CNN And The “N” Word: When Do Quotes Cross The Line?
CNN and reporter Drew Griffin came into a negative spotlight last month when Griffin, while reading a quote on-air during a report about a federal hate-crime, said n**ger but censored himself on the word f**king.
“At the end of this, Deryl Dedmon is laughing with his friends and actually called on a cell phone and, pardon my language but there’s no other way to say this — ‘I just ran over that f—ing nigger,’ that’s what he said. And it was a clear-cut case of pure racial-intent murder that took place there, which is why it was so easy to apply the hate crime legislation in this case,” Griffin said. He was reporting on a Mississippi case in which 3 men were charged with a hate crime after brutally beating and running over a black man.
The fact that Griffin apparently thought it acceptable to use a racial slur but not a curse word angered many, but the backlash didn’t keep another reporter from using the word on-air yesterday during a report about the Tulsa shootings of five black men, three of whom died from their wounds.
While reading from a Facebook post made by the suspect, reporter Susan Candiotti quoted, “Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a f–king n–ger.”
The difference between the two is that Candiotti didn’t censor herself at all and read the quote in its entirety, prompting the question of whether or not it’s okay to include offensive words in a broadcast in the name of quoting someone else. While Griffin and Candiotti were obviously simply reading a line originally spoken by someone else, some argue that the words are still harmful and these reports just perpetuate their use; while there is no way to completely eradicate a particular word from the vernacular, it’s an opinion held by many that respected members of the news media should set an example, especially concerning a word that holds so much negativity and hurtfulness.
Candiotti has since apologized for reading the quote uncensored, saying, “In quoting someone else’s words, I repeated their offensive and inappropriate language. I deeply regret it.”