Bill Maher performed his apology for saying the n-word, is anyone buying it?

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Two Fridays ago, Bill Maher said the n-word, live, on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. It did not go over well. Many of us were appalled not just by his use of the word, but the ease with which he dropped it, like it was nothing, like he said it all the time. The context was (supposedly) “joking,” just two white guys talking about how Maher should come to Nebraska and work in the field, to which Maher said no, he would not work in the field because he’s a “house n—r.” I still find it so disgusting to write that out, that context. Ugh. So, Maher waited a day and then apologized, and HBO said words about how Maher’s words were unacceptable but they didn’t fire him and they’re not going to.

On Friday, June 9th, Maher appeared on Real Time for the first time since the controversy the week before. He booked the show so that he could properly “perform” an apology. His first guest was Michael Eric Dyson. Who is actually an interesting political commentator and race scholar/activist. The conversation was interesting and Dyson did what he could, but Maher wasn’t really sorry, and that’s the problem. Maher didn’t want to listen, he wanted to perform his apology, he wanted to perform this idea that he’s not a bad guy because he’s friends with Dyson. I like how Dyson explains white supremacy and white privilege, but Maher is too busy exemplifying both of those things to really get it.

Maher also chatted with Ice Cube and Symone Sanders on the panel part of the discussion. Even though I would not call Ice Cube a race scholar like Michael Eric Dyson, Cube did good work here, I have to admit. I loved that Cube said Maher sometimes sounds like a “redneck trucker,” because damn, ain’t that the truth. Also: “that’s our word now and you can’t have it back.” I think that’s the central issue. The chorus of white folks who are just so flummoxed that black people tell them over and over that NO, DO NOT USE THAT WORD and “this word is not for you anymore.” Just deal with it. Stop using the word. It really is that simple. Symone Sanders was also really good here.

So what will happen now? Nothing. Maher performed his thing and his fans still like him and HBO won’t fire him so there you go. The only good thing that came out of it was Michael Eric Dyson, Symone Sanders and Ice Cube were given platforms to fight the good fight and try to educate people.

Bill Maher during an appearance on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.'

Photos courtesy of WENN, NBC.

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85 Responses to “Bill Maher performed his apology for saying the n-word, is anyone buying it?”

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  1. fiorucci says:

    “Maher didn’t want to listen, he wanted to perform his apology, he wanted to perform this idea that he’s not a bad guy ” yes absolutely. It reeked of this. I did not expect him to be good at apologizing . If he could have just not interrupted the other guy that would have helped quite a bit. I don’t know any white people here in Canada who get butthurt about the n word. It’s very very easy to never say it. Maybe 2O years ago people didn’t understand why white people csnt say it while black people can but it’s been explained so many times. It’s probably been explained on sit coms late night shows day time talk shows… just something everyone should be aware of

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      I really hate hearing the word from ANYONE Black or White. I think some words just can’t be reclaimed, however I think Ice Cube’s explanation was the best: [paraphrased]that word is like a sharp knife stabbing you. It’s a tool that was used against us. It’s just different hearing it from my homies. Hearing it from someone White even though they might not be saying it to hurt us always feels like a knife cutting you.

      And I will always love Symone Sanders for pointing out that being a house slave was not some card to a better life. It was just as bad but in a different way, this was many Black women’s lot and they were essentially used as sex slaves and still beaten by both the slave owner and his wife. She talked about how often she would have to reassert others on the campaign trail that she IS Bernie Sanders spokeswoman. Some couldn’t get passed the fact that she was a Black woman so didn’t meant their image of a spokesperson for a presidential candidate.

      Yes I agree that Bill was too busy excusing himself to really listen. I cringed many times. He is one of the few White men on TV that in the last 20 has always had Black artists, intellectuals, and politicians *commonly* on his show as regular guests. Unlike other news shows who would have one token Black person and usually only when the topic of race is being discussed. Kerry Washington has the intellectual label because she was an activist who used to often go on his show and successful debate Republicans with facts and policies, leaving them in the dust. That said as Ice Cube and Dr Eric Dyson pointed out, his issue is one that White people who hang out with Black friends sometimes develop. They become too familiar and think they are one of us and that it’s OK to say things *some* Black people say to each other like the N-word. Hopefully it was educational to progressives who want to be allies.

      • lightpurple says:

        I came on this thread to point out what Symone said and that this was another instance of the fate of black women being erased. She made some excellent points.

