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.”