Jackie Collins, the Hollywood novelist, had set the tone by talking about Liberty, a mixed-race character in her new book. She spoke of how Liberty's mother, who was black, put her in front of a mirror, saying: "Don't you ever forget you're black."Good for Joan - tough old bird. Audio is here.
Howe went on to talk about his Channel 4 documentary Son of Mine, detailing his relationship with his 20 year-old son, Amiri, and whether it was racism or his faults as a father that were to blame for the difficulties his child had been through.
Rivers, 72, broke in, saying: "I'm so, so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything. Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward."
Purves suggested that was a "very American approach" but Howe disagreed, saying: "That's not an American approach. America is one of the most savagely racial places in the world."
And then he later suggested: "Since black offends Joan…"
This drove Rivers into a complete tizzy. "Wait!" she cried. "Just stop right now. Black does not offend me. How dare you? How dare you say that? 'Black offends me!' You know nothing about me. How dare you."
Their exchanges culminated with Rivers shrieking: "Don't you dare call me a racist. I'm sorry. How dare you."
As a somewhat harassed Purves tried to calm the situation, Rivers said to Howe: "Now please continue, but don't you dare call me that. Son of a bitch."
Hat tip Drudge.