Bill Maher Says His N-Word Usage Was a Comedian’s Mistake

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization

Last month, when Bill Maher hurled the n-word during an episode of HBO’s Real Time, many of his supporters and friends, as well as social media, gave him a serious side eye, which was followed by accusations that he’s racist.


One of the few people to publicly hit back at Maher on his own show was Ice Cube. The rapper-turned-actor criticized Maher and said that he was getting a little too comfortable, especially since he dates black women, and that his comedy had been quite racist to begin with.

Now, in a New York Times interview, the talk show host says his comment was just a “comedian’s mistake.”

“I think most people understood that it was a comedian’s mistake, not a racist mistake,” Maher said. “Listen, I hope we had a teachable moment about race: trying to make something good from something bad. But maybe also about how to handle something like this: apologize sincerely if you’re wrong—and I was—and own it.

“We don’t have to grovel, and we don’t have to admit things that aren’t true, Maher continued. “When Ice Cube said something about my telling black jokes, I wasn’t going to be: ‘Oh, well, I made one mistake; I might as well admit mistakes I haven’t made.’ I’ve never made black jokes. I’ve made jokes about racists. But my fan base knows that, so it never went anywhere.”

When it came to losing his job, he said he didn’t feel that it was in jeopardy because of the lack of sponsors on HBO, unlike the last time he got fired from a show he hosted, on ABC—that time because of his 9/11 jokes.


I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens the next time Maher makes a “mistake.”

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).


hocuspocusoctopus says wash your damn hands

“I think most people understood that it was a comedian’s mistake, not a racist mistake...”

Oh fuck off. Everything he has said around this has been trying to distance himself from the action that he did. “Comedian mistake.” “We had a teachable moment.”

Get out with your overinflated sense of self. That wasn’t the first time he said the word. It wasn’t a slip. The “joke” didn’t even make sense. He wanted to say the wor because he had advocated in the past that he should be able to say that word and taunted a black woman on air with the word.

And now he’s going by the forgiveness playbook that white liberals follow to ensure other white liberals won’t be mad at them, marginalized people be damned.

And white allies wonder why they’re viewed with suspicion. It’s because you cling the worst kinds of people: a wolf on sheep’s clothing.