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. Mike

    What exactly does "Reverend" Al Sharpton do for a living?

    His critique of others' chosen words is not without irony....anyone but me remember his quotations from the Tawana Brawley matter?
    Does anyone, for that matter, remember the Tawana Brawley incident?

    July 20, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. Truth

    The way every white person doesn't support Rush Limbaugh is the way every black person doesn't support AL Sharpton or Jesse Jackson... but they arent AS extreme as Limbaugh... they are more like our Cheney, and Bush...

    So relax I can tell alot of white people think we love them as our spokes persons..

    July 20, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom

    Stupid and thoughtless. People need to THINK before they speak!

    July 20, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. bozo the obama

    c'mon people, she is a Democrat. All that we have now is a little wrist slapping and all is forgiven.

    July 20, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Davonroe

    This black man is not getting worked up over Rep. Maloney. Why not? There's a difference (to me, anyway) between relating a quote, and directing that word toward a black person. I'd rather not ever hear that word again, but I'll hold my anger for when that word is clearly DIRECTED at a black man or woman.

    As a New Yorker, and a Democrat, I am more concerned with the establishment, which in this case, includes Obama, looking to discourage other Democrats from challenging an unelected junior Senator.

    July 20, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. Carol

    She was reading the quote and likely thinking of two things at the same time. Of course she is the only person in America who didn't think about what she was saying yesterday. Did everyone worry about insulting a Gay person yesterday? Mistakes happen by well meaning people.

    July 20, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. paksa

    People under pressure usually are unable to indefinitely conceal their true self. So many people love to applaud Democrats as being non-biased and forget that Republicans led the way and championed civil rights long before it was popular in the Democratic party.
    However, it is time for this country to stop saying that a particular word is deplorable and yet the ones that scream the loudest continue to claim a monopoly on using such words themselves. If something is unacceptable speech for some, it is unacceptable for all Americans.

    July 20, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Patti

    What I find "alarming and disturbing at best" is what political correctness has come to in this country. Let's save all the hyperbole for those people who are actually hateful and racist.
    As for Al Sharpton, he needs to get a job, a decent hair cut and a dictionary to look up the word hypersensitive.

    July 20, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Reverend Al Sharpton needs to travel to Durham and engage the Duke Lacrosse team – and apologize!!!!!!!!!!

    July 20, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. Bugs

    As a Democrat, she'll get a pass. A Republican already would have been impeached, found guilty, drawn and quartered – in the press.

    Having said that, I think it's disgusting how Sharpton immediately jumps on this story. Just trying to make himself feel relevant, I guess. What an embarrassment to African Americans.

    July 20, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. mh

    if she were a republican she would be drawn and quartered by now. democrat = hypocrite

    July 20, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. John

    but its okay for comedians & rappers to say it.

    Barack Obama doesn't care about white people.

    July 20, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  13. a little sad

    She probably should have said "using the N-word", however, she was quoting someone else, not using the word itself.

    And even then, the only use of the word was to recognize the offensiveness of the word, not used against anyone.

    Too much tempest in a teapot here, folks.

    July 20, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. Andrew

    A word is a word, and the simple use of such a word in and of itself does not imply a racist mindset. She was QUOTING someone! I think it's time for this country to ease up on political correctness.

    July 20, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. cgsailor

    Woowie, she said a bad word! Now all the parasites that thrive on this kind of thing are showing up with all their pretend hurt.

    Puhleeze, just shut up and go away. I don't know one thing about this woman but I'm disgusted that she has to apologize for this non-event.

    July 20, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Patti

    What I find "alarming and disturbing at best" is what political correctness has come to in this country. Let's save all the hyperbole for those people who are actually hateful and racist and use those words with malice intent.
    As for Al Sharpton, he needs to get a job, a decent hair cut, listen to the language blacks use on rap records and a dictionary to look up the word hypersensitive.

    July 20, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. Alex

    Give me a break. So we can't even use the word in quotations used to illustrate other people's attitudes. Give me a break. And I have to agree with those who see the hipocrasy of black musicians and comics being allowed to use the word and whites not - even in a clinical sense which is what Maloney was doing. If people really are serious about the word being wiped from the language (remembering another word will simply take its place), either invest in mass hypnosis schemes, or get Obama to launch a Constitutional amendment. It's a nasty word – don't misunderstand my opinion on that – but ignoring it is the same as ignoring the fact racism exists and will continue to exist. And – worse yet – it gives the word added mystique which is the last thing people like Sharpon want.

    July 20, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. John

    But its okay for rappers & comedians to say it. You didn't see white people crying when Chris Rock used the word c*acker repeatedly in his standup.

    Barack Obama doesn't care about white people.

    July 20, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. Carnell

    This Was Just A Bad Choice Of Words, I Don't Believe Rep. Maloney Is A Racist. However I Don't Know That Enough To Vouch For It, Lets Just Pray That It Isn't So For Her Political Sake.

    July 20, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  20. David In West Virginia

    If the Senator was quoting what she heard, I see no wrong using the N word in the quote. She stated it was a quote which means exactly as told her. Blacks often used the N word themselves and that sets up a double standard if you can use the word to express your race but somehow call someone else down for using the same expression.

    There are too many double standards in our society and she apologized which is more than others have done in the past. Even Al Sharpton has had to apologize for stupid remarks he has made. He needs to get real.

    July 20, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. Chip Pierce

    Tired of hearing blacks over react to racism.
    Sorry, but it's just a word, protected by free speech, right?
    As a white guy, is there a law that says I can't drop an N-bomb?
    If so, there should be a law that says an African American can't say it, either.
    The rules should apply to all or none at all.
    I hear 'empowered' blacks dropping it all the time....then it's cool, right?
    Let's face it, blacks are just as guilty as racism / sexism as whites.
    Racism is present across ALL countries, people.
    If the blacks had guns, whites would've been slaves.
    Get over it.
    I'll say whatever I want whenever I want, and face the consequences.
    Penalize someone for their actions, not words.

    July 20, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  22. Rev

    When black people stop using it (every other word) and MTV stops allowing it to be thrown around so much, then go ahead and complain about someone using the "N" word.

    Only pointing it out and making a big deal of it when a non-black person says it is racist.

    July 20, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Steve C

    Nothing will happen to this woman because she is a democrat and a woman. Had this been a conservative man, he would be giving his resignation on the 8 o'clock news. Oh the humanity. good thing the dems don't set the bar to high, there would be nobody left in the party.

    July 20, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  24. Shawn - GA

    So let me get this right….

    It is ok to say the hate filled things about Sarah Palin and so many others? Hate filled remarks about their beliefs in God and so forth? This however is a travesty???

    What is the difference? They are BOTH wrong, you cannot have it both ways.

    Enough already

    July 20, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. Concerned

    The word was said, she repeated it, so if a police officer hears it from a suspect and repeats it at trial, should he be made to apologize as well? Who cares if you use the word or not. The only offense the word has is what you give it. Simple people are giving words such power these days and truly dividing people are letters throw together. Some one can feel free to call me any racial slur they want, it doesn't affect me because I don't allow it to. I don't allow the words to have power behind them. Once again the Thought police are knocking as someone's door and dragging them off into the night. Well done America, was to police ourselves. I be 90% of the people who are offended don't understand and 90% of the people who are not offended, don't really care. Stop holding things so close to the chest people, it's not that big of a deal. Sad day for freedom of speech and sad days ahead for individual thinkers.

    July 20, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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