Comedian Bill Maher has apologized for using a racial slur in a joke that aired on last night’s broadcast of “Real Time,” the current events talk show he has hosted for HBO since 2003.
“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 released Saturday. “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 was interviewing Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and joked that he should get to Nebraska more often, prompting Sasse to invite Maher to come “work in the fields with us.”
“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n_____,” Maher said with a laugh, before assuring his audience that it was just a joke.
The comment sparked much outrage on Twitter, with some calling for Maher to be fired.
HBO officials condemned the remark Saturday.
“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airing of the show,” the network said in a statement.
“Real Time” airs live at 7 p.m. from a studio in Los Angeles. HBO was criticized by some for not removing the slur before the show was rebroadcast at midnight.
Sasse also responded Saturday on Twitter, saying that he regretted he didn’t challenge Maher on the remark immediately, and that “me just cringing last night wasn’t good enough.”
This is not the first time Maher has been in hot water over remarks made on his TV shows. He was fired from his ABC show “Politically Incorrect” in 2002 after he said the 9/11 hijackers showed courage in crashing planes into buildings, which he contrasted with U.S. military personnel “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.”
More recently he’s been accused of Islamophobia for some of his views on the roots of Middle Eastern terrorism.
HBO previously announced that “Real Time” has already been renewed through 2018.
—City News Service