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. Tim

    You can never control what people are going to say. I hope that Barack simply distances himself from this minister and his deplorable comments.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. wow

    how can an obama supporter defend this one?

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Roxanne NY

    This man is his mentor, spiritual advisor, Obama has gone to his church for 20 years. He married Barack and Michele Obama, baptised both their children. In fact he has been such an influenced on Obama's life that he named his book after one of Jeremiah Write's speech.

    As a Black woman myself, I cannot imagine going to a churgh with such hate-filled language, especially the sermon(if you call that a sermon) coming only days after we were attacked on 9/11, when we were all shaken, shocked but united as one nation together, and not be totally disgusted by this man's words.

    Not only would I have left this church, I would have also had a few choiced words for the "good" paster himself.

    How could Obama now distanced himself from this man when others with less ambition would have gotten up and walked out of that church the moment he started spewing such racism and hatred for others and country?

    This is the judgement Obama wants to take into the White House? And who is to stop him inviting his pastor of 20 years to dinner at the White House? Who is to stop him there or does he really wants to stop. What judgement is Obama talking about?

    Is he saying something and doing something else.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Toyin, Marietta, GA

    We might not agree with him because we are egoistic Americans, but can someone tell me where he lied? The United States knew about blacks getting injected with HIV in South Africa, didn't they? Those injection and vaccines also came from America.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Chet

    Reading this article makes me concerned about the advice Obama will receive if elected to president. I am an on-the-fence voter, and I have to say that Rev. Jeremiah Wrights' statements damage my image that Barrack will bring people together, considering Rev. Jeremiah Wright is somewhat of a mentor to him.

    Additionally, he acts as though black people are the only people to ever be slaves. If you look back at history, just about every culture has experienced slavery on some level. So to say that Hillary is not from a culture that has experienced slavery is not true, it's just a matter of dates.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Kim

    I can't believe how you "watered down" this story!!! This pastor ALSO said that the United States government . . . "invented HIV Aids as a plague to kill poor people" (paraphrased). Not only is this Barak Obama's minister – – – – it is the man that Barak selected to BAPTIZE his own children. Obviously he must believe in some of this guy's rantings and ravings, or he would have had somebody else baptize his kids.

    GET THE STORY STRAIGHT. Be fair to the other presidential candidates. You would NEVER let THEM get by with these kinds of GOOD FRIENDS.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Donna B.

    Why is it ok for Obamas people to mention the "black and white" issue. But when someone for Hillary says it everything goes all haywire....Time for being fair....What is good for Obama is also good for Hillary...,There are two side to racism....Not just for blacks but also for whites.....Be Real.....

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. undecided in pa

    I want to thank CNN for being fair letting us know about negative things on both sides, instead of just one. It is helpful to the public. I have to say, this is a frightening video and really makes me rethink who I will vote for in April.

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Hillary backer

    Believe me, we don't want Obama as president. Please pople wake up. Don't make a mistake like you did last time. I say you because I most certainly didn't vote for Bush.

    March 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Joanne

    And the shoe falls off the other foot. If this man attends this Minister's church with his family God help them all.

    I now understand where Michelle and Obama get their arrogance.
    Enough said.

    Obama needs to apologize to Hillary. Hillary had to apologize to all African- American's for remark's made by others. Enough.

    Go Hillary Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!08

    If this is any indication of the next generation, God help we Baby Boomer's but more importantly God help Obama. Rhetoric will get you no where. They are racist. Read Michelle's thesis. Now ask: Who is the racist against the white's. This won't be printed because I have noticed each time I send a comment it does not matter. Afterall, I am JUSTCanadian.

    March 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Bill, Covington,LA

    Don't be fooled. The obama only deplores negative comments if there is a chance it will hurt his bid for the opportunity to destroy this nation in favor of rag heads. This is the person who has been attending those sermons for 20 years. This is the person that takes his children to be indoctrinated into that way of thinking. This is the person some of you swoon and faint over. This is the person some of you want for President. You are even more dispicable than he.
    PRESIDENT!! I dont think so, what a disgusting repugnant thought.