      • t.fanty says:

        But, I think this is the value of having him stay on air. Because he is generally a supporter of diversity, he thinks this buys him a pass. I watched the show last night and he was clearly uncomfortable, because his image of himself (and his privilege) was challenged. These are the exact difficult conversations that need to be had, if we are to move forward united. To me, watching him have to sit through being told that his justifications aren’t adequate was absolutely more powerful than a written apology and keeping him off the air.

        People who use the word out of spite know damn well what they are doing and deserve everything that comes to them. People who use that word because they think they can without harm deserve slapping down and a little education. That’s what I saw when I watched it. You can be damn sure he won’t use that word again, even in jest, and watching him get told why is going to remind a lot of other ‘woke’ white people why it isn’t for them, either. I think that because of his branding as a provocative liberal voice, this was the exact right way to handle it.

        He is frequently an arrogant ass, but he also wields a lot of influence and I think there’s terrific value in watching a old white dude try to explain himself and having to hear “not good enough.” This is what debate and discussion is all about, and this type of conversation allows people to change, not just dig their heels in, in opposition.

      • SoonerOrLaterWeAllSleepAlone says:

        It occurred to me how important this national conversation is particularly among liberals. I grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood and most people said the N-word freely no matter what cultural affiliation. As an adult I would like to say that I’m “woke” and resist formative habits. I’ll admit I grew up racist although I am of Puerto Rican heritage. This said, I hear people of all races using the N-word because they are “fans of hip-hop” and or all things culturally black. For me the word is also a “knife” – I do not use now use it under any circumstance and my children have gotten major lectures about history-it is absolutely off-limits. They also know to school any peer who says that . But still I hear people say it – we need to establish the wrongness of this once and for all- Unless the person is of black culture and has made a personal choice to use &transform the word. So my point in this long response is that bill Maher is not the only white guy I’ve heard playfully co-opting this word. This broad conversation has been vital to our growth as liberals and progressives of all cultures.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        Agreed. He knows better but decided to value being ‘Funny&Edgy’ over oppression that a group of people he’s not a part of faced. There was a great article on The Root that mentioned him but was about racism and ‘free speech’ that’s definitely worth a read.

      • fiorucci says:

        I didn’t realize that about Kerry Washington! I’ve only been watching maher lately when i realized you can watch some of it on YouTube. I realize it’s still a controversial subject for Black people. My son, 9, learned the word from a Black friend in his class. He was nervous but excited to tell me about it, my kids get excited about any bad word. He said his friend taught him a word that’s only for black people. It really shocked me. Then I wondered how the other boy knew the word. Have his parents been verbally attacked on the street? Taught him for his protection in some way? Someone in his parents circle uses it casually? I explained that it’s worse than other bad words and it actually makes people very sad not just angry.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Fiorucci, I’m in Canada too and appreciate what you said. “It’s very very easy never to say it.” I was raised in the US and find this one of the key differences, in Canada some things that seem like basic politeness to avoid hurting others’ feelings – something that seems like common sense, like “Why would you do that if you know it bothers them?” – seem to some Americans like robbing them of their rights and freedoms. I wonder if this is how American aggressiveness turns into Canadian passive-aggressiveness… LOL.

      • fiorucci says:

        Oh gosh I hope no one is passive aggressive about this. We lose nothing by not being able to say one word…

  2. Aims says:

    Any time I hear that word I cringe . I believe words are powerful and they can set the tone for a positive or negative exchange . For a white , wealthy man to think he has the right to say that word shows that he does have a white privilege. And Bill said it so easily is alarming to me. I am a white woman and I have no idea the daily struggle African Americans go through and I’m deeply sympathetic for the mistreatment and injustice they face. I think Ice was very direct and correct in his explanation .

    • Esmom says:

      I know. I’m white and grew up in the 70s/80s and my mom, who I’d hardly call “woke,” especially being the Fox viewer she is today, impressed very strongly and repeatedly to never use the word. I always thought of it as one of life’s “golden rules.” Not sure where some of these people like Maher got the idea that it would be ok to use it.

      • adastraperaspera says:

        Same here. I grew up in rural Kansas in the 60s/70s. I never heard anyone speak that way.

  3. jferber says:

    Look, Maher made a mistake, he owned up to it, apologized and let’s all move on. ANYBODY can do stupid shit and he did. No question. But let’s re-focus on the war against humanity that is the Trump administration. Trump is the enemy of the people and the one to wreak havoc against the African-American community, women, the LBGT community, other non-white and non-Christian people, etc. And yes, Ice Cube did a great job of putting Maher in his place. Excellent dude.

    • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

      Nope. Like most adults, we can do more than one thing at once.

      It wasn’t a mistake to him until he got called out on it. Bill Maher is not the victim in this situation and people need to stop treating him as if he is one.

    • Merritt says:

      As I said in a previous post, the whole “but there are more important things going on in the world” excuse is deflection. People can care about multiple issues.

      Maher is a racist and he should not be on tv. I do not have to excuse his behavior because a bunch of people with white privilege think it is no big deal.

    • Suki says:

      He never actually apologized on the show. He assumed everyone read is previously prepared and released statement. I was thinking about this the whole time he was talking:

      Key quotes:

      “The entire discussion of race in America centers around the protection of White feelings.

      Ask any Black person and they’ll tell you the same thing. The reality of thousands of innocent people raped, shot, imprisoned, and systematically disenfranchised are less important than the suggestion that a single White person might be complicit in a racist system.

      This is the country we live in. Millions of Black lives are valued less than a single White person’s hurt feelings.”

      This is what Bill Maher was doing. Trying to defend his hurt feelings and trying to solicit praise (and a hall pass) for his perception that he is a good guy. All of Bill’s words were about Bill.

      • AMA1977 says:

        After watching it, my takeaway was this: Maher doesn’t understand that the fact that one apologizes doesn’t mean that said apology has to be accepted. I got a very strong vibe of “I said I was sorry, now can we just move on??” from the whole episode. I actually turned to my husband and remarked, “it’s abundantly clear to me that Bill Maher has never been married” because of his impatience with the reluctance of his guests to accept his apology immediately.

        I do think that Bill regrets hurting and offending people he likes and admires, like Dr. Dyson, and that he truly does support and believe in racial equality and harmony; he has shown as much for years. However, the point that Dr. Dyson made about such insult hurting more when it comes from an ally is so true, and I don’t know if Bill wrapped his head around that. I hope that with reflection, it resonates with him. I hope that some of the lib-bros that appreciate Bill Maher learned something from the grace and benevolence of Ms. Sanders, Dr. Dyson, and the always amazing Ice Cube.

  4. Beth says:

    I think it was sincere. My black aunt, cousin, and bf watched it with me and agreed. They were saying that since Ice Cube had been a member of the group N.W.A. that rapped about violence, killing, hurting cops, always saying the n word,and racism towards white people, maybe he wasn’t the right one to talk to Bill about the situation. I’ve never heard any of his music, so I didn’t know. I’d never use the word, and people should think before they speak

    • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

      A white man using the word knowing the full history of how whites used that word against blacks and a black man talking about his reality through music is not the same thing at all. I am really getting sick and tired of the false equivalencies and deflections being used in regards to this word. We can have discussions about the misogyny and violence in Ice Cube’s music but not when we are discussing a white person using that word. They are two different subjects and should not be conflated.There is never a good reason for a white person to use that word. Also, if you have never listened to Ice Cube’s music, how can you have an opinion about it.

      Racism towards white people does not exist. Blacks and other non-whites can be bigots; yes, all ethnic groups can have prejudices, but not everyone can be racist in the US. Racist does not equal “person who thinks bad things about other groups that they are not a part of ” that is what a bigot is. Racism is a larger word with larger consequences in our society. Reducing racism down so that it is a catch-all for everyone with a prejudice is wrongheaded and rewrites history to take the burden off whites. This type of thinking is not going to stop the negative
      and sometimes deadly consequences of racism against non-whites, it just makes whites feel better and keeps them in their bubble. This sort of thinking supports white supremacy, not get rid of it.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Thanks for taking the time to write this out. It’s like sexism: It’s directed against women and girls, not men and boys.

      • Chigirlie says:

        Very well said, informative, and intelligent response. Keep up the good fight on helping to educate those who don’t understand.

      • Beth says:

        I said I haven’t listened to N.W.A music so I didn’t know anything about them meaning I have NO opinion about them. Half of my family is black or Native American. My cousins husband is a Muslim originally from Morocco. I love my whole family . I hold nothing against an entire race or religion because of something a couple of people did. I have never and would never use a racist word. That’s cold and heartless.

