Bill Maher and HBO apologized Saturday for Bill Maher’s use of the N-word on HBO on Friday night, the New York Times reports. HBO was first out of the gate Saturday morning, publicly criticizing the host of Real Time With Bill Maher while announcing that his exchange with Sen. Bill Sasse was going straight down the memory hole:
Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.
A few hours later, Maher weighed in with his own apology:
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.
The apology is rare for Maher, who is no stranger to public backlash, most recently for interviewing internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos shortly before his fall from grace. The host has drawn heat in the past for Islamophobia and sexism, and his ABC show, Politically Incorrect, was canceled in 2002 in the wake of advertiser pullouts after Maher said that the Sept. 11 attacks were less cowardly than U.S. long-distance bombing campaigns. That blowup led to an ominous warning from White House press secretary Ari Fleischer that “people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.” Will Sean Spicer issue a similarly Orwellian warning about white people who use the N-word? Probably not.