Al Sharpton says Bill Maher got off easy when he apologized for using a racial slur on last week’s episode of his HBO show Real Time.
“It was disgraceful,” Sharpton told TMZ of Maher. “I have a lot of respect for Bill. He’s a friend, I’ve 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 to just say it and apologize and not have some accountability is not enough,” the left-wing activist and former MSNBC anchor added.
On Friday’s episode of Real Time, Maher referred to himself as a “house ni**er.” The off-color comment sparked backlash on social media and calls for Maher’s firing by Sharpton and Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.
HBO issued a statement Saturday condemning Maher’s remarks, and promised that the slur would be edited out of future broadcasts of the show.
“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show,” the premium cable channel said.
Maher apologized in a statement Saturday, saying “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”
But Maher’s apology is meaningless, according to Sharpton.
“How do you get a pass for saying something like that?” Sharpton asked. “They weren’t even talking about race! He just out of nowhere took this–you felt you got so comfortable with us that you can denigrate us?”
However, Maher will apparently come out of this controversy unscathed.
His weekly show is scheduled to air Friday. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has pulled out of his scheduled appearance on the show this week in the wake of the controversy, but rapper Ice Cube, former Florida congressman David Jolly, journalist David Gregory, and Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, are all scheduled to appear on the next episode.