        It is possible for a white to not be racist! People of any race can be though. A black lady I didn’t know was talking with me about our boyfriends. She showed me a picture, and I showed her one. Out of nowhere, she said she was sick of “privileged white bitches” and “crackers ” taking the few good black guys there are. That’s an upsetting attitude for her to have. There are millions of great guys in every race and religion.
        My black bf was shot and paralyzed by a black drug dealer. That happens when whites shoot whites too. I’m proud that he didn’t let that slow him down. After this happened, he went through 7 years of college and became a lawyer.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:


        It is almost as if you did not read everything I wrote, so that you can go “Not All White People” on me, which is rude and dismissive. Some of you white people take any small critique as a personal attack against you. You fail to see the main idea and become more focused on defending yourself against some perceived attack instead of paying attention the main idea of the argument. As if you being insulted is equal to or more important than the injustice happening to the non-white person.

        Your anecdote hits on two key points in my argument that completely went over your head: 1) white people confusing being a bigot with being a racist. what the black lady said to you was bigoted and hurtful to you, but the big difference is that her opinion is not going to get you killed; it just makes you uncomfortable. One is not the same as the other and the fact that you cannot see the difference says a lot. The fact that you think being called a honky is even remotely the same as being called a n-gger, given the full history of both words is sad. Get out of your bubble.

        2) Deflecting. What does your black boyfriend being shot have to do with Bill Maher being a dick and using that word? Ans. Nothing. Nothing at all. It is great that he overcame all of that, but it has nothing to do with what this thread is about.

      • Magnoliarose says:

        @Beth I didn’t see where anyone said all white people are racist. I think maybe there is a little projection on your part. There are people who think that but I didn’t see it written here.
        What I am reading is some frustration. There is a double standard in our culture and it is so built in it is hard to grasp at first but once you do it is overwhelming. What that lady said to you wasn’t nice but it in no way compares to what it would mean if a white person said that to a black person. Our words carry history with it in this country. We have to stop and just face the fact that our society has been gross and unjust to a staggering degree.
        An example of this kind of defensiveness was when people started saying All lives matter to counter Black lives matter. Why? How disgusting is that when you think about it. They aren’t saying that ONLY black lives matter but we ALSO matter. How is that remotely offensive. Some white people get all bent out of shape when black people stand up for themselves or express their feelings.
        Just look at the Confederate monuments argument. Why is it even an issue? That is not something to be proud of. It is history but fighting to keep stolen people in chains and exploited is shameful. There is no glory in that.
        So when you bring up the lady it is against the backdrop of history, mass incarceration, police shootings, voter suppression, racial profiling, unfair school systems and so much more. It is not equal and no one’s life changed.
        We can’t claim racism. Period. There is no system in place to keep white people down.

      • Aren says:

        It’s very true what Aiobhan said.
        Same as a woman claiming to be a feminist is not a threat in the same way or form as a man claiming to be a misogynist or even a mannist.
        The power relations are not the same, a white man can kill a black person and get away with it, a black man runs the risk of getting killed just because he’s black.

      • anon says:

        What in the world are you talking about? Racism towards whites exists! If you didn’t know, whites were captured as slaves by Africans and Arabs, long before the West brought African slaves. Look at what’s happening in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and then tell me racism towards’ whites doesn’t exist. It’s just a made up notion for us, people of color, to justify our racism towards white people.

    • tanesha86 says:


      Why do you feel the need to keep throwing in the fact that you have black people in your family? Is that supposed to validate your opinion on the issue? Not asking to be a jerk I’m just sincerely trying to understand why you felt that qualifier was even necessary…

    • KJA says:

      It’s not for anyone to decide how a black person decides to reclaim that word. Let’s not play respectability politics on who’s allowed to call out Maher for using that word. Ice was articulate, and all things considered, probably nicer about it than I would have been. Maher didn’t help himself by being defensive-he f’d up-he should have just taken the L and been humble.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    Unsurprisingly, Bill Mayer continues to be the tone deaf worst.

    And now that he’s gotten his “apology” out amongst actual black people, we can all just move on, I guess. ::sarcasm::

    God, what an ass.

  6. manda says:

    Bill Maher is an unfunny and sleazy guy, but he has good guests on his show fairly often. I’ve often felt conflicted watching the show, because I am so repulsed by him, but the guests make up for it. Meaning, I usually only really tune in for the panel. Sometimes the one-on-one interview. I can’t stand the part at the end where he goes on a monolog about a bunch of things–it’s never very funny and seems to be longer this season? He’s too full of himself to really get it, at all, but I will continue to turn it on if there’s nothing else on

    • Lexilla says:

      I agree — Maher’s humor is smarmy and juvenile. I can’t watch, even for the guests. John Oliver all day every day. (And on most days Trevor Noah too, whom I’ve grown to like despite his twidiot history.)

