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. Dominique

    Now we are holding Senator Obama accountable for the remarks of his pastor? When can we expect the in-depth expose on Senator Clinton's pastor?

    March 14, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. kt

    Now look who has friends that make statements that are racist. Being a white woman, I am personally offended by this ministers entire thought pattern. The media does not need to pick apart his statements like they did Geraldine Ferraro's to make it a racist statement because they are so blatantly racist all on their own, racism works both ways... If this is the type of person Barack Obama has CHOSEN (he is not his uncle) to surround himself with, I think the whole thought of Barack being president is extremely scary. My mother always said, "Birds of a feather flock together."

    March 14, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Jake

    How is this newsworthy?!?!?! Remarks he made seven years ago that Obama's already denounced. You do know, right, that this isn't even his Pastor anymore? That he's retired.

    What's the matter CNN? Did you guys lose the "News" part of your acronym.

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Ohio Democrat

    I certainly hope this will open some eyes. Think about it people.

    Hillary 08

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. Aaron


    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Kerry

    Ferraro just won't go away quietly will she?

    If this was such an issue, why didn't they say something in December?

    The fresh new attacks on Obama's church pastor has nothing to do with issues and Obama himself. It has Hillary's paw prints all over it.

    At least we have all the Bill Clinton soap reruns airing right now due to Elliot Spitzer.

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Tim T.

    Note: Obama's minister isn't Obama!

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. George

    Yet another reason NOT to vote for Obama.Racism under the guise of religion and a holier than thou attitude.

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. LisaMpls

    How anyone can call this guy his or her spiritual mentor is beyond me. Are kids present for his sermons? How sad.

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Lee in Illinois

    This man is a total nut!

    What type of religion is he preaching?
    Barrack needs to make a statement to all his followers and tell the truth in whether he supports his pastor outrageous outbursts and crazy behavior.

    I truly believe that if he was in this congregation for 20 years, he may be as nuts as the pastor!!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Danielle

    And we care because?

    March 14, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Ed K.

    CNN needs to dig a lot more into this crazy preacher and his racist message. To me this video is one of the worst thing I've seen and it should be played on CNN.

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Bruce

    And he called himself a man with better judgments? Obama's true color is coming out.......

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Gary

    Scary to think this man (Obama) could become President of the US. If McCain had a close advisor and friend making this type of HATE speech the liberal media would be non-stop 24/7 blasting him about it.

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. clarity

    Will Jeremiah Wright, become one of Obama's Whitehouse aids?
    Scary thought!

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Independent

    Every person has an friend or acquaintance whose opinions are different and not always desirable. The question is do we incorporate those poople into our missions in life – do we allow them to speak on our behalf as campaign staff do. This minister is not a members of Senator Obama's campaign and is not speaking on his behalf. This should all be kept in mind when considering this scrutiny.

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Sean McM

    my comment has not free speech on CNN I guess

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Erik

    Its amazing that the truth brings scrutiny

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |

    Was it a lie?....How much of what the pastor said is not true? WAKE UP!

    March 14, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Dave, California

    So you deplore the comments...what are you going to do about it? This man is obviously a racist hatemonger, and he is supposed to be the "spiritual guide" for someone trying to be our next president?!

    The "reverend" can believe whatever he wants, and he can spew his filth from whatever pulpit he wants, but he should know his type of hate and ignorance only breeds more hate and ignorance. But I think thats what he obviously seats his church and sells his sermons! I just don't want it running our country!

    March 14, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Paul

    Barack Obama Needs to send this Minister packing Thats not what he stands for

    March 14, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Christi from Canada

    6 weeks is a long time between the media has to dig and dig to keep our attention.

    call me when we can get back to the issues will ya CNN?

    March 14, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. rick

    I'm curious why this is not getting the internet news coverage? America needs to take notice. This is Obama's spiritual advisor. This could be the preview of things to come. Be careful America.......

    March 14, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Ali

    Obama is the biggest fraud ever to run for the presidency. Is this the change Obama wants? Wake up America!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Black Man

    As an Obama supporter, Obama should and has done well to distance himself from this mans comments on issues as such. He would do himself a favor to be honest and open about rejecting this mans rhetoric.

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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