July 13th, 2008
10:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama camp rebukes Bernie Mac over joke

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

(CNN) - Bernie Mac made a surprise appearance at a Barack Obama fundraising event Friday evening - but given heckling from the crowd and a rebuke from the Illinois senator's campaign for an off-color joke, the comedian may wish he'd just stayed home.

Introducing Obama at the high-dollar fundraising event in Chicago, Mac delivered a 10-minute standup routine during which he joked about sexual promiscuity and referred to women as "hos."

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?"' Mac said toward the end of his routine. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000."'

"Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos," Mac said, delivering the joke's punchline.

Some attendees of the $2,300 per-person event immediately registered their displeasure with Mac's joke, and asked that he leave the stage.

"It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," one man shouted.

Mac introduced the Democratic presidential candidate shortly after and Obama called the comedian a "great friend." The Illinois senator also joked that Mac needs to "clean up [his] act."

"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," he said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."

But the campaign issued a statement shortly after the event that was decidedly more serious in its condemnation of Mac's comments.

"Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (790 Responses)
  1. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Words, words, words...all they are are words. Humor is the use of words to elicit emotions usually positive and thoughtful. Just because the words offend you doesn't make them any less true.

    The joke Bernie told is an old one from his standup routine years ago. How come nobody complained about it way back when?

    Only today are our sensibilities offended. BS. The hypocrites are in full blossom this political season. End of story.

    July 12, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. uuuugh!!

    DUDE...really. come on now

    July 12, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Expect four years of that.

    July 12, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |

    What is going on? Is everybody gone bunkooooooo. Trying to see who can say the most stupid thing. I can't wait until this election is over.

    July 12, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Richard

    Obama is cricized for something someone else said, but CNN chooses not mention what McCain actually said.

    Somehow, while talking to a Pittsburg TV station he "forgot" that he has always claimed he gave the names of the Green Bay Packers as members of his squadron under torture while he was a POW. He has written about it and he has often talked about it, but in Pittsburg his pander or lie or mental lapse or senile response became members of the defensive line of the Pittsburg Steelers.

    July 12, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Jack

    Senator Obama tells Bernie to clean up his act, then tells him he's just kidding, then the campaign realizes his joke was sexist, racist, and highly offensive, and issues a statement backtracking on Obama's last statement. This really calls into question the judgment of Obama in permitting such highly offensive and divisive language to proceed his introduction and be intimately connected with his fundraising and campaign. Shame on the Obama campaign. This isn't change–this simply offensive to the American people. If this is how he would govern, America can do better.

    July 12, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    CNN, is this news?

    July 12, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. anotherperspective1

    It seems as though blacks are sending a message, "Disown your Mama, if she speaks against Obama".

    It seems as though they don't want anyone, anywhere to speak anything against Obama. We need to realize that Obama is not the Messiah. He is not Jesus Christ and he does have sins in the closet that people can speak thereof.

    Therefore, will the Obama supporters please get a grip and stop being so sensitive. Their man is winning and they should just overlook it. I wish Obama supporters would grow up, open up their eyes, learn to take the good with the bad and realize this is life!

    Don’t “disown yo Mama if she speaks against Obama”!

    July 12, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. KP

    This is not news. Lets focus on the issues.

    Obama for America and America for Obama!

    July 12, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Clinton Fringer

    I love Bernie Mac and he is funny funny funny!!! If you are too old, stuffy and white to get him then too bad for you.

    July 12, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Susan

    Very poor taste bernis. It is time to leave the Ho jokes behind. People don't find them funny anymore. It is time to change....

    July 12, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. carolflowery

    "trash talking" seems to be gettin popular in the news these days, first jesse, then bernnie

    July 12, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. What does Obama represent anyway?

    Notice that Obama says to Mac, that he "was just messing with him." This is what Obama does all of the time, always leaves himself a safe exit from situations because he is such
    an approval seeker and wants others to never know where he is at in his appeasement. Obama doesn't have the ability to take a firm stand on his beliefs when he is tested in them. Look at FISA. I'll never vote for him and I'm a democrat all of my life.

    July 12, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. yay of PA

    Is it really that hard to vet a script?

    Yeah Bernie, mention sex and show some misogyny. That'll surely win them over at high-profile political event.


    July 12, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Experience Counts

    Like Obama is really going to seriously question the degraded morals of his left wing fan base. "Hey clean it up . . . oh, I'm just messing with you!"

    Really? Did he really say that? Wow! This is a man who has refused to take a definitive stand on ANY issue whatsoever. The president of the United States, the most powerful person on Earth, CAN NOT be wishy-washy! I would like to ask him what 2 plus 2 equals . . .

    "Well, it's 4. I mean, it's usually 4. Sometimes. But we have to remember that to some people, it may be 3. And if that's the case, we need to think it could be 3 also. Although, if we are adding 2 apples to 2 apples, some people might not be able to afford any apples because of George Bush. So the answer could be 0. So, 2 + 2 = 4, 3, or 0."

    Moral relativism, my friends. Enjoy . . .

    July 12, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. KE

    First Jessie Jackson, now Bernie Mac. We get it Obama. You don't want me to think you aren't a "black" candidate. Sorry, I don't believe you though. You have no integrity.

    July 12, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Mike in Vancouver BC

    This is an illustration of how deep rooted these comments, that historically and coloquially have bee accepted. However in todays world where all US citizens have the opportunity to share equal rights. These comments stand out as extremely outdated and divisive. For all americans to come together a common sense approach says that we need to treat each other as equals.

    July 12, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Montana is Obama Country

    dubbed the "Silly Season" but not for Bernie..

    July 12, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. John Ret. Air Force

    A good reason to NEVER have a COMEDIAN introduce you or entertain at a function-they are notorious for saying politically incorrect and often nasty things. I hope Barack learns from this. He doesn't need any real trouble with all the media (YES YOU CNN) bias against him already.

    July 12, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. reginald sanders

    It is about time boorish comedians are removed from the stage.. The public has , too long, tolerated poor excuses for writing.. I am glad he was rebuked

    July 12, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Blayze Kohime

    I am certain that Obama is against what he said, but I hope this is a lesson to Obama to screen things like this before they occur at his events.

    July 12, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. JW, northern California

    I can't quite get the joke. CNN, can you give more lead-in? Was Bernie talking about living with two of his sisters? It sounds funny (the hypothetical vs. realistic thing applied to the possibly illegitimate nephew makes me laugh even if I don't understand all the details).

    In any event, Bernie didn't speak of all women as "hos," just his sister(s?). But I guess that's still illegal for someone to say at a sensitive political event where people are waiting to hear from the messiah (who by the way responded completely appropriately).

    July 12, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. J in Tulsa

    Where is the outrage Bernie calling women of color "hos"?

    Obama gave Bernie a slap on the hand and then said "By the way, I'm just messing with you man..." Talk about straddling the fence! Jessie's right, Obama doesn't need his n*ts, if he can't even take a stand on these comments, he won't take a stand on anything!

    Why the double standard when it comes to degrading sexist comments, race issues and racial slurs? Where's the outrage from Jackson and Sharpton?

    Hillary or McCain 08!

    July 12, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. 2 BLIND MICE!!!

    It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," one man shouted..............WHAT is really going on ............Jessie now Bernie....THUMB DOWN!!!!!!

    July 12, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    CNN, why dont you guys ever post the story of McShame wisecrack of using cigarettes to kill civilian Iranians?!

    I'm sure McSame and Bernie Mac can share the stage together making distasteful jokes about people who are a "bunch of whiners" and suffering from "mental depression"!

    July 12, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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