Nicole Chavez, CNN, June 3, 2017
Comedian Bill Maher apologized Saturday for using a racial slur during an interview the night before with Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on his HBO show.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The two were discussing teenagers and maturity when Maher mentioned that adults dress up for Halloween in California. He then asked Sasse if people do that in Nebraska.
“It’s frowned upon. We don’t do that quite as much,” Sasse said.
“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,” the senator added.
“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n****r,” Maher said.
Some audience members groaned while others laughed. Sasse briefly kept quiet.
“No, it’s a joke,” Maher said, breaking the silence.
Tweets soon poured in condemning Maher’s remarks. Some called for his firing.
HBO issued a statement on Saturday morning disavowing Maher’s use of the racial epithet.
“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless,” Quentin Schaffer, executive vice president for corporate communications at HBO, said in the statement. “We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”
The senator said he wished he had spoken up.