Bill Maher Offers On-Air Apology for Using N-Word on 'Real Time': "I Did a Bad Thing"
The host kicked off Friday's show by addressing his widely criticized comment, which HBO called "completely inexcusable and tasteless."
On Friday's Real Time, host Bill Maher offered an on-air apology for using the N-word during last week's widely criticized episode.
"I did a bad thing," said the host, addressing the backlash he's received since the show aired to guest Michael Eric Dyson. "For black folks, that word — I don't care who you are — it's caused pain. It doesn't matter that it was not said in malice, it caused pain, and that's why I apologized. I'm not that big of an asshole."
"We're all evolving," continued Maher. "Yes, it was wrong, and I own up to that. It happened, and it was wrong. People make mistakes, we're all sinners."
Maher sparked outrage when he joked that he was "a house n—er" when guest Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse asked, "Would you like to come work in the field with us?" on the June 2 episode of Real Time.
"I'm just a product of the country, but I don't want to pretend that this is more of a race thing than a comedian thing," Maher said on Friday. "We are trained to get a laugh. This is not the first time I've gotten in trouble because that's what comedians are somehow wired to do. Sometimes we transgress a sensitivity point."
The host then joked that fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, who was fired from CNN recently for a controversial photo shoot in which she held a mask of President Donald Trump's decapitated head, owes him a "fruit basket for keeping her off the front page."
He previously apologized in a statement: "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."
HBO called the host's use of the word "completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show."
Ice Cube, Dyson, David Gregory, David Jolly and Symone Sanders appeared as guests on Friday's show. Sen. Al Franken, who was originally booked as a guest, canceled his appearance after Maher's "offensive" use of the word.
"I knew you was going to f— up sooner or later," Ice Cube told the host. "Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker," he added, which Maher pushed back slightly on.
Ice Cube called the word a "weapon" used by white people against black people. "I like your show," he told Maher. "I like you, but I do think this is a teachable moment not just to you, but to the people watching right now."