×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Real Time’ Doesn’t Need to Go, But Bill Maher Should Be Fired (Opinion)

HBO should continue to air a roundtable show about current events, a forum for the witty and wise to air their views, complete with F-bombs.

But Bill Maher shouldn’t be part of it. Whether or not “Real Time” continues, Maher should be fired.

Not just for his indefensible use of the n-word on Friday’s edition of “Real Time.” Though, as last straws go, that’s more of an enormous hay bale. It’s beyond ridiculous to think that any white person, in public life or out of it, would think it’s acceptable to use that word. How can anyone take Maher seriously, on any topic, if he’s too oblivious, arrogant, and condescending to know that?

Use of that word by Maher was racist, full stop. And it’s just the latest in a very long string of racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic, and transphobic things Maher has said or tacitly encouraged (all of which makes his inevitable apology ring very hollow).

Months ago, he had the racist, sexist, hate-peddling clownshow Milo Yiannopoulos on his program, and that should have been a fireable offense. The views of the dangerously intolerant are not exactly hurting for outlets, especially given who our President is. But women and people of color who have had Milo’s number for years were not surprised to see their concerns dismissed. That happens a lot. White men of Maher’s age and class get away with being able to take the stance that they are speaking truth to power by entertaining certain brands of intolerant idiocy. That Maher speaks truth to power by chumming it up with repugnant men like Milo is debatable. That Maher is doing his cushy job from inside an enormous fortress of privilege is not.

Lines are being redrawn all over the place of late, and the shifting of popular opinion has caught many comics and commentators by surprise. Kathy Griffin provoked a whirlwind of her own with her recent antics, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all ultimately shakes out for her. She almost immediately lost her TV gig (the CNN New Year’s Eve show) over the Trump flap, and yet there’s a chance that Maher will not lose his job over a far more unacceptable act. That’s not the first or last time a woman will receive far harsher punishment than a man for her perceived transgression.

Griffin was making a satirical statement that may or may not have worked, depending on your taste or perspective. But Maher is a repeat offender, and he’s shown little remorse for his actions.

Political and social mores may be changing, but something else is going on. People who were voiceless and easily ignored now have more ways to speak up and speak out. Those who were never OK with offensive statements Maher has made over the years now have more ways to make their objections known. And the social media trends that empower them are joining their voices into a loud chorus.

So HBO has a choice: Stand by a host who has engaged in a pattern of racist and offensive statements.

Or, take this opportunity to jettison a frequently embarrassing asset — and start fresh. It would not just be a smart business move. During an era of rising hate crimes and open intolerance at the highest levels of American government, it could send a powerful statement about what matters to one of the most powerful media entities in the world.

Which side are you on, HBO?

More TV

  • Charmed -- "Let This Mother Out"

    'Charmed' Showrunner Exits, Craig Shapiro & Elizabeth Kruger Board Series

    The CW’s reboot of “Charmed” is changing showrunners. Variety has learned that Carter Covington has stepped down as showrunner on the series, which has already been renewed for a second season. Husband and wife team Craig Shapiro and Elizabeth Kruger have been brought on to helm the series going forward. Shapiro and Kruger are currently [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Reese Witherspoon Jennifer

    What We Know About 'Amazing Stories' And Other Shows Coming to Apple TV+

    Viewers got a sneak peek of upcoming shows coming to Apple TV+, Apple’s newly unveiled streaming service, during the company’s live-streamed event in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday. The stars and creators of the most highly anticipated projects like Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and “The Morning Show” from Reese Witherspoon appeared on stage to reveal more [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    Richard Gere Series 'MotherFatherSon' Sold to Multiple Territories

    BBC Studios, the British public broadcaster’s commercial arm, has announced a raft of territory sales for Richard Gere starrer “MotherFatherSon,” a drama series written by Tom Rob Smith, Emmy-nominated for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” The show will screen Tuesday at Series Mania, France, in the International Panorama section. Buyers for the eight-part thriller include [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Trailer for 'Special'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases a trailer for “Special,” and Wrestlemania’s main event will be a women’s match, a first in WWE history. FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for its upcoming 15-minute comedy show “Special.” Ryan O’Connell stars in the semi-autobiographical series about life as a gay man with cerebral palsy. The series is [...]

  • Apple Event: Everything We Learned From

    Everything We Learned From Today's Apple Event

    After revealing new services in news, finance, and gaming, Apple CEO Tim Cook kept the biggest, most anticipated announcement until last. Cook, along with heads of worldwide video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and a whole group of Apple’s creative talents, presented the company’s new Apple TV+ streaming service, which is slated to [...]

  • Lauren Whitney

    Miramax President of TV Lauren Whitney Exits to Join Spyglass Media Group

    Lauren Whitney, the president of television for Miramax, is leaving the company, Variety has learned. She will now become the president of television for Spyglass Media Group effective April 1. The news comes less than two years after Whitney first joined Miramax. There, she oversaw the studio’s television development, in addition to “Spy City,” produced by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content