    • Coco says:

      I feel the same way. Maher is way too smarmy for my taste but I really appreciate the guests he has on so I’ll continue to listen (I subscribe to the podcast version of the show). My husband said last night after we listened in the car “it sure seemed difficult for Bill to apologize”. True. It was embarrassing how he kept interrupting the first guest to disagree that he wasn’t that bad. Cringe.

    • PunkyMomma says:

      Count me in with this opinion, too. In this past, I felt that despite his smarmy attitude and pothead giggling, he provided some service in that he attracted some interesting points of view. I’m of the mind that in the future, Maher is going to have more difficulty booking guests. I was watching the live broadcast last Friday when Maher made this comment and I was shocked at how easily it came out of his mouth. I’ve been watching Maher for years — back to the days of Politically Incorrect, and he hasn’t changed his schtick at all — he is still sleazy, smug and often condescending to his guests or towards his audience. HBO should have cut him loose.

      Watching the show Friday, I thought to myself, nope, he’s not sorry. Click. Back to Lawrence O’Donnell.

  7. Wilma says:

    I think Ice Cube was right when he told Maher that he should investigate some more why exactly he used that word. Because apologizing without knowing why you said (as Maher claims) means you’re not reallt feeling that apology.

  8. Cleo says:

    Yes, all praise to Dyson and Ice Cube, but they shouldn’t have to have the “job” of going on television and having “debates” with some privileged white asshole about whether or not to use the N-word. This shouldn’t be a thing that happened and I’m still appalled by some of the people on here that were trying to normalize it. It speaks to my own privilege that I WAS appalled.

    And no, Maher is of no use against Trump. To say that he is is delusional.

    • QQ says:

      But Don’t you know Cleo… that’s how we are /become “elevated” and “people of Value” to a Lot of people in this country.. by doing all the toiling, masticating and digesting and regurgitating and gently not too loud “educating” white people that act like Google, Common Sense and their own curiosity dont exist!… Sh8t don’t go too far.. Look at the comment sections here any time a black topic is raised ( be it Black Hair, Beyonce, BLM, just Name.IT!) … Look for the black and the brown girls.. Writing and writing trying to educate, explain, discuss.. that’s our Value to a LOT of people in this country.. Like if we’re not gonna be sweet kind even nature, gracious translators of our world, wtf good are we?, we aren’t as pretty as, we aren’t as smart as as respected as as decent as, as blame free as________…. so Really If we’re not handling the physical labor for free.99 what IS the value of Our Humanity to our Liberal “friends”(nemies)

  9. Eric says:

    I guess Bill can’t win on this despite having Mr Dyson and Mr Cube on specifically to discuss it.

    • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

      He can invite them on to talk all he wants. Doesn’t mean a damn thing if he doesn’t listen and respect what they have to say.

      • alecsma says:

        Completely agree. There was no sincerity in his apology. He said the words and wanted to move on.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Honestly I like the show but I cringed through the whole last episode. No matter how he actually felt he should have just nodded and agreed and sucked it up. Instead he kept interrupting them with “but, but, but…” and when Ice Cube was talking he literally had a pout face on like a child being lectured. It gave me second hand embarrassment. He would have fared so much better if he just had sat there and not interrupted and just kept nodding. Easy-peezy. The fact that he kept trying to argue it just made him look worse. Grow up Bill!!!!

  10. Alex says:

    Once again it’s on black people to educate white people as if we haven’t had this conversation over and over for years.
    HEs still an Islamophobic, racist tool. So no this changes nothing. I’m sure some liberals will be falling all over him again next week.

    • Cleo says:


    • Kate says:

      The emotional labor that is asked of black people is staggering.

      • Ksenia says:

        And it shouldn’t have to be difficult! It’s just so maddening: What the HELL is so hard about refraining from using ONE word, an offensive, dehumanizing, deeply hurtful and grotesque word that has NO need to be spoken whatsoever? If some whites (not all of us) can’t even learn not to use a single, hateful WORD, I can only imagine how hard/outrageous it must feel to think of teaching whites anything at all. And, of course, blacks should not have to be in the position of schooling whites on racism to start with.

