standard that so many people are sick of in America. It’s also part of the reason why someone like Trump got elected in the first place. All people should be held to the same standards regardless of race, political party, etc., but that is not how it is. if a Fox News reporter has said this same thing, it would be covered by the MSM and everyone would be calling for boycotts, that person to be fired, etc. I guarantee that nothing will happen to Maher though since he’s a liberal.

    • Olivia says:

      I hate to be that person, but muslim is not a race. There are white muslims, black muslims etc just as there are arabic non-muslims.

      • Hannah says:

        This is true, but racist people most certainly ascribe race to Islam when they put them down. Ask a racist person to describe a Muslim, and 99 times out of 100, they have a stereotypical racial makeup assigned to that picture. It’s why there are so many Arabs that are attacked and/or harassed by anti-Islam people, even if they aren’t Muslim. Just ask my Christian Jordanian friend who has anti-Islam slurs hurled at him way too often.

  7. DryHeat says:

    This much ado about nothing…it was a joke. Maher has enough street cred after all these years. The Senator saying, “We want our people working in the fields” was an odd way to phrase his point , and Bill retorted with a silly reply. Get over it…he was not being racist.

    Comedy is the last bastion of free speech…if we screw that up like we have everything else, we are all EFFED.

  8. Ron says:

    I fundamentally disagree with pretty much all of Sasse’s ideological views. But he deserves no blame in this at all. I appreciate his choice to take to twitter to say something and his reflections on the matter, but we–well, I, at least–would’ve been fine if he didn’t, as we all knew what it was. We all have those moments of silent cringes and nervous laughs because we don’t know what to do in awkward or uncomfortable situations.

  9. milton thomas says:

    Look, just this simple. Would you use an offensive word against your daughter, mom, sister when you may say it in the presence of your friends? The answer is no! I say everyone should stop saying it, I’m black by the way!

  10. OK, let’s see all of the people crying out for advertisers to boycott him, his show and call for his firing. Oh, that only happens when a conservative says something inappropriate, not a liberal. Got it.

  11. Kim R says:

    I was watching as usual and have to say I was shocked when he said what he did. He was attempting humor but it was just a stupid direction to go. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t have known immediately that it should never have come out of his mouth. There is no good spin, he was regretful so let’s just move on. Hopefully lesson learned.

  12. Rick Katze says:

    Whenever I hear “But free speech comes with responsibility”, what they are really saying is that we are going to censor things we do not like. The use of the “N” word, to take one example, is probably not appropriate in most cases and, in fact, I am not using it in this comment, but real free speech will sometimes makes you very uncomfortable and that is the intent of the first amendment. So get over it. PS. I often disagree with Bill Maher but I will defend his right to say what he wants. Don’t like it, then don’t listen but don’t demand that he censor himself.

  13. Sheryl D Ware says:

    As a person of color I find the mentioning of the ” N” word taken over the top every time some one else says it that’s not Black. As a race of people we must first stop using it ,no matter the sentiment it’s use for. Let’s stop being double standard and stop using it toward one another.