Al Franken Bails on Bill Maher After Much-Condemned On-Air Usage of the N-Word

Minnesota democratic senator Al Franken was scheduled to appear on Late Night With Bill Maher this coming Friday — it would’ve been one of his many appearances on the show. But after the “provocative”  smugly Islamophobic late night host who single-handedly brought down who took credit for bringing down Milo Yiannopolous drew condemnation for using the N-word in an improvised joke last Friday, Franken has canceled his appearance. A statement from Franken’s spokesman, Michael Dale-Stein, cited in the New York Times, reads:

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.

Maher, who often (sometimes understandably…until something like this joke happens) defends against the fast culture to “take offense” to jokes, here apologized pretty immediately, as it would’ve been worse still to go on the defensive about this one. He said on Saturday, a day after his joke aired, (and just after HBO itself released a statement calling it “completely inexcusable and tasteless”), in a statement released by his publicist, “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. 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.”

Franken seems to be on a streak of distancing himself from comedians who’ve (incidentally, in totally unfunny ways) courted outrage: Franken recently announced that Kathy Griffin would no longer be accompanying him at an event promoting his book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, following her photo-opp with what looked like a severed Donald Trump head.