Bill Maher is the Teflon comic.
It appears the late-night host, who dropped the N-word during his Friday broadcast, has escaped unscathed from controversy once again, with HBO backing the comic and confirming his show will air as normal this coming Friday.
Despite multiple calls for the cancellation of Maher’s Real Time on social media, and the hashtag #FireBillMaher trending on Twitter, HBO has refused to buckle.
Indeed, the only tangible price Maher seems to have paid so far is the the loss of one booked guest on Friday: Sen. Al Franken.
“[He] believes that what Maher said was inappropriate and offensive, which is why he made the decision not to appear,” a statement issued on Franken’s behalf said, adding that Maher was a “good friend” saying, “He was glad to see Bill, who the senator considers to be a good friend, apologize and express sincere regret for his comment.”
In a brief statement Saturday, Maher said he should not have used the derogatory term “in the banter of a live moment,” adding, “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”
Despite intense criticism of Maher, others have leapt to his defense post-apology. Former CNN host Larry King said he’s been Maher’s friend for years and said “there’s not a racist bone” in his body.
“Let’s accept his apology and move on,” King said.
Another booked guest on Friday’s show, Symone Sanders, an activist and former national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, plans to attend, although she hopes to have a discourse about Maher’s use of the “n-word.”
“I am still planning on doing the show Friday,” she said in an email to The Huffington Post. “I thought Maher’s comment, Ben Sasse’s reaction, and the crowd’s applause were all equally distasteful, inappropriate, and offensive. I am glad Maher too recognized as such and issued an apology.”
“I look forward to a dialogue about it and other pressing issues of the week on Friday,” Sanders continued. “The n-word is not a joke to be thrown about and it is never OK to make light of slavery and/or the experiences of enslaved people.”
Ice Cube is among other guests scheduled to appear on Friday’s episode and has not canceled.
The debacle unfolded after Sasse invited Maher to come work “in the fields” with him in the senator’s home state.
“In the fields?” Maher replied on the live broadcast. “Senator, I’m a house n—–r.”
When the comment was greeted by groans, Maher asserted, “It’s a joke.”
And it seems HBO have clocked that fact.