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.