It all started when the ladies brought up the controversy surrounding presidential candidate Rick Perry, whose hunting camp greeted visitors with a rock with the term “Niggerhead” on it.
Goldberg started the fireworks off when she mentioned that Herman Cain had used the word during a Sunday interview. Walters responded, “It’s very hard for me to say, it gives me chills.”
Goldberg chimed in that it was useless to pretend that the word didn’t exist.
Then Shepherd broke in with her point of view. Turning to Goldberg, she said, “When I heard you say it, it was fine. ‘ Then turning to Walters, she declared, “I didn’t like the way you said it.” Sheperd peppered the conversation with the word several more times.
“I don’t know if it’s a semantics thing, but it’s something that goes through my body,” Shepherd declared.
“Is it because I’m white?” asked a surprised Walters, and Shepherd said yes. “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 of using the word, but Walters turned back to address Shepherd. “If I’m reporting on this you mean I can’t use the word?” she inquired.
“You can do anything you want,” Shepherd shot back. “You’re Barbara Walters!”
“I’m sorry, that has nothing to do with it, Sherri,” Walters responded.
“When you say the word, I don’t like it,” said Shepherd. “When white people say it, it brings up feelings in me.”
Goldberg chimed in that she didn’t care if Walters used the word because she was relaying information. But Walters was still taken aback by Shepherd’s candid comments.
Pausing, Walters responded, “We all should care about the same things and the fact that I don’t say something exactly the way Whoopi does..”
Shepherd apparently tried to set Walters straight.
“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 answered, obviously floored.
ABC will undoubtedly receive a flood of emails on this one.