Backlash over Cuomo's use of racial slur

"There would be a drum beat if it were a Republican"

AP Photo

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN/AP) - "The general rule to follow, for all politicians, at all levels of government, is don't use the word," said Republican political strategist Carl Calabrese.

"Don't use it. There's no good that can come from using the N-word."

In a radio interview Tuesday on WAMC in Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo used a racial slur that combined the N-word with an insulting term for Italian Americans.  

"I understand what he was trying to say about his heritage," said Calabrese, but he can't help but think that if it were a Republican using that word, it would be all over the media. Calabrese said he hasn't seen or heard anything of it, except from WBEN.  "If it were a Republican, there would be a drum beat," said the analyst with Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese and Associates. "It would have led the national news and be the talk of the cable news stations. This shows the bias that exists within the media in terms of dealing with a Republican who makes a mistake versus a Democrat who makes a mistake."

The governor made his comments as he criticized Italian stereotypes and called for African American, Jewish and Italian communities to stick up for one another when one group faces bigotry.

Cuomo seemed to realize the word might bother people. He said "pardon my language" before he used the N-word followed by a derogatory slur once commonly lobbed against Italians.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the governor was using language that was printed in the Times, and prefaced his remark by saying he was quoting the newspaper.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is black, said he didn't take any offense at Cuomo's comments.

But Bertha Lewis, founder and president of the Black Institute, a public policy think tank, said Cuomo appears to think he has so much privilege he can say anything. "He ought to get over himself," she said.



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