June 26th, 2009
08:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama sends condolences to Jackson's family, says Gibbs

Robert Gibbs said he talked to President Obama Friday morning about the death of Michael Jackson.
Robert Gibbs said he talked to President Obama Friday morning about the death of Michael Jackson.

(CNN) - President Obama thinks Michael Jackson was a "spectacular performer" but also a man with aspects of his life that were "sad and tragic," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.

"I talked to him about it this morning," Gibbs said in the White House's first reaction to Jackson's death. "Look, he said to me that obviously Michael Jackson was a spectacular performer, a music icon. I think everybody remembers hearing his songs, watching the moon walk on television during Motown's 25th anniversary."

"But the president also said, look, he had aspects of his life were sad and tragic," Gibbs added. "His condolences went out to the Jackson family and to fans who mourn his loss."

Gibbs was quickly pressed over why the White House did not issue a formal statement on Jackson's death.

"Because I just said it," he said.


Filed under: Michael Jackson • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Deven

    Obama has spoken....and reiterated the obvious once again. Thanks...I didn't know what to think without his guidance.
    Lots of Obama's life has been tragic too I am sure...and some say he is a great entertainer...

    June 26, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  2. JLG

    Mr Gibbs,
    Thank you for your succinct comments! I only wish that people would have actually 'heard' them.
    The United States government is tasked with IMPORTANT jobs, and commenting on the death of one US citizen; who did not give their life for their country; takes up valuable time.
    Mr Gibbs, thank you for reminding us that the President of The United States, while expressing condolences to the Jackson family; will continue to 'do the impossible job that he is tasked with'.
    To all of the emotional/no-grip-on-reality e-bloggers out the, PLZ give your head a shake, and simply ask yourself what YOU would do, if YOU were POTUS?

    June 26, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Bonnie

    why am I so amazed at the ignorance that exists in this world?

    June 26, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. Harry Bin

    So now Presidents are issuing condolences for enterainers. What about Farah Fawcett. Yes, Michael was talented, but this is ridiculous. This crap is meaningless compared to what is happening with this country.

    June 26, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. Awo

    I love reading blogs people post because:
    The insults are absolutely hilarious
    Cheap entertainment when no money
    How insignificant your opinions are

    June 26, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. K from South Carolina

    Mercy. There is no way Obama can win in this situation. I think his answer was a compromise. Answering for MJ was appropriate because of the effect that he had on the world. There are other people (Princess Di) who had an impact on our world and culture, and world leaders have expressed their condolences. There have been people who weren't famous who passed (passengers of doomed flight from Brazil) who the president offered his condolences. It just depends on the magnitude of the situation sometimes.
    Despite the contraversy, he did do a lot of good and helped alot of people. Hopefully, he will be remembered for that.

    June 26, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  7. jenn

    This is just too much. I detest the media habit of asking everyone for statements about celebrity deaths (what are they going to say except "OMG, it's so sad!"??), and expecting POTUS to take time out of stuff like, oh, two wars, economic struggles, health care, Iran, North Korea to issue a statement on the passing of a talented but undeniably troubled singer is baffling.

    I know the right wing will reach to any depths to criticize Obama, no matter how ridiculous and fictional, but if anyone here is an Obama supporter who is disappointed that Obama did not eulogize MJ–please, put down People magazine and pick up a newspaper once in a while. It'll put things into perspective for you!

    June 26, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. John

    If the President is going to be handing out condolences about the recent deaths of entertainers, maybe he first should consider Col. Ed McMahon, USMC, who flew 85 combat missions in WWII and Korea, and upon leaving active duty in the USMC was commissioned a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.

    All before he ever said "Heeeeeeeeeres Johnny!"

    As for the person who mentioned that Michael Jackson donated to 39 charities, well, like, wow. I could send a buck each to 40 charities. What counts is how much, and for that one should look to people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who hold the dollar record for contributions – not to mention being actively engaged in making sure the money is spent wisely!

    June 26, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Brenda

    Right wingers will grasp at ANYTHING to criticize President Obama. If he had came out and issued a statement they would be griping at that.

