HBO has a “very good relationship” with Bill Maher and his Real Time producers, network programming president Casey Bloys said at TCA this afternoon.

This after asked, of Maher, “How are the numbers doing? How long is the contract for? Are you very happy with the show? How closely is the network watching the show? Do you get a collective heart-jump-in-the-mouth moment?” and “Give us a sense what the notes are like”  – all in one breath, by one TV critic.

Bloys at first seemed to dance around the elephant, responded happily that Maher,  John Oliver, and Vice, are all up, numbers-wise for the year.

“Bill’s up a million,” HBO EVP Quentin Schaffer said from the audience.

“Obviously, I think the current administration and people’s distress and wanting someone to kind of interpret what’s going on has a lot to do with that. And we’re thrilled with Bill’s performance and all of the new shows’ performances,” Bloy continued, still ignoring the gist of the question.

It was hard to believe Bloys has forgotten that, about a month and a half ago, when Maher and HBO found themselves in hot water over Maher’s use of a racial slur during his show’s opening interview with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse. Maher apologized, HBO called the comment “completely inexcusable and tasteless” as well as “deeply offensive,” and announced its removal “from any subsequent airings of the show.”

Critics had not forgotten anyway, and continued to ask, noting the “bit of a minefield there” as evidenced recently.

“Yeah,” Bloys said, acknowledging the recent event

“I’m just wondering how closely you watch that,” a critic wondered.

Nina Rosenstein is head of late night and specials at HBO and has overseen the show for years, Bloys explained. “She’s in constant contact with the producers. She knows who the guests are going to be. I think anytime you have a news show with guests, there’s always going to be variables, sometimes unpredictable. But we’ve got a very good relationship with Bill and the producers.”