New York: During a live radio show Saturday, Roger Stone, the political operative who was spared a prison sentence this month by his friend President Donald Trump, used a racial slur while speaking with the host, who is Black.
Stone was speaking on the "The Mo'Kelly Show," a programme based at a Los Angeles radio station and hosted by Morris W. O'Kelly, known as Mo'Kelly.
On the show, O'Kelly questioned the role that Stone's relationship and proximity to the president played in the commutation of his sentence.
The host asked: "There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily, how your number just happened to come up in the lottery, I am guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?"
Speaking to himself
Stone, who was speaking by phone, responded by muttering: "arguing with this Negro"; the beginning of his sentence was hard to hear. It sounded as if Stone was not speaking directly into the phone but rather to himself or someone in the room with him.
When O'Kelly asked him to repeat what he said, Stone let out a sigh, then remained silent for almost 40 seconds. Acting as if the connection had been severed, Stone vehemently denied that he used the slur.
"I did not. You're out of your mind," Stone told the host.
On July 10, days before he was set to report to prison, Trump commuted Stone's sentence. Stone had been sentenced to a 40-month term for seven felony crimes relating to obstruction of a congressional investigation into Trump's 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia. Attempts to reach Stone on Saturday night were unsuccessful.
O'Kelly continued the interview after the awkward exchange. After the interview was over and Stone had left the air, O'Kelly explained to listeners that he had kept speaking with Stone because his job was "to keep him talking for your benefit, as the audience, and my benefit to have that conversation."
Later, listing television and radio networks he has appeared on and newspapers in which he has been published, O'Kelly said, "The only thing that I felt was true, honest and sincere that Roger Stone said was in that moment that he thought I was not listening."
"All of my professional accolades, all my professional bona fides went out the window because as far as he was concerned, he was talking and arguing with a Negro."
The slur that Stone used was commonly used to refer to Black Americans through part of the 1960s, but for decades it has been considered offensive.
O'Kelly said in an interview with The New York Times on Saturday night that Stone's use of the word was "clear, it was discernible, and it was unmistakable."
It was the second time he had spoken with Stone, O'Kelly said, adding that he did not invite him on the show to provoke him.
O'Kelly said he was "disappointed and dismayed that in 2020, that's where we are."
"It's the diet version of the N-word, but as an African American man, it's something I deal with pretty frequently," he said. "If there's a takeaway from the conversation, it is that Roger Stone gave an unvarnished look into what is in the heart of many Americans today."
Stone has been accused of using this kind of language in the past, according to Media Matters for America, a liberal-leaning media watchdog, which noted in 2016 that Stone had scrubbed his Twitter account of inappropriate posts.
"The Mo'Kelly Show" is broadcast Saturday and Sunday nights on KFI in Los Angeles and on iHeartRadio.