- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Al Sharpton says Bill Maher’s use of the N-word during his live HBO show was “disgraceful,” and demanded the late-night comedian be “held accountable” for his actions.

“I feel it was disgraceful,” Mr. Sharpton told TMZ. “I have a lot of respect for Bill. He’s a friend — been on his show many times, but he is totally wrong. This is outrageous. He must be held accountable. There is no joke about using the N-word.

“I’m very disappointed in Bill and I think that to just say it and apologize and not have some accountability is not enough,” he said. “They weren’t even talking about race. He just out of nowhere [said] this. You felt you got so comfortable with us that you can denigrate us?”

Mr. Maher was conducting a live interview Friday on “Real Time with Bill Maher” with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse when the comedian used the racial epithet while discussing the senator’s home state.

“I’ve got to get to Nebraska more,” Mr. Maher said.

“You’re welcome,” Mr. Sasse responded. “We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.”

“Work in the fields?” Mr. Maher replied. “Senator, I am a house [N-word].”

The exchange that aired live and uncensored has sparked widespread criticism, including from the TV host’s own employer.

“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless,” HBO’s executive vice president of corporate communications, Quentin Schaffer, said in a statement Saturday. “We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

Mr. Maher also issued an apology Saturday afternoon.

“Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show,” he said. “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.”

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