Maher was roundly criticized for using the N-word in a joking reference to himself as a house slave. Although he later apologized, Franken called his remark “inappropriate and offensive.”
Dyson, an African-American author and Georgetown University sociology professor, tweeted a measured defense of Maher. While declaring that the N-word “should be reserved for black use,” he called Maher “a champion of many figures for black justice.”
Musician-actor Ice Cube, journalist David Gregory, former Florida Rep. David Jolly and activist Symone Sanders will also appear.
“Real Time” airs live Friday at 10 p.m. EDT.