July 20th, 2009
09:38 PM ET
14 years ago

Maloney apologizes for using N word

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/20/art.maloney.gi.jpg caption="Maloney is running for Senate."](CNN) - New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat, apologized Monday for using the N word in a recent interview while recounting a phone call she had received.

"I apologize for having repeated a word I find disgusting," Maloney said in a statement. "It's no excuse but I was so caught up in relaying the story exactly as it was told to me that, in doing so, I repeated a word that should never be repeated."

Maloney, who is challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for the 2010 Democratic Senate nomination in New York, used the full racial slur in an interview with the Web site City Hall while taking aim at Gillibrand's record.

"I got a call from someone from Puerto Rico, said [Gillibrand] went to Puerto Rico and came out for English-only [education]. And he said, 'It was like saying n-r to a Puerto Rican,'" Maloney said. "I don't know-I don't know if that's true or not. I just called. I'm just throwing that out. All of her-well, what does she stand for?"

Earlier Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton - a supporter of Gillibrand's bid - sharply criticized Maloney for using the word.

"The quote by Congresswoman Maloney if accurate is alarming and disturbing at best," he said in a statement. "No public official even in quoting someone else should loosely use such an offensive term and should certainly challenge someone using the term to him or her."

The controversy comes the same day Maloney is set to hold a big-ticket fundraiser that includes an appearance from former President Bill Clinton. Clinton has also attended a fundraiser for Gillibrand.

Filed under: Carolyn Maloney • Extra
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Janet, Philadelphia, PA

    I'm African American, this is much ado about nothing. Move on people, she made a mistake. I don't fault her for repeating something that someone else said. It was offensive, but understandable.

    Move on people–we have two wars, the economy, the health care issue and much, much more to worry about–move on.

    July 20, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Juanita

    I wish a law could be made so that every time this word is used the individual would by law be tested for that "drop" in their blood. Bet that would give'em pause.

    July 20, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Pennel

    Big deal, she was only reporting what someone said to her. This isn't racism. Racism is the fact that every city in America has been ethnically cleansed of the white people whose ancestors built them. Racism is the fact that there are vast and growing no-go zones for whites in every city in America. Racism is the fact that virtually all victims of inter-racial rape are white, that we've had a half-century long pandemic of racist rape aimed at whites, as well as other crimes including murder, that the media, including CNN, sponsors with its silence.

    July 20, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. James W, Columbia MO

    I'm about as liberal and racially sensitive as one can get, but I think we're blowing that issue way out of proportion. Use the N word is offensive, but we should remember that it is not words themselves that are offensive, but rather the context they are used in and the intent behind them.

    Had SHE called somebody that directly, I would join in the calling for her head as a racist, but in this instance she was just quoting what was said by somebody else. Why should so-called "foul" or "curse" words be off limits in any situation? If I was teaching a college course on racism I would say the word and not be afraid the PC police were coming for me. If I was reading Huckleberry Finn aloud for an audio recording would I omit the word? No, but the context there is historical.

    We need to lighten up.

    July 20, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Those calling this woman a racist are the RACISTS!

    This is not Trent Lott or Newt Gingrich, this is Carolyn Maloney – a true patriot who is NOT racist as much as you republicthugs want her to be.

    July 20, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Brad

    This is the curse of political correctness. When we sanitize speech, even when reciting someone else's, we destroy independent thought.

    The reason this is a big deal is because 75% of the American public is too dumb/impatient/busy fiddling with facebook to figure out what the intent of person speaking the phrase was.

    The founding fathers fretted about handing too much power to ill educated average Americans. This is why. We elect and support idiots who get to decide what is offensive and what is not based on their own terms. First we ban the N-word, then it will be other words, then whole phrases, and eventually ideas that are 'unacceptable' to some. This is how Americans will return to serfdom, and good on that - we never deserved freedom anyway.

    July 20, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. SJ in SJ

    Maybe I read this wrong, but wasn't she quoting what someone had said to her? Context was, he felt as hugely insulted as blacks when they hear that word? It's an ugly, ugly word, and the person was making the point that he felt just as violated. Or am I missing something?

