Maher ‘Very Sorry’ for Using Racial Epithet on Show, HBO Calls It ‘Inexcusable’

Bill Maher / Wikimedia Commons

HBO late-night host Bill Maher has apologized for using a racial slur on the Friday night broadcast of his show that drew outrage and a rebuke from his own employer.

Maher, the longtime left-leaning host of "Real Time With Bill Maher," quipped "I'm a house nigger" during an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.). Maher is white.

Speaking with Maher about his new book, Sasse invited the comedian to come "work in the fields with us" at some point.

"I’ve got to get to Nebraska more," Maher said.

"You’re welcome," Sasse said. "We’d love to have you work in the fields with us."

"Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger," Maher said, as a mix of groans and laughter came from the audience. "No, it’s a joke."

However, the comment went viral and Maher received sharp criticism from across the aisle.

"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," he said in a statement. "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."

Maher is known for pushing the envelope of good taste on his show. He mimicked Ivanka Trump, the First Daughter of the United States, giving her father a hand-job last month.

HBO condemned Maher and announced that his comment would be excised from future airings of that episode.

"Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless," the network said. "We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show."

Sasse smiled uncomfortably at the remark, but he received flack afterwards for not denouncing the remark in real time.

For his part, Sasse tweeted afterwards he felt he should have responded to the remark with more than a cringed look on his face.