The political commentator and television host referred to the moment as a “comedian’s mistake.”In a recent interview with the New York Times, Bill Maher discussed the controversy that ensued following his use of the n-word during an episode of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher last month, where he called the moment 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.”
Maher continued on, adding “We don’t have to grovel, and we don’t have to admit things that aren’t true. 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.”
Maher returned to HBO despite the n-word controversy but at the very least he did not go unchecked. While promoting the re-release of his seminal Death Certificate album, Ice cube took the time to speak with Maher about his use of the word:
I accept your apology. But I still think we need to get to the root of the psyche. Because I think there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they a little too familiar—or they think they too familiar—or its guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two who made them some Kool-Aid every now and then, and they think they can cross the line. And they can’t. It’s a word that has been used against us; it’s like a knife, man. And you can use it as a weapon, or you can use it as a tool. It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody, because it’s not cool. Now, I know you heard [it], it’s in the lexicon and everybody’s talkin’, but that’s our word now. That’s our word now. And you can’t have it back. I know they’re tryin’ to get it back.