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. SLO Bear

    The mainstream media will be as guilty as the Fox/Limbaugh/Hannity axis of evil if they retain focus on non-issues to earn ratings and irresponsibly degrade the chances of the best hope for our nation.

    April 24, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Jon in Atlanta

    Rev. Wright was right.

    April 24, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. steve

    out of context, soundbytes, unfair- Are you nuts?????

    April 24, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Olivia Gonzales

    Ah, yes WRIGHT, just blame someone else but yourself. Im an immigrant AND I LOVE AMERICA!!!!

    April 24, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. paul oregon

    another spin the clintons and the media are tring to play the race game this is just plain stupid. rev wight is not on the ticket.whats this dumb and dumber

    April 24, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Ardnuas

    We should ALL pray that God has MERCY on America...... We ALL have done wrong, and we ALL NEED MERCY....
    Obama/Edwards08 Si Se Puede

    April 24, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Dave

    I can understand why the obmanits are so BITTER, it seems the Obama cult is hate driven!!!!!
    HILLARY 08 if not McCain 08

    April 24, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Jay Graham, Dallas, TX

    Whatever Wright's sermons are, don't involve Clinton in there. She has nothing to do with his speeches and it is upto the people to decide whether Obama was right in staying in that church for 20 years with his kids and donated $25,000 to the church?
    Hope CNN keeps this comment!

    April 24, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. OBAMA SUPPORTER IN IOWA

    Thanks for coming forward Rev. Wright. I'm really anxious to hear what you have to say. I donated to your church because I wanted some way to show that I didn't agree with the way you were being persecuted. I'm sure you've brought a lot of Christians to the Lord and I am anxious to hear you speak.

    April 24, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. CHERYL FOR HILLARY NOW FOR OBAMA

    Rev. Wright you were wronged

    April 24, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. Mike Birmingham, AL

    The conservative attack machine will spin anything they can away from actual issues. If this race really is about what is important right now in America, the Republicans wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

    April 24, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Mike

    He is not speaking about God. He has the same message of love and understanding as Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler. He is a racist thug who is getting rich by instilling fear and hatred in others.

    April 24, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Ed in Portland

    "Heard the whole sermon"? He must be crazy, this is America, where we don't give our due diligence to anything, we just gobble down the snippets that are fed to us and think what we're told to think.

    April 24, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. sylvia

    Obama sat and listened for 20 years and I am sure he saw and heard those awful things at least on vidio (like we all did) who wants a race bating, non American caring, person in such a powerful place as the
    White House??????

    April 24, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. a

    yes, it's freedom of speech, but we have the freedom to not vote for his clans either.

    April 24, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. Buffalo Gal

    Why do you crackers think we need to respect you? Just give us your votes for the Man – Obama Rules!

    April 24, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Bizzle, California

    I wish everyone would watch or read the entire sermon from the GD America speach.

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

    Cnn: I guess the truth hurt since you keep taking my comments off thats ok i will keep trying there is no profanity in my remarks just thing that make you go UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

    April 24, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Yonni

    The more I hear about Rev. Wright the more I like him! He appears to be a loving, open, honest, extremely intelligent, fearless minister. I view him as a well-balanced mix between ML King and Malcolm X.

    "To be popular or to be right" I'm glad he's chosen to be right!

    Speak the truth Rev. Wright!

    April 24, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. Lynn

    It's amazing to me that you people believe this man is alright. This Country is in real trouble if Obama gets in. Which I don't think he can beat McCain. Their are to many of us that will vote for McCain if Obama gets the nom. I guess if you want Wright, Farrakaun, And Oprah in the White House then you would want Obama.

    April 24, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Susan

    The Clinton campaign was behind this treatment of Wright. Hillary will do anything to win. She is the most untrustworthy candidate since Nixon. She even looks like him. I hate her.

    April 24, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Bob C

    How will CNN anchors handle such an interview with Wright???I think any of your top-flight anchors can handle it ...sensitively...except for Dobbs who has good manners but is mentally unbalanced....I like Cafferty!

    April 24, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Lissa

    If Obama had any chance it's gone now! You should have just kept quiet until after the elections.
    Shame on you Mr. Wright you were Wrong!!

    April 24, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. jorge lopez

    My God this guy is loco , and you all Obama's are more loco ... viva Hillary.... o8....

    April 24, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. INDIA CALIFORNIA FOR BARACK OBAMA

    cnn

    April 24, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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