This past Friday, late night host Bill Maher made himself the target of racially-charged controversy for referring to himself as the n-word on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. Despite the public's outcry for Maher to be fired from the network immediately, HBO confirmed with Entertainment Weekly that he will return to his regularly scheduled program.
Maher might be appearing as scheduled, but based on the controversy, his scheduled guest, Al Franken, will not be appearing.
"Senator Franken believes that what Bill Maher said was inappropriate and offensive, which is why he made the decision not to appear on the next episode of Real Time," spokesperson Michael Dale-Stein revealed to EW. "He was glad to see Bill, who the Senator considers to be a good friend, apologize and express sincere regret for his comment."
During the incident, the host was interviewing Republican Senator Ben Sasse, the Senator invited Maher to visit his home state of Nebraska, joking, "We'd love to have you work in the fields with us."
Maher replied, "Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house n****r." Immediately after the comment, the audience began to groan, clearly not on board with the host's use of the racial slur nor the reference to slavery.
The morning after Maher used the slur, HBO saw the public anger and outrage, quickly making a statement that called Maher's joke "completely inexcusable and tasteless."
Later that afternoon, Maher made a statement of his own, saying, "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."
Maher might be returning to his show this week, but his long-term future with the network is unclear.
If HBO makes any permanent change in their relationship with Maher, it wouldn't be the first time his words got him into hot water.0comments
In September of 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, the host explained, "We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly."
The comments about the terrorist attack caused Maher to lose his gig hosting Politically Incorrect.