Meredith called it “a dumb question.”
New York magazine wrote about it under the headline “CNN Is Seriously Wondering Whether ‘Cracker’ Is Worse Than the N-Word.”
“You’d think the fact that they used one word and censored the otther might’ve been a big clue” to the answer, wrote the media blog FishbowlDC.
Don Lemon, who hosted the program, defended the question in an interview with Salon…
From the interview:
I’m not trying to rank ["cracker" as a racial slur]. I went up with a number of different words on cue cards. Among them were “cracker,” “n-word,” “nigga,” “nigger,” “honky,” “spic.” The one that offended people the most was the word “nigger.” It wasn’t a ranking we came up with. I just wanted to see if people were offended — Rachel Jeantel said [in her testimony] that she didnt think the word “cracker” was racist or a racial term. And [on-air] people laughed [when they heard "cracker"] — “What is this, the 1970s?” It was as though we’d said “Jive turkey.” People didn’t look at that word as offensive. They didn’t think it was right to use it. The general consensus is there’s not the same power behind that word. …
I think it’s incumbent upon anyone who has a platform to do what we did last night. I’m very proud that [CNN head] Jeff Zucker thought of me. I don’t see this kind of programming on any other network. I don’t see any other network taking a chance. Otherwise, it sort of sadly gets lost. It won’t come up again until the next tragedy happens. We should be doing what we did, regardless of whether or not we got it perfect.
CNN aired “The N-Word” as a news hook to the George Zimmerman trial, in which a black 19-year-old female witness was asked whether she considered the word “cracker” to be a racial term. She said no.