    March 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    If Senator McCain's religious pastor had said comments degrading African-Americans and America in general, media hounds (i.e., Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) would be screaming bloody murder for McCain to remove himself from his bid for the presidency.

    My jaw hit the ground when I heard Reverend Jeremiah Wright's comments on my talk radio show yesterday. Evidently Wright performed Obama's marriage ceremony in 1987, and even baptized Obama's children.

    Does Obama share any of Wright's disdain for European-Americans and America in general? This is a question that should be investigated to the fullest extent possible.

    March 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. rick

    right! okay,

    March 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Lou

    Everybody knows that Barack Obama supports this minister and highly respects this minister. It is time to stop treating Obama with kid gloves. He is a grown man that must answer for his beliefs and past deeds and behaviors. It is pretty bad that the media thinks he needs a protector.
    If anybody Hillary even remotely knew, made the type of comments such as those made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, she would be bombarded with negativity from the press.

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Chuck

    Shock, Shock, Shock is all I can say.

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Cramer

    This absurd that we keep looking for reasons to judge the canidates based on what somone says that is not part of their campain. People are looking for reasons to grasp at these canidates for something they had no control over.

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. Alex A

    I am not sure what the point is, in digging up a story that was already reported almost a year ago. This is not exactly new CNN. I have friends that say stuff i don't agree with all the time but does not mean i will be accountable for what they do or say. This nonsense was re-initiated by Hannity with foxnews in his desperation to find something to attack Obama with. The idiot even divided up the this stale news into volume 1 and 2... For crying out loud. This will be like re-visiting the Jerry Ferraro story one year from now and then making a new story out of rubbish in my opinion.

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. R. Cooper

    Can we please just get on with the campaign. No one really is impressed by all these racials overtones the media is putting out there. If the media would stop LOOKING FOR such trash to increase ratings, the voters and the candidates could focus on the real issues!

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. shame shame

    maybe barack should apologize to white voters

    March 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Marguerite Nash

    Well, I guess this is the last of the "kitchen sink" saga. Congrat!!!!! Senator Clinton you finally did it. I can only hope your secrets don't come out.

    However, I have a feeling you will not become "President Clinton". You have just done what every one expected of you. "Dirty Politics".

    This has been out for a long time. But all of a sudden it is out in FULL FORCE??????

    The democratic party has now certainly been torn apart.


    March 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. The truth will set you free!

    Lord help us if Barack Hussein Obama becomes the most important man in the world – President of the United States. He has been taught by this hate filled racist minister to hate America and all She stands for. Nations and people that hate this nation will be dancing in the streets if Obama gets elected. "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are". Obama's wife also has been taught by this minister...what did she say the other day...."This is the first time I've been proud of America in my adult life". Open your eyes people....this Obama is not the answer for America at this time and never will be. Sure, this nation is not perfect but it is the greatest nation in the world with the most giving people in the world.

    March 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Linda, Kansas City, MO

    He thinks it's easier for a woman to get in the white house then a black man...are you kidding me?!?! Even at best it would be just as hard for a woman as a black man. It's interesting how groups that are discriminated against can act as though other groups that are discriminated against aren't. So self-centered.

    March 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Sabrina Skacan

    It's amazing how quiet the Obama campaign is on the "patently absurd" comments made by Rev. Wright. Apparently women have never faced discrimination, bigotry and racism in our nation's history.

    March 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. Iris

    I think that Obama, by keeping company with Wright, by being married by him and by having his children baptized by him, makes me believe that Barack feels the same hatred of white people and of America. This man cannot be president. I will not vote for Barack if he gets the Democratic nomination. As a democrat I will vote for McCain.

    March 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. samuel l. spade

    Notice that the media is being much gentler in reporting Rev. Wright's inflammatory preaching & the long-term close relationship between /Obama & Wright far more gently than it was in reporting Ferraro's truthful, non-inflammatory statement re black support of Obama. The media's terribly guilty of one-sided reporting re Clinton & Obama, & this is another example. Why aren't they suggesting that Wright resign from Obama's committee or that Obama apologize for Wright's comments & activities and discharge him from the committee?

    March 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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