A conversation between Maher and Sasse about the senator's new book veered wildly off-topic, as these late-night chats tend to do, and arrived at the subject of adults dressing up for Halloween in California.
“We don't do that quite as much,” Sasse said of grown-ups in his home state. That led to this:
MAHER: I've got to get to Nebraska more.SASSE: You're welcome. We'd love to have you work in the fields with us.MAHER: Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house n----r.
Visibly uncomfortable, Sasse seemed unsure how to respond and said nothing.
“No, it's a joke,” Maher said, breaking the silence. Some audience members laughed. The interview went on.
Sasse later tweeted that he should have spoken up in protest.
Maher's epithet was not delivered in the context of a commentary on President Trump, but the HBO host is known as one of Trump's fiercest and longest-running critics. Trump sued Maher over a joke in 2013.
For Trump supporters, often accused of harboring hateful sentiments or backing a president who does, the Maher episode is further evidence that liberals can be just as bad. Griffin and Colbert already supplied exhibits A and B.
Last month, Colbert said of the president: “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's c--- holster.”
At best, it was a vulgar remark. At worst, the shot at Trump doubled as an affront to gays.
“For the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love in their own way is, to me, an American hero,” Colbert said on “The Late Show” a couple nights later. “I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else. But that.”
The FCC scrutinized Colbert's joke after receiving complaints from viewers but decided not to penalize the CBS host.
This week, Griffin posed for a photo while holding a bloody Trump mask by the hair. The gruesome image enraged the president and his family and drew widespread condemnation — even from Trump detractors.
CNN cut ties with Griffin, who had co-hosted the cable channel's New Year's Eve special since 2007. Griffin apologized but also has cast herself as a victim of rhetorical attacks in the aftermath.
As I wrote after Colbert used “c--- holster” on the air, antics like these are the exact opposite of the Michelle Obama maxim: “When they go low, we go high.”