Roger Stone uses racial slur on black radio host’s show

Roger Stone, the political operative whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted by Donald Trump, his longtime friend, used a racial slur on air while verbally sparring with a black Los Angeles-based radio host.

The exchange occurred on Saturday’s Mo’Kelly Show, as host Morris O’Kelly grilled Stone on his conviction for lying to Congress, tampering with witnesses and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison, but Trump commuted that sentence on 10 July, days before Stone, 67, was to report for detention. Amid widespread condemnation, Republican senator Mitt Romney lamented an instance of “unprecedented, historic corruption”.

As O’Kelly asserted that Stone was given his commutation because of his friendship with Trump, Stone’s voice went faint. But he could be heard uttering that he was “arguing with this negro”.

O’Kelly asked Stone to repeat the comment. Stone went momentarily silent.

The radio program transcribed his complete sentence as: “I can’t believe I’m arguing with this negro.”

O’Kelly persisted.

“I’m sorry you’re arguing with whom? I thought we were just having a spirited conversation. What happened? You said something about ‘negro’.”

Stone said he had not, adding: “You’re out of your mind.”

O’Kelly later said “Stone could have reached for any pejorative, but unfortunately went there.”

The host added: “Stone offered an unfiltered, unvarnished one-sentence expression of how he saw the journalist interviewing him.”

O’Kelly characterized “negro”, the word Stone used, as the “low-calorie version of the n-word”.

In a statement on Sunday, Stone said anyone familiar with him “knows I despise racism!”

He added: “Mr O’Kelly needs a good peroxide cleaning of the wax in his ears because at no time did I call him a negro. That said, Mr O’Kelly needs to spend a little more time studying black history and institutions. The word negro is far from a slur.”

He cited the United Negro College Fund and the historical use of the word.

Negro was once commonly used to describe African Americans. By the late 1960s, however, it was scorned by activists in favor of such descriptors as black. These days, the antiquated word is widely viewed as derogatory in most uses.

In his radio interview, Stone said he “did not get a fair trial”.

“My life was in imminent danger,” he added, saying he was at risk of being infected by the coronavirus in prison. “I think the president did this as an act of compassion. He did it as an act of mercy.”