White House defends Larry Wilmore over use of N-word: He was not using Obama as the butt of a joke
Larry Wilmore (Screenshot/YouTube)

The White House defended comedian Larry Wilmore on Monday for using a racial slur during the White House Correspondents Dinner.

The Comedy Central host ignited controversy over the weekend by referring to President Barack Obama as "my n*gga" at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

"I’m confident that Mr. Wilmore used the word by design. He was seeking to be provocative," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during a press briefing. "But I think any reading of his comments makes clear he was not using the president as the butt of a joke."

Earnest compared Wilmore's performance to Stephen Colbert, who faced criticism for his White House Correspondents Dinner speech during the Bush administration. Wanda Sykes also ignited controversy in 2009, Earnest noted, after she made fun of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

"It's not the first time we've had a conversation about this," he remarked.

Earnest said the president "appreciated the spirit of the sentiments that Mr. Wilmore expressed."

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