  11. anniefannie says:

    As a big Maher fan ( no question he can be an ass but his wit slays me ) I was extremely uncomfortable w/his defensiveness. Humility is not his thing and this was the occasion wether he liked it or not. He’s gone waaaay down in my estimation.
    OT I’m watching Nadal in the French open and consoling myself w/naughty thoughts….

  12. Snowflake says:

    I didn’t feel like Bill really listened to what they said. I think he feels because he dates black women, he feels he gets a pass maybe, and that it was just an unfunny joke and wants to move on. He doesn’t seem to get why people are upset. It was really good the way Ice Cube explained it.I never thought that a white person saying it would be like a knife stabbing you because of the history involved. I don’t get why people feel upset they can’t use the word. I’m white, I would never use it. If something hurts, why is it so hard not to use it? I think the people who say, oh, we can’t use, why can they? Are just pissed because they feel black people are trying to tell them what to do so they’re going to resist. Jmo.

    • tanesha86 says:

      +1000 you are dead right

    • Birdix says:

      Completely agree. He totally glossed over the idea of white privilege and kept saying it was a simple mistake. And he’s been on for decades and he’s a comedian, which makes him different and special, etc. He has a thousand excuses so he can maintain his self-image (narcissistic).

  13. tanesha86 says:

    I’m finding myself really angry with all these liberals, mostly white liberals, telling people they need to “accept his apology and move on” because “we’ve got more important issues to focus on”. I will not give this man a pass nor will accept his insincere apology when he clearly doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. And to all my fellow black people making excuses for Maher and falling over themselves to forgive him because he’s “one of the good guys who looks out for people of color” shame on you. Wake up and pay attention to what this man is really about.

    • Aiobhan Targaryen says:


    • Meredith says:

      Totally agree. Bill Maher has been a racist and sexist POS for a looooong time. I can’t believe how many otherwise progressive people defend him. And the “joke” he made, he could have just as easily said “house slave.” It still wouldn’t have been funny, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as it was. But I don’t trust any white person (and I am a white person) who can so casually drop an n-bomb. It’s not that hard to not say it.

    • Alex says:

      THIS. It’s easy to let it go when it doesn’t effect you at all

  14. Truthie says:

    It’s not an OK word and he is not doing enough. The way he snapped his fingers and slapped his hands during this show quite bothered me. It betrayed a larger anger lurking. Which means he still doesn’t get the big picture. Quel surprise, no?

  15. Magnoliarose says:

    I think he is sorry but doesn’t get the problem. I don’t think he understands how hurtful it is or why. I think he is apologizing for saying it but not for the effect it had. He is stuck in race relations 1990 when white people felt vindicated by simply having black friends. It was enough to like black people and think racism is wrong and listen to hip hop or idolize Michael Jordan. But the conversation never really happened and white people could feel good and tolerant without confronting questionable beliefs. He was condescending. It would have been better if he had listened and asked some deeper questions but he just wanted it all to go away.
    Rep. Jolly made me cringe and shake my head.

  16. Talie says:

    I believe his show doesn’t have advertisers, so traditional methods that work for network stars who screw up wouldn’t work for him. Whether he was sincere or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that all the famous people who go on his show were defending him and he is part of an elite club. No one of real power came out against him. Even Oprah, when asked, was tepid in her criticism.

    • lightpurple says:

      Actually, no, they weren’t all defending him. Al Franken was scheduled for Friday and canceled.

  17. Kate says:

    Performative apology. He’s done it before, he’ll do it after and many white ‘progressives’ will fall over themselves to defend him once again. Next.

  18. Radley says:

    I’m seeing comments about mixed feelings and being uncomfortable with Bill but appreciating the forum he gives to diverse opinions. I think then he’s doing his job. And he’s being honest as a problematic white guy. Imo, he should stay on the air. He represents a complicated and uncomfortable conversation we need to continue having.

    He’s also had guests on that challenged his blatant Islamophobia, too. He’s still in denial about it. He’s still ignorant. But the conversation is happening and millions get to watch, listen and think. There’s value in that.

    We have to get out of the mindset that you have to cosign someone’s entire existence in order to justify any potential elucidating take-aways. That’s immature and untrue.

    However, there are people with no demonstrable redeeming values out there, like Trump. I do think Maher’s show still has value even though as a person he needs work, to put it kindly.