    July 20, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Moderate Democrat

    Admit it my fellow Dems.....she reminds me of Palin. Lots of talk, no points, and hateful words.

    I'll call a spade a spade, and this one....is no better then Palin. And that's pretty bad!

    July 20, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Annoyed

    "That having been said, break out the egg timer to see how long it takes for the likes of Mark Sanford, 'Comedian' Rush Limbaugh, or Michael Steele to call for her resignation." – Anne E.

    I love it! Al Sharpton blasts her for a careless slip-of-the-tongue, yet you can still only focus on when the other political party might do so. Nice to know ignorant, partisan hacks reside on both sides of the aisle.

    July 20, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. ian

    honestly, it's just a word. seriously, get over it. The more people make a big deal about it, the more of a big deal it is. However, on another note, if this was a republican this would be front page news with everyone calling for their immediate resignation. So many double standards...

    July 20, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |

    Everyone needs to stop using the word including African Americans. She said, she was sorry and that is eoungh. You can't expect other cultures to stop using the word if we don't stop your self.

    July 20, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. JJ in NY

    Al Sharpton ??????????????

    What a hypocrit ! What a phony !!

    Did Sharpton ever pay off his civil fines for the Brawley case ??

    July 20, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  13. Jersey girl

    Rep. Maloney was simply repeating or quoting a conversation. As Michael Jackson said "look at the man in the mirror." Her apology appears sincere and we should be able to move on. At this time we have some real racists that are pushing their agenda and trying to put a halt on everything President Obama does because they "want him to fail." They could care less if the whole country fails if they can make the first African American president fail. That's my opinion.

    July 20, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Scott

    I'm sure it's the Republican's fault.

    July 20, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. Ohio D

    If it was a repub, we could call for their resignation and say all repubs are like that. But since it is a Dem, let's just broom this under the rug. Go Dems...

    July 20, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  16. human rights lawyer

    I do not find inappropriate to quote someone else. I think that it is silly that Congress is expected to substitute letters for actual words. I figure that adults have the maturity to understand the difference between a slur hurled as a racial pejorative or as a statement explaining what one was told specifically by someone else. She obviously did not mean the utterance as a statement of her personal opinion.

    July 20, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. Felton

    Interesting how true inner thoughts and feelings sneak out at the worse times, especially when one have been drinking. It's not the N word the damages the soul of black people, it's the original sin of it's intent. Why does it pain us so, it's equal to treating a human being with the utmost respect and that individual, internally, would rather spit on you than shake your hand.
    What does it take to earn ones favor, we have done it all to include being sold, whipped, separated from our family, coward at your presents, built your homes and cities for free, proven that we are equally as intelligent, and yet,,,,, we are still "N".
    I say to any race other than black, how would your race treat whites after 400 years of the above and still you area "N" to them?
    Forgiveness is a god like trait, asking for forgiveness is a human trait.

    July 20, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. John from California

    Big deal – get over it, she is no more guilty of racism than the black people that use that word.

    July 20, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. rachel

    wonder if Obama will turn this into a rallying cry against typical white women like his granny who raised him.

    July 20, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Greggo

    Walk the halls of your local High School-I do daily.
    I hear that word in common usage dozens of times,every day-overwhelmingly spoken by.... African American kids.
    I'm tired of hearing how that's 'passable'.......it's sheer Hypocrisy, and nothing more

    July 20, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. Surge

    If the handicapped have to see the context of Obama's 'goodwill' comment then blacks should do the same. Not holding my breath though.

    July 20, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  22. Christin

    That just goes to show she uses the word regularly! She didn't even blink after she said it. It was so natual and free flowing. LOL

    July 20, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Steve in NYC

    Then that settles it. When you vote in that election, just choose the person with the (R) beside their name.

    July 20, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. independent Jim

    Al Sharpton would make Huckleberry Finn look like a paper doiley instead of classic literature based on the numerous times Mark Twain used the word. If she was accurately quoting another person, she would need to use the word to convey the sense of moral shock as she tried to describe the conversation. Sure it's a bad word, but that's the point of relaying it as a direct quotation.

    July 20, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. Bizarro

    This is exhausting.

    July 20, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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