HBO and Bill Maher are in the midst of a social media backlash after the latter used a derogatory term for African Americans on his talk show Real Time with Bill Maher. 

The comedian was interviewing a Nebraska Senator named Ben Sasse on his show when he used the racial slur. Sasse invited Maher to visit Nebraska more. 

"You're welcome - we'd love to have you work in the fields with us." the Senator quipped.

"Work in the fields?" Maher replied. "Senator, I'm a house n*****,"

The remark was met with a muted response from the audience and the host immediately back pedalled. 

"No, it's... it's a joke," he said, turning to the crowd.

HBO publicly scolded Maher following the incident, labelling the 'joke' as "completely inexcusable and tasteless." The network has promised to edit out the joke in future re-runs of the show. Maher's show is broadcast live and thus could not be altered at the time.

For his part, Maher has apologised for the remark. In a statement to the press he said "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."

Despite the apology from Maher and public scolding from HBO, there has been many calls on social media for the network to take further action. 

Via Variety