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Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time, surprised many with a nomination for best variety talk series on Thursday morning.
While competition in the category was particularly steep, it was thought that Maher’s recent comments might keep the political comic from earning a nomination.
In June, Maher made headlines when he responded to guest Sen. Ben Sasse’s question, “Would you like to come work in the field with us?” by saying, “Work in the fields? Senator, I am a house n—er.”
HBO, viewers and Maher’s guests the following week all condemned Maher’s use of the racial epithet. HBO called the host’s comments “completely inexcusable and tasteless” and vowed to remove “his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”
Maher apologized the following week on-air. “I did a bad thing,” Maher told 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.”
Maher once again found himself receiving criticism for a tweet he wrote earlier this month. Following the news over the 4th of July weekend that North Korea had launched a missile into the Pacific Ocean, Maher tweeted, “This N Korean thing is getting tense! I mean, I think it is, I’m on vaca. The ladies at my nail salon are freaking out, that’s what I know!”
The comment was deemed racially insensitive for its stereotypical portrayal of Asian-Americans. Unlike with the previous controversy, Maher never issued an apology and has not removed the tweet from his feed.
This year’s Emmy nomination marks the 20th for Maher’s Real Time, though the Friday night program has never taken home the statue. Competing against Maher this year are Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show With James Corden and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
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