March 14th, 2008
02:01 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama minister under scrutiny


CNN's Susan Roesgen reports on the controversy surrounding Obama's minister.

(CNN) - Barack Obama's Chicago minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is under fresh scrutiny, after an ABC News report Thursday shed light on some of his controversial sermons.

In one delivered last December, Wright argues Hillary Clinton's road to the White House is considerably easier than Barack Obama's because of his skin color.

"Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home. Barack was," Wright says in a video of the sermon posted on YouTube.

"Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary! Hillary ain't never been called a 'nigger!' Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person," a fiery Wright also says.

Wright, who retired from his post earlier this year, also is seen saying in the video, "Who cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and in a culture controlled by rich white people?"

Wright's sermon shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks is also under scrutiny, during which he said America had brought on the attacks with its own practice of terrorism.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," he says. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant. Because the stuff we have done overseas has now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Obama and Wright have long been close. Obama has been a member of Wright's church since his days in law school, and Obama's bestselling book, The Audacity of Hope, takes its title from one of Wright's sermons. Wright also married the Obamas and baptized their two children.

But Obama has long maintained he is at odds with some of Wright's sermons, and has likened him to an "old uncle" who sometimes will say things he doesn't agree with. He has also specifically denounced Wright's 9/11 comments.

An Obama campaign spokesman also said Thursday the Illinois senator "deplores divisive statements whether they come from his supporters, the supporters of his opponent, talk radio, or anywhere else."

UPDATE: Speaking with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Obama said, "I profoundly disagree with some of these statements."

"Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it's important to judge me on what I've said in the past and what I believe," he also said.

- CNN's Susan Roesgen contributed to this report

soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. Party Pooper

    Oh, boy!!! Can't wait for the Obama haters to start blogging!!!!!!!

    March 14, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. Wayne

    Obama needs to put as much distance between him and this fool as possible. What an idiot this guy is. It's like he's stabbing Obama in the back. Deliberately eviscerating his chances to become president.

    March 14, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Ben, MA

    And this is news... why?

    March 14, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Alonzo Demetrius, FL, USA

    His church is a major part of his emotions and psychology. If he is elected to the Presidency, Obama's background will play a large role in the future of our country - no way around it.

    March 14, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. NickNasc

    SURE....Now after we see Hillarys Tax Records, Earmarks, and HER Pastor THEN we will care.

    Obama you have it MADE. They can't tear you down so they HAVE to go after ANYTHING and EVERYONE near you.

    March 14, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. TJ

    Obama needs to give a thorough explanation of why this nut is his spiritual leader. Not a statement, but a press conference or a speech, nothing less!

    March 14, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Djools from the Netherlands

    Get ready for a political hurricane now this race and gender thing is combined with religion.

    March 14, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. JarryHames

    This is rich! Soon Obama's dog will be under scrutiny for digging in the neighbor's yard. Do we really care what this man had to say several years ago?

    March 14, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Snarf, Atlanta

    What does Barack Obama's minister have to do with anything, CNN? Why are you using editorial policy to attempt to affect the outcome of this election? Yes, that is what you are doing. Did this come from the Clinton camp, too? It has already be exposed that they are feeding you and other news organizations with "stories." You should be ashamed.

    March 14, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Marci

    Despicable that a man who preaches hate, anti-semitism and racism can be the mentor of a candidate for the presidency of the United States. If just a few more things like this come to light, I don't see how Obama can possibly be competitive, let alone win, in November. If Obama is elected, I will vote Republican for the first time since I became eligible to vote in 1954.

    March 14, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. I'm not FOOLED

    The truth finally comes out. I applaud CNN for finally reporting the negatives about OBAMA rather then just the positives.

    March 14, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Vet in S.A.

    That is just the beginning of what this guy believes about America.

    March 14, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    Here we go....let the games and name calling begin......however on a better note I read an article on Obama's mum which is so touching ..who she was and what she did ..I wonder why Barack does not refer to her..she was a poverty fighter in her deeds and a strong woman, ..God bless her , and no matter how this election turns out .she will be proud of her son......White America is increasing making Black America claim Barack as their own ..but guys remember he is who is he because of a strong mother who worked across racial lines all her, white , asian .....

    And to Nancy Pelosi , after seeing Clinton and Obama in the Senate floor , i believe they can be a dream ticket ...remember they are politicians after all!!

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. eliz murphy

    Wright's racist comments go to the very heart of Obama's character. How could anyone CHOOSE to listen to this man for twenty years? How could any right-thinking person call someone like Wright their mentor?This goes far deeper than a surrogate misspeaking. Obama's soul has been nurtured for 20 years on this man's hatefilled rhetoric. This has made up my mind for sure- if he gets the nomination I am staying home on election day. AND CNN needs to give this story as much coverage as they would if it came from Hillary Clinton's minister..

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Danny in Pittsburgh

    This is old, old news...long denounced and rejected by Obama himself... coincidence that Gerry Ferraro had a tizzy this week, right?

    C'mon...even Hillary supporters have to accept that the tone and timbre of this campaign smacks of a republican campaign.

    If we're NO better than that...then why the heck bother at all? When you win at all generally win nothing. No respect. No progress. No friends.

    Just enemies and people you've wronged. If that's progress...then I'm leavin' the country.

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Dave

    didn't see much controversy here. maybe a good helping of truth.

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. CW in DC

    The minister is retired. Can we move on to something else please!

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. brush

    Where's CNN's news report besides Ticker?

    March 14, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. D. A

    The Rev. is ABSOLUTELY right!

    March 14, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. Dwayne, Louisville, KY

    What a nut-job. Obama, you need to step up and dismiss this guy from your campaign ... his comments go against everything you tout in your platform. If Ferraro has to go for her comments, Wright has to go for his. You guys have gone tit-for-tat ... turnabout is the only fair thing to do.

    Obama/Sibelius '08

    March 14, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. J Bates

    I hope this gets as much attention from the press as Ferraro's comments did. I notice you are still running that, gotta keep it going. Put the pom poms down and run the news as it should be.

    March 14, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. gideon

    Is Rev. Wright running on the ballot. Stick to the issues. This is just one more example of CNN, MSNBC and other media who will dig up dirt to and call it news. Its no secret that Obama does not hold any of this lunatics views so why even bring it up. No doubt the Clinton campaign dugg this up.

    March 14, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Jake Haggerty

    This is one of OBAMA's friends ("uncle")'s a scary thought that he could be president with friends like these. Don't be fooled, racism is not always white against black. Vote for Hillary or John McCain.

    March 14, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Ron, TX

    Ummm, who cares? Let's get to the issues, people.

    We could spend all day every day for the next seven years talking about who knows which person who said something horrible.

    This is about the candidates... this is about the next President of America.

    March 14, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Lisa CA

    Apparently Obama isn't too upset about his pastor's views otr comments since he has been attending this church for more than 20 years!

    March 14, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14