WATCH: Ice Cube checks Bill Maher on "house n---a" remark

Maher apologizes for blunder, then gets schooled by Cube and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Lee Eric Smith | 6/12/2017, 12:46 p.m.
Maher apologizes for blunder, then gets schooled by Cube and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

I like Bill Maher. Most of the time.

When you have a hyper-conservative president and U.S. Congress, Maher and Keith Olbermann are usually the progressive white male commentators who can be counted on to call out the BS. I first learned this 10 years ago, when George W. Bush as president. We're seeing it turned all the way up now that Donald Trump can't shut up or stop tweeting.

But for all his political commentary, Maher is also a comic, and as such, tends to dance on the edge of "going too far."

Well, he went too far on the June 2 episode of his HBO show, "Real Time with Bill Maher." In an interview that otherwise had nothing to do with his unfortunate remark, Maher referred to himself a "house nigga."

The blowback was swift and severe. And despite calls for HBO to immediately fire him — after all, sister company CNN fired Kathy Griffin for her "Trump's head" photo gag. But Maher not only kept his job, he got the chance to chop up his errors with not one but TWO thoughtful black men on his June 9 episode: Scholar Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and later on the same episode, Ice Cube.

Watch for yourself, but here are a few quick thoughts:

  1. Maher apologized, acknowledging that his quick wit betrayed him. He was going for the joke, and went too far. It's not an excuse, but I get it.
  2. Hat tip to Maher for spending a signficant part of the show engaging in a conversation about it. There aren't enough open and honest conversations about race and the N-word in our society. Even better that the conversation happened without language censors on HBO and thus could go wherever.
  3. Dyson and Cube were both careful and thorough in forgiving Maher while using the incident as a teachable moment. It's just as important to show that black folks of all stripes can have a calm conversation with a white guy about racially sensitive stuff.
  4. In the OVERTIME segment that runs online, it's worth checking out to watch former NBC Host David Gregory ask Ice Cube how he feels about the evolution of hip-hop. After you pick your jaw off the floor when Gregory asks Cube about Future and Migos and "message" rap, you'll dig Cube's response as well.

Anyway, check out these three clips:


Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Bill Maher


Ice Cube on Bill Maher


OVERTIME with Bill Maher