April 25th, 2008
06:34 AM ET
2 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. Steve, South Carolina

    Now we have pastors AND candidates who think we are idiots when they want us to believe they misspoke or took their remakrs out of context...............wake up Democrats.

    McCain 08

    April 24, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Ready for Change

    Everybody has the right to say what they want, however............I don't think anybody who is a SITTING SENATOR of the United States should be sitting in a church that spews this kind of racist hate, much less running for President. Are you kidding me, if Hillary was sitting in this church she could not get elected to the senate, much less the presidency.

    April 24, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Leonard Box

    What a lier and a hypocrite!!! Look at the video clip again. It was so plain a child could have understood what he said. Of course he's trying to justify himself. Isn't that what lier always do? Man, whats wrong with this country? Is it just full of liers and hypocrites like this guy? God help us all.

    April 24, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Linda

    i feel this preacher is preaching reverse discrimination and hate. Not a church I would go to or bring my children to.

    April 24, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. jasper

    Still begs the question. If McCain had been attending an all white-agenda church for 20 years, what would you be doing to him right now.

    April 24, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Emmanuel

    a lot of people who are fanning this story are prejudised black people haters anyway.

    April 24, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Phil G. , New York

    great news!! thank you Rev Wright I feel your coming out will help Obama in the long run

    But Now we must move on and focus on the issues at hand theat face the economy, not Sen. Obama's pastor

    April 24, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. tidho

    Who did the Clinton's turn two for spiritual guidance after Monica?
    One guess, lol.

    I know Obama is taking the high road on this which opens it up for Clinton to fling the mud, but I hope Wright eventually gets on TV and explains his relationship with the Clintons.

    April 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. julia

    good for you to speak up. it is about time.
    may the truth set you free.
    god bless.

    obama 08

    April 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. dumbshun

    BOTTOM LINE: Rev. Jeremiah Wright DID NOT recant His Past Sermons "Demonozing" America!

    April 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Jennifer

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm

    “He goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician.

    April 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Steve, South Carolina

    oops Pastor Wright, I misspelled.

    April 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. steve

    This guy is a racist bigot. On top of that he is a disservice to the USMC. Obama was insane to affiliate with this low life scum!. America should chose a different candidate for president!!!!!!!

    April 24, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Independent

    Reverend Wright – great as you may or may not be, you ARE NOT HELPING OBAMA!!!

    You need to go into hiding until after November, seriously. People aren't going to understand, and you are just giving them more fuel for the fire!!

    April 24, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Ricky Marlin, New Orleans, LA

    It's kind of hard to argue with a videotape.

    April 24, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Jackie

    Wright has a hard time of keeping his mouth shut.

    April 24, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Sharon Minnesota

    I just can't wait to see what he's got to say now. Speak out Mr. Wright, let's have some more fiery preaching. You're doing all America a favor. Don't wait another day, go for it.

    April 24, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Randolph

    Right Alonzo. Jeremiah Wright is the source of all the problems in the Black commnity. Get a clue!

    By the way, he has an impressive record of service to his country. What are you working with?

    April 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Amy R.

    Rev. Wright is no crazy John Hagee. Hagee was a Marine and is a celebrated theologian.

    April 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Richard Phillips, New York, New York

    The scandal of American politics is the media.

    April 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. bpalmer

    I am sick of Cafferty slamming Hillary Clinton and praising OBama at every turn, so someone please tell him to shut up!!

    April 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. stacy

    man speaks with forked tongue.

    April 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. jyh1920

    Alonzo, Do Blacks feel so down trotted?
    I guess since you are black so you can share this with me.

    I am black and I am NOT down trotted. In fact, HOPEFUL!

    The Audacity of Hope!

    OBAMA 2008

    April 24, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. story

    if this guy had a little bit of shame
    he would keep his mouth shut
    my god¡¡
    what an element¡¡
    building 1m$ hause
    poor preacher¡¡¡

    April 24, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. R.O.B.

    yeah, that's exactly what the media was trying to accomplish. But we "smart" Americans aren't taken aback by such nonsense.

    OBAMA '08

    April 24, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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