April 25th, 2008
06:34 AM ET
3 years ago

Wright breaks silence, says attacks 'unfair'

Wright says his sermons have been taken out of context.
Wright says his sermons have been taken out of context.

(CNN) – In Jeremiah Wright's first television interview since clips of his controversial sermons circulated the Internet, Barack Obama's former pastor says his words were unfairly taken out of context for 'devious' reasons.'

In an interview on PBS set to air Friday, Wright expressed frustration with how his sermons had been portrayed by the news media and critics of Obama's White House bid.

“I felt it was unfair,” he told PBS' Bill Moyers according to released excerpts. “I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that, were doing it for some very devious reasons.”

Some of Wright's past sermons came under fire after a news report turned some of his most contentious comments into a YouTube phenomenon last month. In one, the minister said America had brought the September 11 attacks upon itself. In another, he said Clinton had an advantage over Obama because she is white. He also accused the U.S. government of adopting policies to systematically oppress African-Americans. (Listen to some of Wright's sermons via Roland Matin's blog)

Obama immediately rejected the comments, though critics charged the Illinois senator should have denounced the minister long ago. In a widely-praised speech on race relations, Obama said he could no more disown Wright than "I can disown the black community."

Speaking to PBS, Wright did not recant his past sermons. "The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly," he said.

Wright also called the response to his words "very, very unsettling," and suggested critics were pushing a caricature of him.

"The message that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate," he said, adding later, “I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ - and by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint, hint, hint? That’s what they wanted to communicate.”

Wright also said he has never discussed politics with Obama.

“He goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician. I continue to be a pastor who speaks to the people of God about the things of God.”

Wright's comments come just as the North Carolina Republican Party is set to run a television commercial that points to "controversial figures from Barack Obama's past" and shows clips of the former pastor. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has called on the state party not to run the ad.

The Republican National Committee and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain have both asked the North Carolina state party not to run the ad.

soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. Army Wife

    =Obama 2008=

    bitter , rev wright...etc ..... all are national enquirer..................Enough..

    ****USA is turning in to a MONARCHY??******

    bush.........clinton......bush......clinton......

    Vote Obama End The Drama

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. kentucky

    Check out the latest on U Tube-Hillary The Movie

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Let me get this straight CNN: you print some lunatic calling Rev. Wright a great man but you won't print my comment?? Talk about biased.

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Diing, Washinton

    If a former Marine and Navy medical personel is not, then What exactly does it mean to be patriotic?

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Frank, Missouri

    I am not sure ... he is right about what he says but Clinton and Fox News don't care the least about facts and truth. Their world is made of distortions, lies and half-truth and when caught about misspoken and misremembered 'facts'.

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Amanda M - Chicago, IL

    Can we please stop talking about all this garbage and get back to the real issues??? Pretty please?????????

    April 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. graham

    well, america did bring on 9/11. if you disagree, why dont you try opening up a history book?

    April 24, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Florida For Obama

    Hillary won most of the white men and women out in PA and your going to tell me she doesn't have an advantage being white? PLEASE

    April 24, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Duckula

    C'mon I've seen some white preachers say some crazy-caaarraaaazeeeee stuff and I'm sure I'm not the only one and I'm also sure that Mccain, Hillary, or any number of Christians can say the same thing.

    I think all of this proves that most preachers are just plain crazy!

    April 24, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. 4Hillary

    Someone call O-Waffle Man.........his "uncle" has escaped!!!!

    April 24, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Chris

    How many ways can you take hearing that the government infected black people with AIDS?

    How can you take being told wealthy white people are to blame for everything?

    A racist is a racist, even if he i Black. The more this guy opens his mouth the closer McCain gets to the Presidency.

    I'm curious if this is the usual Moyers puffball piece whene he will apologize for all white people or will he actually nail this guy for the hate he preaches?

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Chris Haynes

    Wright is just another example of a black man getting away with racist remarks. If he were white and made similar remarks about black people, Sharpton would have organized a rally.

    Give me a break; he deserves the negative press.

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Karen in Ohio

    I am 100% sure that Rev. Wright has done more good to people than Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Why cannot we itemize these people's accomplishment and see
    # of the hungery fed
    # of the homeless sheltered
    # of the children taught to read
    # of the HIV patients helped
    the list goes on and on

    What can these right wing activities be proud of to show at all???.

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Char

    Rev. Wright is Blessed.

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Maxine

    I believe the last time I checked that this was America and we stand for freedom of speech.

    This guy is nothing compared to some of the things I hear from my neighbors when they are mad at the government or something. Stop and think how many times someone has been upset by taxes or things.

    We all know we have freedom of speech, isn't that why we are freeing Iraq and the rest of the world, for democracy and freedom to say (not act) what we want.

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. tiffany

    Thank you Marshall and all the other men and women in our military who do indeed fight and sacrifice for our lives.

    As for the Rev. Wright- its high time we move on to the actual issues in this race. War, economics, healthcare our roads and highways. I can't remember the last time I actually got hear about the real issues in the news.

    For the media, imagine for a moment you were running for president, would you want to be held accountable for any word ever uttered by everyone you have ever known? Obama is no more responsible for Rev. Wright's remarks than you or I. MOVE ON

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. lou

    Its funny that Clinton's pastor said good things about this Wright. He is obviously not as crazy as the media wants you to believe. Its a shame that they are taking his message out of context for ratings. Go to youtube and actually listen to the whole sermon. It doesn't sound so bad. And why did Bill Clinton call on Rev Wright when he got in Lewinsky trouble if Wright was such a bad guy?
    And why the heck did the headline on CNN say "Obamas Pastor breaks silence" instead of "Obamas EX-Pastor breaks silence"

    April 24, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Joe, Chicago

    A very negligent media failed to do any background journalism on him. You failed to put his life and his sermons into a greater context, just for cheap headlines.

    "News" nowadays is more Tabloid than content. It's disgusting.

    April 24, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Rich

    The man fought for his country. He has a right to his opinion. Did he lie about anything?????????

    April 24, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Dr Charles

    "BITTER"+"WRIGHT' = SWIFTBOAT.
    Next episode: Michelle on the boat.

    April 24, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Mike - Texas

    It sure took him long enough to make ANY kind of statement on this. And to the Catholic hating Bill Moyers, no less.

    It still makes me wonder where he really stands.

    April 24, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Tanya K

    COMPLETE ANTI-AMERICAN RACIST THAT LIKES TO BACK STEP WHAT HE SAYS. NEXT HE WILL BE SAYING IT WAS A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS.

    April 24, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Mr.Suane B.Huff

    McCain keeps talking about pork barrel spending like it's something bad, he's right if someone is over doing it, but how else is a senator suppose to get funds for there state. The way he keeps talking down about it means he ain't doing nothing for his state, so what is he a senator for, Seems like he's just taking up space to me.

    April 24, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. California Girl

    Rev. Wright stands for hate, bigotry and racism. Obama needs to end all ties with Rev. Wright.

    April 24, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Sante

    I do nOT need to listen to the entire sermon to understand that you are spreading hate!
    Shut up and go away for ever.
    You , even do not help your black peaple!\

    April 24, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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