The photo shows Maher jokingly “groping” comedian Bob Saget while he sleeps (or pretends to sleep) on a plane.
These New Years Hawaii trips are getting weird – Saget, forgive me! pic.twitter.com/UgehBTmIUv
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) January 4, 2018
The photo is clearly mocking the now-famous 2006 Al Franken photo, which showed the former Democratic U.S. senator reaching out to grab the breasts of radio host and ex-model Leeann Tweeden while she slept on a military plane. Franken claimed that at the time it was just a joke.
Tweeden also said that Franken, 66, forcibly kissed her before he became a politician. He personally apologized to her and resigned from his position after the sexual harassment allegations started piling up. (At least three other women alleged Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate campaign events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.)
While Maher was definitely amused by his photo-op joke, many others were not, saying that Maher was mocking the #MeToo movement.
Jokes about sexual misconduct are: easy, not funny, offensive.
— John V. Lombardo (@JohnVLombardo) January 4, 2018
Women in Hollywood have started a legal defense fund for working class women who experience sexual harassment on the job.
Bill Maher just made a sexual assault "joke" on an airplane, mimicking the Al Franken photo.
Men, step up and do the work with us or sit down.#TIMESUP
— Fannie Wolfe (@fanniesroom) January 4, 2018
Oh, look. Bill Maher mimicking harassment that caused a colleague to resign while on his private plane. What a great man of the people. https://t.co/dYHzCXcioS
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) January 5, 2018
Would Bill Maher please crawl into a hole and stay there?
— @Nentuaby (@Nentuaby) January 5, 2018
Franken’s victim didn’t find it funny, meaning it’s not funny. We need to stand up to “jokes” that encourage a rape culture.
— Lindsey (@linzymm) January 4, 2018
Others found the photo to be all in good fun.
Anyone who would take this seriously is a nitwit, but that's what makes it hilarious.
— Hush Puppie (@rrushd) January 5, 2018
Hilarious while making an excellent point
— jfree (@fjennifern) January 4, 2018
This is genius and funny even. And it looks like all genders thinks it's funny ….hence background. Do you @billmaher
— Bobby Hitt (@bobbyfucknhit) January 5, 2018
These folks need to lighten up. Maher's photo is hilarious!https://t.co/koF1qCqDPS
— Phil Valentine (@ValentineShow) January 4, 2018
Maher has been in hot water before; most recently, the Real Time host was facing calls for his firing after using the N-word more than once on his show. As of this writing, neither he nor Saget have publicly commented on the photo backlash.
Maher, Saget and Reggie Brown are currently on a small U.S. tour. Their next stop is on Jan. 20 in San Antonio, Texas. There are no Canadian tour dates.