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Bill Maher Uses Racial Slur on ‘Real Time’

Some audience members were heard to groan while others clapped. Neither Mr. Maher nor Mr. Sasse addressed the comments further, and the conversation moved to other subjects.

The epithet was not bleeped out when the episode was rebroadcast at midnight.

On social media, Mr. Maher’s remarks were criticized by viewers across the political spectrum.

DeRay Mckesson, a prominent activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote on his Twitter account: “But really, @BillMaher has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable.”

Jack Posobiec, an alt-right activist and commentator, wrote on Twitter, “Racist Bill Maher must be fired and @BenSasse must be held accountable for his endorsement of the n-word.”

Other commenters on social media posted tweets asking why Mr. Sasse did not immediately take issue with Mr. Maher’s remarks.

Mr. Maher, who is in his 15th season of hosting “Real Time,” has been criticized for making comments on his show and in his comedy act that have been perceived as Islamophobic, and for giving a platform to controversial figures like the incendiary right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

A press representative for HBO on Friday night referred questions to Mr. Maher’s personal publicists, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On his Twitter account Saturday, Mr. Sasse posted “reflections” on the controversy, including: “I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist….

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