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Barbara Walters' Use Of N-Word Leads To Tense Discussion With Sherri Shepherd (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 10/03/11 02:49 PM ET Updated: 12/03/11 05:12 AM ET

Barbara Walters Sherri Shepherd

Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg had a tense discussion on Monday about the use of the N-word. (Watch Part 1 above, and scroll down for Part 2.)

The conversation was centered around the controversy surrounding Rick Perry and a hunting camp he leased. The camp's entrance contained a rock with the term "Niggerhead" on it for many years. The Washington Post broke the story of the rock, and presented conflicting narratives about Perry's knowledge of what was written on it and his efforts to get rid of it.

Goldberg used the N-word (which was silenced throughout the conversation) first, while talking about Herman Cain's use of the word during a Sunday interview. It was when Walters used the word, though, that things got awkward. "It's very hard for me to say," she said. "It gives me chills." Goldberg said it was useless to "pretend" that the word didn't exist. "Let's call it what it said!" she said.

It was here that Shepherd cut in. "When I heard you say it, it was fine," she told Goldberg. Turning to Walters, she continued, "I didn't like the way you said it." In explaining this, Shepherd used the word several more times.

"I don't know if it's a semantics thing, but it's something that goes through my body," she said.

"It's because I'm white?" Walters said. Shepherd acknowledged that it was. "It's something about hearing you say it," she said. "I don't like it when you use the word ... when you say it it's a different connotation."

Goldberg returned to the broader issue about using the word, but Walters wrenched the conversation back. "If I'm reporting on this, you mean I can't use the word?" she said.

"You can do anything you want!" Shepherd replied. "You're Barbara Walters!"

"I'm sorry, that has nothing to do with it, Sherri," Walters said. "When you say the word, I don't like it," said Shepherd. "When white people say it, it brings up feelings in me." Goldberg said she didn't care if Walters used the word because she was relaying information. Walters appeared offended at Shepherd's opposition.

"We all should care about the same things and the fact that I don't say something exactly the way Whoopi does--"

"You can't take away the way it makes me feel Barbara," Shepherd said.

"...But I never knew you felt this way and I find it just amazing," Walters replied.

The panel has had emotional discussions about the N-word before -- most notably in 2008, when Elisbaeth Hasselbeck began crying during a conversation with Goldberg about the word.

Watch Part 2 (see Part 1 above):

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the hunting lodge under discussion was "owned" by Rick Perry's family, when in fact the property was leased.
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