Al Franken Backs Out of Bill Maher Show in Wake of N-Word Backlash

Senator was scheduled to appear on Friday’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher”

Last Updated: June 5, 2017 @ 2:01 PM

Senator Al Franken will no longer be appearing on Friday’s episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher,” in the latest sign of backlash to Maher’s use of the N-word on last week’s show.

A spokesperson for Franken confirmed the decision to the Huffington Post in a statement: “Senator Franken believes that what Bill Maher said was inappropriate and offensive, which is why he made the decision not to appear on the next episode of ‘Real Time.’ He was glad to see Bill, who the Senator considers to be a good friend, apologize and express sincere regret for his comment.”

On Friday’s episode of the HBO show, Maher joked that he was a “house n—-r” while speaking with Republican Senator Ben Sasse, a guest on the talk program. Maher later apologized for his remark, calling his use of the term “offensive.”

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

HBO issued a statement immediately following the episode, blasting his comment as “tasteless” and “completely inexcusable” and removing that portion of the interview from future broadcasts.

Symone Sanders, an activist and former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, is still scheduled to appear on Friday’s episode. She stressed in an email to the Huffington Post that she hopes to discuss Maher’s use of the racial slur.

“I thought Maher’s comment, Ben Sasse’s reaction and the crowd’s applause were all equally distasteful, inappropriate and offensive,” she said. “I am glad Maher too recognized as such and issued an apology.

“I look forward to a dialogue about it and other pressing issues of the week on Friday. The -word is not a joke to be thrown about and it is never OK to make light of slavery and/or the experiences of enslaved people.”

Ice Cube, former Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) and journalist David Gregory are also scheduled to join her as guests.

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