When host of The Nightly Show on Comedy Central, Larry Wilmore, used the N-word last Saturday at the White House Correspondents Dinner, people were shocked. Before saying it, Wilmore was talking about the progression of the United States since he was young. “When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people could not accept a black quarterback,” he told president Barack Obama. “Now think about that, a black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team, and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.”

Wilmore then took a brief pause and said, “Words alone do me no justice. So Mr. President I’m going to keep it 100: Yo Barry, you did it my n–a” as he pounded his chest. “You did it.” Obama grinned, and reciprocated the gesture.

The Twitter world went bezerk. Here are a few comments about what went down:

The reaction to this has been mixed, to put it mildly. The least expected of people, Bill O’Reilly, came to Wilmore’s defense. “I wasn’t offended because I felt that Wilmore did it in an affectionate way,” O’Reilly said on his show.

Others weren’t as receptive to it, such as April Ryan, a black journalist, who is the Washington bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks. She grilled
White House Spokesman Josh Earnest about Wilmore’s comments several times.

Ryan noted in her question that there was “an eerie, awkward silence and quietness” in reaction to the comment, and many guests “were appalled. Even members of the Republican Party, black Republicans, were upset.”

Earnest said in response, “It’s not the first time in the Monday after the correspondents’ dinner, that some people have observed that the comedian at the dinner crossed the line.” He continued, “I’m confident that Mr. Wilmore used the word by design. He was seeking to be provocative. But I think any reading of his comments makes it clear he was not using the president as a butt of a joke.”

While many people were outraged, Obama had no issue with it. “The president appreciated the sentiments that Mr. Wilmore expressed in his speech,” Earnest explained. “I think any fair reading of the last three paragraphs of that speech, I think make clear the personal views that Mr. Wilmore was expressing came from a genuine place.”

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