Going back as far as his days on "Politically Incorrect," Bill Maher has been a provocation-embracing ringmaster of sorts, leading conversations on hot-button issues while ensuring that he had the last word.
Friday, in the wake of a controversy that sprung out of his use of a racial slur to describe himself in a joke gone wrong during a segment with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse the week before, a somewhat more subdued Maher found himself at the center of this conversation. For much of the episode, he and his guests picked further at a moment that had many calling for his job at HBO, where his series "Real Time" is enjoying a successful year under President Trump.
"Thank you for letting a sinner in your midst," Maher said after a warm reception from his studio audience and before launching into his usual opening monologue on the week in politics. Not long after, writer and frequent "Real Time" guest Michael Eric Dyson (filling in for Sen. Al Franken, who canceled his scheduled appearance this week) took him to task in a segment that at times looked as if he were conducting the interview with the late-night host.