Bill Maher calling himself a “house n****” on Friday’s episode of Real Time has sparked serious outrage across social media and caused many people, including some prominent black social justice activists, to call for the HBO host to be fired.
During a conversation with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Maher told the lawmaker: “I’ve gotta get to Nebraska more.”
“You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” Sen. Sasse jokingly replied.
Maher said in response:: “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n****.”
Met with a mix of groans and laughs from the audience, Maher said, “It’s a joke.”
The internet, however, didn’t find Maher’s comments funny or his explanation acceptable.
Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson wrote on Twitter, “But really, @BillMaher has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable.”
— deray (@deray) June 3, 2017
“And why did the audience think it was okay to laugh? And Ben Sasse doesn’t even flinch. What is happening in the world?” McKesson added.
And why did the audience think it was okay to laugh? And Ben Sasse doesn't even flinch. What is happening in the world?
— deray (@deray) June 3, 2017
Netflix’s Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks shared McKesson’s furor at what Maher said, writing on Twitter: “Unacceptable. And the audience applauds!?! So hurtful.”
Unacceptable. And the audience applauds!?! So hurtful. https://t.co/V5yAk9C9ON
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) June 3, 2017
Soon, social media was filled with journalists, comedians, and viewers who expressed shock and outrage at Maher.
Just a quick reminder that Bill Maher is trash
— BCC (@ByCommonConsent) June 3, 2017
Bill Maher gotta go.
— Nina Parker (@MzGossipGirl) June 3, 2017
For me, the jig has been up on Bill Maher for a long time. So, nah.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 3, 2017
Me after watching that clip of Bill Maher pic.twitter.com/y099nvBsp0
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) June 3, 2017
And Ben Sasse & the audience chuckle along with Bill Maher's racism… https://t.co/XZ1aqCeV2Z
— TC (@tchopstl_) June 3, 2017
Today is the day Bill Maher became president.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) June 3, 2017
Some social media users said Maher’s joke was akin to the career-ending stunt Kathy Griffin pulled earlier this week when she posed for a shock photo holding up a bloodied, decapitated head of President Donald Trump.
— Wallace Ritchie (@WallaceRitchie) June 3, 2017
This isn’t the first time Maher has dropped the N-word during a TV broadcast.
The 61-year-old comedian said during a September 2010 interview with Larry King that Republicans referred to President Barack Obama as “Kenyan,” which is “code for n*****.”
“That’s the new Kenyan, Larry. And Kenyan, of course, was code for [the N-word]. But that’s where they are. They can’t say it out loud. But that’s where this whole campaign is going to be,” Maher said according to a CNN transcript.
During a February episode of Real Time, Maher said, “I don’t know it for a fact that Jeff Sessions is a big fan of the movie Loving because he loves being able to talk about Ruth Negga,” referring to the Oscar-nominated star who’s name sounds similar to the N-word.
Maher, who is in his 15th season as host of Real Time, has not publicly responded to the controversy.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson