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. David C. In Indianapolis

    I know that covering substantive issues relevant to the voters does not help the news media market in the ratings, however, whether we are talking about comments made by Geraldine Ferraro or Rev. Jeremiah White, they should be mentioned, not proliferated over numerous news cycles unless the particular comment is germain to the issues that matters to most Americans.

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. More Crap from Billary campaign

    So what? What did he say that isn't correct? Did Obama say these things? No he didn't. Everything he said was true....Besides, isn't this yesterday's news?

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. king from toronto

    why are we still talking about this?????this was out there since december.the clinton campaign already said no what is the purpose of this cnn???????????.both campaigns was on the verge of putting all this racist stuff behind them,and here you go bringing this up cnn.stop trowing wood into the fire..

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. joe

    do the members of a catholic church whose priest is accused of molesting young boys, have to bear any resposibility for the crime? when is it wrong for a black man or any minority to say the the playing field is not level? all these industrial prison system being built by " rich white people" are meant to make money of the incarceration of minorities instead of spending that money to better the living standards of these same people. geralsine ferraro's comment wouldn't have created this uproar if she was a first time offender. she made the same statement in the 80's during her run as a v.p. come on people let be real about these things, and as we all know, we can only be cured from this racist tendencies if we acknowledged its existence in our society. thankfully i am an african and can always go back home and regard myself as a "majority", but will never look down on any"minority' on my continent.

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. paustinx

    I am an Obama supporter. However I want Obama to take a firm stand and denouce in STRONG terms about the anti-American and divisive rehtoric from Wright publicly and in the media. This is very important to keep this campaign moving forward.

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Pro-Hillary?

    If CNN does not put my comments, then it shows they are pushing Hillary as their candidate. My comment is that this is more of the divisive politics of fear and trying to destroy Obama's character. I remember when Obama denounced this weeks ago. To bring it back is a dirty trick. I am not swayed or scared and I am white. OBAMA '08!

    March 14, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. marie

    is this the person who will inspire him in his time of need while in the white house then good help us, this is a racist and radial institution and he is a closet radical who continues to make bad judgement like rezko= racketeeteer, slum lord, william ayers= radical terrorist, rev jeremiah wright= racist, mentor, audacity of hope?
    boy what do we know about these people besides a good speech wake up people b4 its tooo late. michelle radical thesis, i can see why she could not be proud of america with this rev as a mentor and they stayed for 20 yrs they must enjoy and agree with this behavior gave 20,000 to church last year would have the rev by his side when he announced that he would run for president of the united states but knew he was controversitial he did not want this to be exposed too soon maybe after the election hmmmmmmmmmmm.
    america has been hynotized by a closeted racist and radical i thought we were smarter than that .

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. AJ

    Another indication that for Obama, it's all about being black.
    This guy makes these comments and it's Geraldine Ferrarro who the Obamazombies choose to take exception with?

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. WH

    Has everyone forgotten that Obama's mother was white and that he was raised by white grandparents? This "pastor" is certainly not preaching a Christian message. A gathering to spew racial hatred all in the name of God is not called going to church, it's called a Klan rally. I see no difference in racial hatred in the KKK and this pastor's message.

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Eric

    This is very bad and concerns me if Obama were to be elected president. If the Obama's simply ignore this type of behavior, I can't see how Obama would be a uniter and not a divider. Keep in mind he's been attending this church for 20 years!

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Wayne

    This is beyond disgraceful. It's racism, bigotry and hatred of America. If Obama has distanced himself from this racist, then why does Rev. Wright still hold an official position within the Obama campaign? This is DISGUSTING!

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. zcl from lakeland fl

    "I DO NOT PLAY WITH HIM ANY MORE!" What else can OBAMA say?

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Dustin

    I support his comments on 911. America is not as great as we all want it to be and we have to realize we don't do everything right. Thus sometimes we make people angry and invoke a response.

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Obama Nation

    I think Hillary thinks of Ferraro as an old Aunt or maybe a cousin.

    March 14, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Funny

    Who knows what Mr Obama has learned from there and keeps what kind of secret under his heart.

    I think this is a reallracist. Horrible!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Gayron Taylor

    Yet again, the longer this goes on we find out who Obama really is. I mean for 20 years of hearing this stuff. I question Obama's judgement on this and if he has stayed at this church for 20 years, that tells me one thing, he must agree with a lot of it.

    March 14, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Larry Buchas

    This "old uncle" should be tied up in the attic with that other "crazy uncle."

    This nut's a problem. It's up to Barack to separate himself from these lunatics. It takes a church to destroy the word of God.

    March 14, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Melissa, Indiana

    Remember Obama looks up to this man. This makes me sick. Think about that when you cast your vote! Stop talking about race and gender. Talk about the real issues!!

    March 14, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. Nita

    Can we please speak about the issues that matter?? All this back and forth stuff is really getting ridiculous. Bill, Ferraro, Pastors, etc. it's crazy!

    March 14, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. ddd7

    Lost my vote in the general after this. He's WAY too connected to this guy.

    March 14, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Jesse

    Most of what he said is true, now how you take it depend upon you.

    March 14, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. JDC

    With radical nuts here, why should we worry about the Middle East???

    March 14, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. magg

    what´s all this digging-up-stuff for?

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Robb, New York

    I'm an Obama supporter, but Barack has to distance himself from this so-called reverend. He needs to do it now, otherwise the Hillary/McCain camps will try to pull a Swift Boat job on him. He should be smart enough to know that they will do it to him. So Obama needs to get to a microphone and denounce Wright quickly and decisively for these comments.

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. RADA

    This is too important. Please pay attention. DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT OBAMA TO SEND HIM TO THE WHITEHOUSE?

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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