Bill Maher, host of HBO Real Time and purported comedian, gleefully used the n-word on his show this week.
His guest for the segment, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), invited Maher to “come work in the fields with us” in his home state of Nebraska.
“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n*****,” Maher replied.
Sasse immediately laughed as the audience broke out into applause and cheers. Watch:
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 3, 2017
In response to swift public backlash, the junior senator took to Twitter first to defend the first amendment: “I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines.” He then tweeted that he wished he would have been quick enough to object to the slur when Maher uttered it. Sasse claims that “just cringing last night wasn’t good enough,” but that’s misleading: The senator clearly laughed, not cringed, at Maher’s “joke.”
Sasse was on the show to promote his new book about his disappointment in a lack of maturity among American youth.
Maher has since apologized for using the slur. “I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment,” he said in a statement to media. “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.” HBO will reportedly remove the exchange from airings of the show:
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 3, 2017
But Maher has a long history of racist, sexist, and grossly bigoted public comments. The audience, like Sasse, reacted with instant glee to the “joke” because it’s exactly what they expect from the Real Time host.
I can't believe Bill Maher said something racist, said no Muslim ever. #realtime
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) June 3, 2017
He’s deeply Islamophobic. He once asked a Pakistani-British member of a popular boy band where he was during the Boston Bombing. He routinely denigrates the Quran, Muslims, and Islam—occasionally under the guise of a joke, but often in outright statements of naked bigotry.
He consistently casts Muslims as dangerous and anti-American:
He suggested millions of Muslims supported the Charlie Hebdo attack:
He’s also sexist: He calls women “bitches” and once cheered on a professional football player for allegedly choking his girlfriend, saying “the surprise is that someone hasn’t choked this bitch sooner.” He uses sexist language to attack his political targets, including President Trump. In one video, for example, Maher said, “If Trump was a man, he’d stop whining like a little bitch. #LadyTrump.”
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He accused Hillary Clinton of crying to get what she wanted. “I’m not trying to be sexist here, but I’m just saying that women try a lot of different tacks when they’re in arguments,” Maher said. “[L]ook at Hillary Clinton. The first thing a woman does, of course, is cry — and then they go to sweet talking … and then they throw an anger fit totally unrelated to anything.”
He fervently defended Bill O’Reilly’s racist and sexist joke about Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair, saying the outcry over it was an example of the kind of sensitivity that lost Democrats the presidential election.
He joked that drinking on St. Patrick’s Day played into stereotypes then quipped, “What if during Black History Month, we all bought lobster with food stamps? What if for Cinco de Mayo we all went swimming in blue jeans?”
He’s transphobic: Before fringe hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos’ fall from grace, he and Maher palled around on camera and bonded over their common disgust for trans people. Maher distanced himself from the rhetoric after Yiannopoulos defended pedophilia in separate interviews, but the segment blatantly normalized an extremist. “Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos Find Common Ground” was The New York Times’s headline.
And in 2015, he joked that recording an interview with trans woman Caitlyn Jenner was ironic because his TiVo “also cuts things off.”
The drumbeat for HBO to fire Maher continues on social media:
— Ahmed Bedier (@bedier) June 3, 2017
if you excuse bill maher's racism and islamophobia because he rips trump regularly, you're not any better than hannity shilling for trump
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 3, 2017
Does Bill Maher survive the n-bomb?
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) June 3, 2017
UPDATE: Bill Maher has apologized for using the n-word on his show, saying 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.”
This piece has been updated to include Maher’s apology.