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. josh

    All Rev Sharpton has become is a political fundraising machine for whichever politician he is supporting. If Gillinbrand said what Maloney said he would have excused her (because he supports her) or just have stayed quiet. His priorities and his ideals have become, to me at least, suspect. It is to bad because he is a great guy and I agree with him most of the time. In the 2004 democratic primary he was the only candidate who actually said anything meaningful in the debates. It is sad that he has let himself become a "tool" in which politicians use for their political career.

    July 20, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Liana, MS

    I'm African American and I don't care who uses it, it's still offensive.

    July 20, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. Balam

    I am black, latino and white.

    Give the Congresswoman a break. She was just quoting what someone told her.

    July 20, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. history repeats

    Fair is Fair

    youre part of the republican party and you're praying that we all come together!? that is pretty strange. the most intolerant people in the country PRAYING for us to all come together. who are you asking forgivness from? zeus? satan? loki? mithra? hm? which mythical creature will be saving the day?

    July 20, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  5. mike d.

    so is she full of PUMA pride or what?

    July 20, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. Josh C from Austin

    I don't any acceptable way in politcals where the N word is needed. I think Gillibrand will have an easier time getting re-elected! We don't need this NYC politician in office. Upstate New York need their Senator. I lived in Upstate New York and I can tell you Hillary and Schumer did not represent them well.

    July 20, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Chris

    Classic Al, speaking out against a white person using the "N-word", not even in a negative context, just reiterating what was told, and does he ever speak out against any of the ethnic minorities who use that word as if it's part of their everyday vocabulary? Al Sharpton is a RACIST and a HYPOCRITE, so why does the media continue to give him any attention?

    I live in NYC and NEVER hear white people say it but it's commonplace among blacks and hispanics. Do they ever get in trouble? NO...

    July 20, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. Deb n Texas

    I am black, and I think that Maloney is innocent. She was only repeating and how could she repeat if she can't say the words?

    July 20, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. Sam

    It's a word, and to pretend that we can erase what it stands for by calling it the "n word" is juvenile and utopian. I'm not a child.

    July 20, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. Al

    Well, Well I'm not surprise to hear since I've being hearing all my life from both white & black folks. Sadly it's not going away.

    July 20, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. TMC

    Wow,acts just like a Conservative.
    She should switch parties.

    July 20, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. Elle

    I think that the word is inappropriate across the board. However, before people get too excited and point the finger of blame in any particular direction, I think that it is important to remember that all cultures in America are responsible for the use of the word. It's hypocrytical to say that is is acceptable for African-Americans to use the word, but not other cultures.

    I've heard many time that the word belongs to a specific culture and is therefore acceptable for some people to use but not acceptable for others not to use. I don't really agree with this. It actually sounds sort of ridiculous to me. I think it is just unacceptable across the board and if we want to see an true progression to elimination race lines, we must all be held accountable for things such as the n word and be proactive in the task to eliminate it from our common vernacular. The more we as a society use it and point fingers in certain situations, the more power it gains and the more stagnant we become.

    July 20, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. David

    There are no words that should never be repeated. Rev. Al is a Publicity Hound . . . not the Word Police. Saying, "the N word" instead of the word is no different than saying the word itself.

    July 20, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. KT

    Some people will criticize Al Sharpton for everything he does whether its right or wrong. That means he must be doing something right. He says the things that people don't want to confront. Elitism and racism are alive and well in America regardless of who is in the White House.

    FYI, Al Sharpton was at the forefront with Russell Simmons and others in trying to get the N-word out of music. While he recognizes free speech, he still criticizes the rappers who use the word.

    While I don't believe this is that big of a deal because she was not using the word to slander anyone, no public official should say that word. Maloney doesn't have the history of making controversial and racially insensitive statements like Newt, Limbaugh, Sessions, etc.....but I wouldn't cry if she had to resign over this just like Limbaugh had to leave ESPN and IMUS had to leave the air. The only way to get people to stop making racially insensitive remarks is to have a zero tolerance policy. (similar to how you cannot say anything even remotely anti-Semitic without paying for it with your career)

    July 20, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. history repeats

    the problem with the democrats is that most of them arent sheep. they dont have LOYALTY to the party NO MATTER WHAT. they are more likely to hold eachother accountable then the republicans that basically will stick together so the party holds power. then they create the cronyism that existed under the bush regime. the middle and lower class republicans are basically sheep that are used for votes. they believe in jesus and thats pretty much all that matters to them. so its the solildarity the republicans have that is their greatest and ONLY strength. its easy to HERD sheep when they will never hold the shepard accountable. they are trained every sunday to do that. do any of them QUESTION the legitimacy of the bible? do they question the massive contradictions in the religion?not at all. PERFECT votes.