    • Miss M says:

      I agree with what you and T. Fanty (upthread) said.
      I do watch his show. I think he brings incredible guests who are really good, know their topics, and keep the discussion going in a civilized way.
      I had a different interpretation of his reaction. As T. fanty pointed out, I noticed he seemed uncomfortable (and dare I say embarrassed) and I think it is a good thing. You are only uncomfortable when you get out of your comfort zone and , in his case, his “know at all attitude”. This to me showed he wanted to understand. He was struggling to understand and I guess once both Ice Cube and Symone Sanders shared their opinions ( in a very straight forward way), it hit him that, in fact, he didn’t understand the implications of it.
      I appreciate the conversation and I hope he brings more guests that keeps tough topics going. We can only move forward if we truly talk about it and understand it.

  19. tw says:

    I like Bill and think we need more people out there like him. Is he flawed? Yes. Was what he said wrong? Absolutely. He is someone who lives on that line and he crossed it, but silencing him does more harm than good.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      He’s doing nothing to inspire Paul Ryan to file articles of impeachment, encourage the Supreme Court to reinstate voting rights, or shame Mitch McConnell into … well, anything.
      He’s helping white liberals feel better about themselves because they watch him and it makes them feel like they’re doing something. Other hosts can bring on the same caliber of guests, facilitate discussion, and not actually say hurtful things.

      • tw says:

        It’s not OK to make generalizations about any group of people, including “white liberals.”

  20. Maria F. says:

    I am sorry, but I grew up in Germany and in our English class it was already explained to us how horrible that word is. Then I moved to the US and that fact kept being made clear to me over and over again, although at the end of the day, you only need to hear the explanation once and then you got it.

    So yeah, I do not see how you can excuse him. If a liberal white man living in LA and being part of Hollywood and on top of it with friends in the black community uses that word, well, then he has not understood the underlying issue or does not care about it at all.

    I would never excuse a man in my inner circle using the b word towards me. That should never happen and once it does, I know what to think of that person. Simple as that.

    • tanesha86 says:

      I’m sorry but do you have an actual argument to make about what I said or are you just here to deflect, distract and derail the discussion? I’m tired of the “not all white people” bs. If you were not one of those defending Bill Maher then my statement obviously was not about you.

    • Ksenia says:

      Maria F: Completely agreed. And there is something incredibly, bafflingly wrong about someone who apparently feels the irresistible urge to speak such a terrible word. And it’s all so simple: it’s based on compassion for others. If I am hurting someone with a word or words and they tell me so, why would I *want* to keep saying it, knowing I was causing suffering? Bill Maher’s smug, glib demeanor is unbearable. I see no humility in him, no actual, visceral comprehension of how hurtful he has been. When it comes to human empathy and care and any kind of remorse, this man is in far over his head. Perhaps that’s why he is as relentlessly shallow as he is.

  21. Mary says:

    I have always felt he gets away with way too much. His apology was complete crap and I don’t believe he is sorry or that he believes he did anything wrong. He apologized because he had to, not because it was the right thing to do or out of sincerity.

  22. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    He continually dismisses his words as (paraphrased) “I wasn’t thinking” and “it was just the one time”. If that was his reflex, if it was his instinct, then it’s not innocent. There’s a mentality needed for the thought process that made that come so quickly to him.

  23. Connell says:

    I thought Cube was great, everything he said was on point, but Maher is not a red neck guy. I live in the south. Maher has a New York background, partially J. HBO has to find someone to replace him, so he’ll probably finish out the season. There is a lot about Maher, in the past, I have thought was rather fake. I just don’t think he’s a very nice person. I’ll be glad to see him go. HBO can do better.

    • fiorucci says:

      I didn’t realize Ice cube was an interesting “politics” guest at all.(or that he’s kind of tiny looking?) I would check out his other interviews after seeing this. But I thought red neck was the wrong word too. BM sounds condecesnding and like an insensitive know it all sometimes. Truckers dont make awkward (maybe somewhat sophisticated yet unfunny) jokes about slavery.

  24. Harryg says:

    This show made a lot of people uncomfortable. Isn’t that what a good talk show is supposed to do? Maher’s and John Oliver’s are the two best shows at the moment.

    • fiorucci says:

      I agree these 2 and seth Meyers are the shows I like best. JO Comes off soooo much more likeable. And some topics are awesome like the one on Tibet. But then Mahers topics are always what I’m already interested in.

