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. michelle

    She was quoting!!! Get over it!

    July 20, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. Peter

    Hmmmm...This word shouldn't be said, but not to be rude but most of the time African Americans say it. Let's just end it now

    July 20, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. blackrepublican

    She repeated the word. She didnt use it as a slur. And lets not forget all the rappers who use it on a hourly basis!

    July 20, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. Katie S

    Well, as an African American woman, I find this type of language offensive. I find it offensive when others of any race or even my own race use this derogatory word. Racism will never be eradicated in my life time or any lifetime. Politicians may think it, but I think it is their place to refrain from repeating such language. Reverend Al has his opinion as an African American man; so let him say what he belives; Maloney did.

    I think Maloney needs to watch "Black in America 2" -Check with Soledad for the dates and times.

    Oh btw, I love everybody-regardless of race, religion, creed. That's what God wants us to do! Don't forget you must love your enemies, but don't bring them home for dinner ..... lol.

    July 20, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. Maria - Proud Democrat

    Maloney was trying to create racial tension against a fellow Democrat who happens to be a good personby ..........and KARMA took a huge slap at Maloney for her baseless attacks on Gillibrand.

    July 20, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  6. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    people need to just get over such things and is petty at best .
    let it go we have more important things to deal with in our country than a slip of the mouth about a word that was used to describe a conversation . and she was using only in that way. so if anyone has a problem with it should just shut up ..also she said she was sorry and met no ill feelings .

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

    I am saddened by the stupidity of some of our highest officials.

    July 20, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. Erika

    So what was so wrong with white woman saying the n-word? Nothing, As a black American woman I hear more black men call themselves the n-word then any other race here in America. Grown black men or at least they claim to be men, calling each other the n-word and then get upset when someone other than black says the word. Get a grip blacks in America.

    July 20, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. jeb bush

    i see your "true colors" shining though". i see your true colors and thats why i can't stand you. so don't be afraid to let it show, your true colors..... behind every cauasian lurks the racist in you. and so its to late to say iam sorry. damage is already done....

    July 20, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. Maria - Proud Democrat

    Maloney was trying to create racial tension against a fellow Democrat who happens to be a good person ……….and KARMA took a huge slap at Maloney for her baseless attacks on Gillibrand.

    Now she is dealing with the turmoil she was trying to create for Gillibrand.........how does it feel Maloney?

    July 20, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. Roscoe

    This is ridiculous. You can't even quote someone who uses that word? Give the woman a break! Sounds like the racist left is starting to turn their loose canons on themselves!

    July 20, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  12. Tom L

    From Anne E. : "Use or repetition of that word is unacceptable — period."

    The congresswoman was QUOTING from another source something someone else said. Shall we pass a law to prevent use of THE word, too? As ugly and reprehensible THE word is, we're quickly moving towards something most left-wingers are always warning us about: out-and-outright censorship. Ah, but this is for our own "good," right?

    Free speech still gives Americans the right to offend. Yes, offend! As much as I hate the word and wouldn't use it, it's still the right of ANYONE to use any word (or series of words) that are protected by the Constitution (exceptions being threats, inciting violence, yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre when there is no fire, etc.) - even if that word is "mean" or "hateful."

    This is so ridiculous, I'd laugh but I'm too tempted to cry at the same time.

    So long free speech...for better or for worse

    July 20, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. The Shrooming Liberal

    Sean hit the nail on the head on this one. Sharpton and Jackson do more harm to the black community than good! I would suggest they listen to Bill Cosby if they want to really help the community. Some white woman using the N word isnt whats wrong with the black community.

    July 20, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. Tim S.

    Anne E., you know darn well that if it had been a white MAN or a Conservative who had nade that comme, that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson AND the NAACP would raise caine; protest, and boycott until that person wad fired or resign. Let's stop with the double standard ACROSS the board.

    July 20, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. RR

    Quick, someone call Patrick Lehay!

    Doesn't matter. She'll still win the nomination. New York City won't allow some upstater to hold that seat.

    July 20, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Dee

    I don't even get the gist of her story, n-word or not. Am I alone? lol. I'm a black woman who doesn't think this slip of tongue makes Maloney any more racist than any other white person. After all, I know many white people who have never said the n-word but are probably very racist. Racism isn't about a word. It's about how you treat people.

    July 20, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. An Independent

    The way I understand this, she didn't use the word herself but was just quoting what someone else said. It seems to me that when quoting someone, if words are changed or omitted, then it's no longer an accurate quote.

    Had she used the word in a sentence of her own to express her own feelings, I'd be criticizing her for it. Though it's just a word, the meaning that it carries with it is unacceptable and therefore, in my opinion, shouldn't be used. HOWEVER, since she was just quoting someone, I'm going to side with Rep. Maloney on this one.

    I think the Rev. Sharpton, Rev. Jackson, etc. are not helping the cause of eliminating racism when they get all bent out of shape over something like this. It just makes them look petty and foolish and damages their credibility. It would be a lot better for everyone if they'd stick to fighting real cases of racism. Rep. Maloney did not express any racist sentiments of her own. She was simply repeating what someone else said to her.

    July 20, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  18. the rector

    She nor any one else would think twice about using the word redneck, or cracker, or hillbilly to decribe whites in a derogatory manner but you just can't use the "n" word. What hypocrasy!

    July 20, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Bob in Pa

    From experience I would say that the most racist people on earth are found to be White Dems.

    July 20, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. Stephen

    What is so special about the "n-word" that we can't even repeat it when we're quoting what someone said. We need to get over this wierd obsession with the "n-word". I hear it everyday blasting out of car speakers and thrown around casually by African American students walking up and down the sidewalk in front of my house. So what, she repeated it in a quotation!? I can't believe she had to apologize for this. Sure it's an ugly word and I don't use it, but I'm not going to buy into the idea that this word is somehow mysterious and magical and can never be uttered by anyone without severe retribution regardless of context. (Except of course by all the African Americans that use it in public everyday.)

    July 20, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Marianne

    I too dislike the use of this word, but hate the double standard at work here.

    1. I cringe when I hear African Americans use the term on each other. Yet if I used the word I'd be a racist insensitive pig.

    2. If this had been a Republican who used this word, the media and liberal do-gooders would have been calling for his or her head. But because it was an honest slip-up by a democrat, it's cool and forgiven.

    July 20, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. Pat

    Excuse me , but did anyone out there finish reading the part were the caller said "I don't know-I don't know if that's true or not. I just called. I'm just throwing that out." ? What disturbs me is that she never even check out if this was true or not.

    July 20, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Steve (the real one)

    1. Al Sharpton needs to criticize almost all rappers, and movie directors
    2. Althought this is not a political issue, I do find it interesting that she is a dem and the usual dems/libs who post here are silent. (you all know who you are)! why don'y you say something? You had NO problem chanting racism during the Sotomayor hearings!
    Racism is racism no matter the color, gender, or political party!
    3. I am black and I just don't understand why some blacks feel "we" own that word! Sorry, I'd rather own my business!

    July 20, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Todd (not the Alaska Separatist)

    The word is deplorable, but from the text above, she was repeating the word within the context of a statement made by another person, and by no means has she indicated approval of the word. It's not like her political beliefs compel her to try to capture votes based on race hatred – Republicans do on a regular basis.

    July 20, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Stephen Weiss

    I have to admit, if I'm ever in a similar context I would self-censor automatically, I mean, I just can't even conceive of letting that word slip through my lips (I don't even think I could say it alone in a room where no one would hear it). However, let's get real folks... it was indirect discourse. You're going to gang up on a woman for recounting someone else's bigotry accurately?

    July 20, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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