    July 20, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Antonio from ky

    Look, I am a black man. But, if the lady was just telling someone a story in which someone used the term "Ni***r", why should I care? not a big deal if she was quoting what someone said. it's just not. I'm sick of everyone being so quick to judge, even before they hear the whole story. I say this, do they have the message resorded? Obviously they do. Come out with that? PLEASE!! I wish some of my people wouldn't be so sqensitive. America, trust me, we are not all that sensitive.

    July 20, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. kathy

    It was really encouraging to hear Debby's (the first) comment about how African Americans feel about Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson. Good to know that they see right thru these two "publicity seeking" idiots.

    July 20, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. DaBird

    But if all you liberal nuts heard the N word used by Rush or Cheney, you would be going crazy.

    July 20, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. inofritzn

    Let's all come together and make sure that lower than scum chris brown doesn't have a career. For that matter Rihanna also, setting a bad example.

    July 20, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. The Party of NO stood calmly by for 8 year while the shrub raped and pillaged America, so, why would we listen to you now?

    I grew up in the South(Louisian) and as a 58 white male, can remember when black folks did not have a name, they were all the generic N-word.

    I.E. "The n-word over on Adams street in the green house sells great peaches, I have eaten them before".

    Had the peach seller been white "Miss Smith on Adams street in the green house sells great peaches, I have eaten them before"

    An ugly word then and now, regardless of which political party uses it.

    Just another way for us whites to demean black folks.

    Malone indeed owes an apology, if it was truly disgusting she would not have said it in the first place..

    July 20, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. Bryan

    I'm a black guy checking in and it's absolutely ridiculous for this to even be in the news. I'm only disappointed with Maloney for wasting her time apologizing. It's insane that someone cannot quote another person's use of the word, when trying to convey the nature of the conversation. We continue to be hypocritical victims of this word and it only seems toxic when non-blacks use it. Let's make it a story every time someone uses the word...by blacks & non-blacks alike.

    I can see if she were recorded saying something like, "Man, I sure do get tired of hearing all these ni**ers use the word ni**er" or "My kids better not ever bring home a ni**er".

    July 20, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Ryan July 20th, 2009 5:54 pm ET

    Let's get a grip people. It's just a word.

    NO, Ryan... it's NOT just a word.

    It's symbolic of a time in our history when fellow human beings were considered 3/5 of a person... when our brothers and sisters were forced to use separate restrooms... eat in separate restaurants... sit in certain seats... drink from different water fountains. Why???? Because they had more melatonin than another race?

    It may be just a word to you, Ryan. And I suppose the swastika is just another symbol to someone else.

    Coming from a caucasian person myself – it's a word which I wish could just be magically removed from history and vocabulary altogether. But I realize that cannot and will not ever happen.

    And that, Ryan... is a sad statement of the HUMAN race.

    July 20, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  23. trish, nc

    Sick and tired of hearing this offensive word come out of the mouths of my African American students and their parents. Sick and tired of hearing this word come out of the mouths of African American recording artists, poets, and other writers.

    Sick and tired of this word being defended by those who say it's okay for African Americans to use it, just not whites and others.

    No one should use this offensive word. It's how I raised my children, and it should be off limits to all, not just to those who are not African American.

    July 20, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. felicia

    Well i can say onething, al and jesse might be nerve recking sometime but they do call out these raggedy racist when necessary. These white folks gonna learn oneday.

    July 20, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. citizen

    Who said the use of this word is a crime?
    Let's stop pushing the limit. If someone uses it to put a brother or sister down or to promote racial victimization no doubt he or she should be lectured appropriately. She is cool. Leave her alone

    July 20, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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