  25. Nina says:

    He clearly wasn’t sorry. He didn’t listen to what was being said by his guests. He was obviously impatient with Ice Cube and checked out — at one point, he was like ‘the people at home think this point has been made’. People at home my ass — YOU just didn’t want to have to listen to it anymore, Bill and this was clearly evident when he interrupted the conversation to be like ‘..but hey, let’s promote your album before we run out of time.’

    He should have recognized that the issue at hand was more important than promoting an album. He was not engaged in the discussion at all, he was not sorry and he was just there ‘taking it’ because HBO told him to. I could practically see him rolling his eyes at various points.

  26. someone says:

    I think it was just a mistake, I have been watching Bill for many years, and I do not think he racist, he made a mistake, apologized for it many times..Let it go….

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      It was at the least highly insensitive. And that insensititivity comes from ignorance, which is something different than an accident or mistake. The ones he was insensitive to should be the ones to decide when it’s time to let it go. Someone not on the receiving end of the offence saying to let it go is, itself, insensitive.

    • tw says:


    • AlmondJoy says:

      The way the word slipped so easily off his tongue indicates that it wasn’t a mistake. It’s clearly a word that he’s in the habit of using. He thought it was ok to say and he thought it was funny… it wasn’t. Yes he apologized but did so because he got called out on it.

      You don’t get to tell those who were hurt by his words to “let it go.”

      • Miss M says:

        As Ice Cube pointed out, many white people who dates black people (this was towards Bill whi dates black women) think it is OK to use the word. I think it dinally hit him it is not OK for him, a white rich man, to use this word no matter how many balck friends he has or how many black women he dates.

  27. KemTen says:

    Is it me or did he just dismiss Symone barely acknowledging her point? Bill may not have been racist before, but during this interview he sure is. He’s really not listening he’s Chris Browning the situation. Wants us to just accept his apology and move because he said sorry,

  28. Kath says:

    Yeah, at a certain point Bill Maher needed to STFU and take his medicine. I wondered how Bill was going to take being set straight, given that he is quite the arrogant sod and ALWAYS thinks he is in the right. The constant defensiveness and excuses were bloody annoying.

    That said, I watch his show every week and think it provides a valuable platform for voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard. The only reason I – as an Australian viewer – know who Jelani Cobb, Maya Wiley, Angela Rye and the very awesome Heather McGhee are, is simply because they’ve appeared on ‘Real Time’.

    Michael Eric Dyson is a nice guy and an impressive scholar, but I thought it was Ice Cube who provided the necessary kick up the arse. Bill looked like he was near tears at a couple of points, but then tended to deflect again, which was annoying. Ice Cube put it best when he said “you got too comfortable”. Being friends with black people and dating black women does not give you a ‘pass’ to use bigoted language in any way, shape or form.

    I’m a big fan of ‘Real Time’, but often find Bill Maher intolerable. The man is a walking contradiction. He’s one of the most consistent voices on climate change and the need to listen to scientists, but then comes up with the most ridiculous quackery-anti-vaxx nonsense when it comes to health, happily ignoring evidence-based science in that field. Similarly, he has THE smartest, most amazing women on his show (Elizabeth Warren, Rebecca Traister, Joy Reid, Symone Sanders, Hanna Rosin et al.) and doesn’t talk down to them, but his personal life is just bizarre and he seems to go for the youngest, least ‘powerful’ women he can find.

    So, I hope his show continues as a platform for anti-Trumpism and some much needed political perspective at the end of the week, but the guy really needs to learn some humility. I hope this was the turning point.

  29. helonearth says:

    Another older, rich, privileged white guy who doesn’t listen.

    Can’t these men just retire already? I’m fed up hearing from them and about them.

  30. annaloo. says:

    I think Bill Maher fetishisizes black culture, imposes his sense of what he thinks “being black” is and doesn’t really get why he had to apologize.

    Do I think his contrition was sincere? No. Do I think he should lose his show? No. Do I like him? No.

    So does Paula Deen gets a pass now?

    I hate this word in all contexts. I’m a black woman who thinks no one of any self respect should use it – for decency reasons. Can we please repost David Oyelowe’s essay on the n word?

  31. Chaz says:

    I grew up surrounded by my parents military and civilian colleagues. Overseas there tended to be a mixed bunch from everywhere.
    All shapes, colours, races and religions. We were taught or shown that everyone is the same, with the exception of assholes. You can be an asshole no matter what colour, race or religion and then you treat the asshole accordingly.
    My parents never used that word. It isn’t part of my vocabulary and hence not part of my children’s either.