Saturday, June 3, 2017

HBO under pressure to fire Bill Maher after he says N-word on TV show

Real Time host was speaking to Nebraska senator Ben Sasse 
when he used the word, which was met by laughter and applause

 Bill Maher did not immediately comment on the calls for him to be fired from his talkshow Real Time. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

HBO is facing calls to fire Bill Maher from his talkshow after he used the N-word in a conversation with the Nebraska senator, Ben Sasse.

Discussing his new book on Friday evening, Sasse told Maher the TV host would be welcome in Nebraska as “we’d love to have you work in the fields with us”.

“Work in the fields?” Maher replied. “Senator, I’m a house nigger.”

The Real Time with Bill Maher audience laughed and groaned, with some applause. Sasse kept quiet, before Maher said: “No, it’s a joke.”

DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate, led the criticism on social media. “Bill Maher has got to go,” he wrote. “There are no explanations that make this acceptable.”

McKesson added: “And why does the audience think it was OK to laugh? And Ben Sasse doesn’t even flinch. What is happening in the world?

Trump has undeniably moved the posts re: what is acceptable in political discourse but we can’t sit idly by, as discourse breeds actions.”

Maher did not immediately comment in response to media inquiries. On Saturday, Sasse gave his view in a series of linked tweets.

“Am walking off a redeye from [Los Angeles International Airport],” he wrote, before offering “three reflections on Bill Maher”.

“I’m a first amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word. Me just cringing last night wasn’t good enough.

“Here’s what I wish I’d been quick enough to say in the moment: “Hold up, why would you think it’s OK to use that word?...

“... The history of the N-word is an attack on universal human dignity. It’s therefore an attack on the American Creed. Don’t use it.”

The pressure on Maher follows CNN’s firing of the comedian Kathy Griffin, who said at a press conference on Friday that Donald Trump was “trying to ruin my life for ever” after she was pictured holding a mock-up of the US president’s severed head.

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