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. Karen

    She should not have used the word under any circumstances BUT the blacks should censor their own as carefully. It is a dispicable word and it needs to stop EVERYWHERE. Get to work on the Al and Jesse!

    July 20, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. mayssm

    I don't really see a problem using that word when relaying it as part of a story. She has nothing to apologize for.

    Are we not all adults here? The insanity of the world amazes me.

    "Today in the news, a person was reading Mark Twain to some kids, and said the 'N-word'. He will be an death row for 5 years, experts say."

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

    I find that pretty offensive. Like, I don't find myself "accidentally" saying the N word. Is she racist? Yeah, probably or it wouldn't have come out of her mouth so easily.

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

    To all the caucasian americans who feel this is an oppty to lambaste AL Sharpton (well respected in the African American community), versus talking about the issue that its not appropriate for her to be using the words, is RIDICULOUS.

    If you don't want equality, just admit it and say it. If you want to use the word, USE IT, and stop trying to pretend your past racism. I am telling you now, as an African American Woman, if I was in conversation with one of you and you made this about Sharpton, I would leave the conversation thinking you are racist, no matter how much you said you arent. Period.

    July 20, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  5. Independent Paul

    Interesting...and where are the calls by the left for her to resign? Hmm. This goes to show the hypocrisy in politics. If a GOP member had said that, the left would be calling for her head. She would be basically forced to resign. But, she has a "D" next to her name, so she will get a slap on the wrist, apologize to Sharpton, hold a fundraiser together, and talk about how the world needs to love. Both parties suck.

    July 20, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. lisa

    This REALLY shows that white americans just CANT WAIT to use this word!

    And, why do you keep putting up the fact that some black americans use the words? Is like some white americans use the N*word! Its not right when ANYONE does it!

    July 20, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. Judy

    I really don't see a problem with the use of the word in this contest. It seems they are saying that to tell Puerto Ricans that they will only be educated using English is like call an African American the N word which is probably true and understandably so.

    July 20, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. yeah right

    Yeah right, Reverand Sharpton, you are such a hypocrite. You have supported musical artists using far worse and derogatory words. She is quoting someone, you can tell from the context that she is NOT intending to insult anyone. Your manipulating her words, and trying hard to find something where there is nothing. You, Mr. Sharpton, ought to be terribly ashamed of yourself!

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

    She might want to appear to be high class but trash comes from her mouth. A lady never utters vulgar words – especially in public.

    oh well...

    July 20, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. Susie

    This is absolutely, totally, ridiculous. I grew up and the blacks were called Negroes. They didn't seem to mind it then!!! And, whatever, they are still Negroes. Whites are Whiteys, and Spanish are Spics and the rest of them are trashed, but Negro was what they were and ARE.
    Why now when they claim they want their race do they DENY IT???

    July 20, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Allie

    I am of African American decent, and I honestly feel as if she was repeating a conversation. She did not say these are her views. I'm never one to say calling someone out on a racial comment is wrong, but in this case we are being over sensitive. Again, I rarely ever believe things are overly sensitive, but in this case, let the woman be. There are a lot of real racist out there, lets focus our attention on them.

    July 20, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. jeremy

    Laughs at all of you defending her. Had that been a GOP member (God help us all if it was Palin) we would have 300 comments already about how we (repubs) are sans morals and the worst people in the nation...oh and lets not forget "irrelevant".

    Whatever libs.... *laughing at you*

    July 20, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. Dee

    Why is Gillebrand suggesting English Only is Puerto Rico?

    What is her true motivation.

    I suggest Sharpton look at the actual issue.


    Is she saying she supports the Racist John Tanton and the English Only Movement??

    Let's study what Gillebarnd actually said!!!

    July 20, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Amanda

    It is a very ugly word indeed. And those Republicans like Session who dare talk to Judge Sotomayor and say "you have some 'splaining" to do" are in the same category.

    July 20, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. Susan Pennsylvania


    Don't shut up!!!!
    Look, it' s a disgusting word! And no one should use it.

    July 20, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. Say It Loud

    I have NO problem when a white person REPEATS this word in relaying its use by someone else.

    In fact, I find it silly to say "the N-word". Don't water down the hateful bigotry that it represents ... don't cover it up.

    Either don't use the word ... even its psuedonym ... Or say it with wild abandom and pay the price in society.

    July 20, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. Ex-Journalist

    Remember when journalism was actually a real profession and reporters "reported"? Me neither since I was born in '65. All hope is lost people: you only hear what they want you to hear and "that's the way it is."

    July 20, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  18. Jay

    See Paul Mooney's reflection on the word. Why do we continue to give this word power? White people made up this word, why stop using it now? Quit worrying about the stupid word and start worrying about why a black male has a better chance of ending up dead or in prison than in college. Worry about why blacks make less money doing the same jobs as whites. This issue is a red herring used by white politicians to deflect from the real issue, and used by black politicians to grandstand and shock us. Stand in the mirror and say it 100 times a day, see if the earth shakes.

    July 20, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. Angry in Indiana

    While I hate the use of the word, I hate the fact that any time a white person says it there is a huge scandal. As long as a single person of any race can say that word, and not get in trouble, then anyone can say it. Until the word is ban to say by everyone, then anyone should be allowed to say it.

    July 20, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. Roman

    For all of you that's telling Al to shut-up, I wish we could have a one on one. We should be moving forward and concentrating on more serious problems. This lady is a US official and should be held at a higher standard than a rapper "Sean!" I just wonder if most people just lack basic common sense and values! I am an educated black man, and my vocabulary allows me to choose many other words versus those that are offensive!

    July 20, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. Nate

    In regards to the comment made earlier....I could imagine if Republicans made this comment, because they have said and continue to say far worse things everyday in the mainstream media. A certain right wing news station discriminates against anyone and everyone with opposing view points on a daily basis. However this really isn't about bipartisan politics, it's about social norms. Maloney screwed up, and might have seriously damaged her political career as a result.

    Their is no use arguing whether it is ok to use this word because it's not ok for anyone to use. I think artists need to think about the example they are setting. As for Sharpton.....get off your soapbox, she was wrong and everyone knows it including her.

    July 20, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. Brian

    First, if this was a Republican, the race baiters would be all over the airwaves calling for her head on a platter. Secondly, if Sharpton and Jackson are Reverends, why are they always part of the problem and not the solution? Third, I grew up in the South and have moved all around this country and there is rampant anti-white racism in the South and just as much white-on-black racism in other "enlightened" part of the country. In the South, we were forced to deal with it and reconcile. In the North, it just went unaddressed for decades. Fourth, we just elected a black president who clearly hates whitey so all you "persecuted" minorities can love it or leave it.

    July 20, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. hdrider69

    Backfired, didn't it?..trying to sway votes?

    July 20, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. abukhaled

    She was quoting someone who said the word to make a point. Get over it. I don't know about her too much, but saying the n-word when quoting someone else to make a point does not, in any way, shape, or form, make her a racist. Good lord, some of these people are such hypocrites. A black man, glorifying the life of being a thug in the ghetto (AKA violence, drugs, sex) and using the word constantly in a rap song is not racist or defaming his own people, but a white woman quoting someone saying the word to make a point about how HE might be racist is a white supremacist? Get real. I hear black people saying the word all the time (a word their great-grandfather might have been called while being horribly tortured by a white slave owner) and no one turns their heads, but if I say it its automatically a hate crime?

    July 20, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  25. Scully

    A reaction to a word gives that word more power.

    July 20, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
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