    June 26, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  10. bimmer

    What do you expect from a politician? Did not he use Jeremiah Wright when He needed him and dropped him like a hot potato when it was inconvenient?

    Wight was right. Barack is a politicain. He will do what politicans do: deny, dodge and then deny more.

    He is looking at 2012. A statement by Him might anger those who didnot like Michael Jackson. Michael is dead and he can't vote. And rest of the black notes are guaranteed because everyone wants to be part of history.

    So why change?

    June 26, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  11. Kay

    There is just way too much about Jackson in the news. Not everyone is concerned. I don't really care what Obama thinks about him. I am sure Obama didn't comment to the families of all the other thousands of people who died this week. Some of whom were probably very good people. I would like to have a bit more news on other news items, like the major wreck in NE Oklahoma that killed 9 people. No one seems to have much detail on that, but there is 10-15 lines of headlines on Jackson.

    June 26, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. MJ a True Humanitarian

    Michael Jackson's legacy will live on forever...ugly comments from sad souls full of cynicism are the reason why MJ's music and his giving soul, first superstar to start awareness to Aids, the Earth and the underpriviledged will drown out their ignorance....RIP... KING OF POP

    June 26, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  13. Kevin

    I am happy President Obama recognized that Michael Jackson was a Super star, however the President should not be commenting on the death of Michael Jackson publicly. I think President Obama is like the rest of MJ’s quiet fans, I will remember the music, but the tragic lifestyle Michael was living was sometimes hard to accept.

    June 26, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. T Mckinley

    Is the death of Michael Jackson more importamt than the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, and the enviroment?

    Come on people, get a clue.

    June 26, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. Biased

    When the press asks him anything and everything why should this question be out of line? Maybe Obama might have made a statement since he probably grew up in the same era Jackson did. They might have asked because they are both black., and I am sure dems will call that a racist statement... And perhaps they asked because he has been pretty free with some of his statements and scarce on others. He commented on the Tiller death when he really didn't have to but then kept quiet on the death of a soldier outside a recruiting office while being his Commander in Chief. I personally was surprised he made no statement since he seems to comment on most everything else these days.

    June 26, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. Wil in Loganville

    So you all are so desperate to criticize Obama that you attack him because he didn't directly say something immediately? That's good, it means he is doing his job. Really pathetic on your part...

    June 26, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  17. S.M.

    Big supporter of Obama.
    Very very confused by his non-reaction to this.

    An ICON died, whether you were a fan or not, whether you believed everything about him or not. An Icon. The most famous person in the world probably. Farrah was a star, sure, but not an once-in-a-lifetime talent.

    It could be said that MJ led the way for Obama to be where is today.

    The LEAST they could do is fashion an appropriate statement to the country and world about it.
    While I know there are more pressing issues, of course, a statement would not take a whole day.

    Very tone deaf and surprising.
    Somewhat reminds me of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Di.

    June 26, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  18. Whateva

    why would the white house make a formal statement? because of race?

    June 26, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. Alcinia

    I really don't care what the media thinks about Micheal Jackson. If he had problems the media is the one who started them. Micheal was a genius and that has never been acknowledge by the media. They were too happy to report when they thought he would go down for a crime that he didn't commit. Just because he knew how to give love and show love, not only to a select few, but to everyone; a certain portion of this country tried their best to bring him down. It didn't work with his fans only with people who were jealous of his greatness! Now all you want to talk about is his trouble! He's dead! Get over it and move on. No matter what you say, we will still love him, as has been proven all over the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!

    June 26, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. because he just said it

    Michael Jackson's legacy will live on for centuries....a few words from the President makes no difference...when the earth is no more...aliens or those who come after will find his music....

    June 26, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  21. Hmmm....

    Unfortunately it appears the president is very measured in what he says. I do not know if it is needing input from Axlerod or what but on one hand it is refreshing , on the other it is troubling. As far as Jacksons life being sad and tragic- well, we had a hand in some of that. Jealousy can produce horrible things in people and an entire society. Still, there is something about tragedy being the maiden of art and the mother of creativity. He was a package and one we were fortunate to have.

    June 26, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. Judson

    I'm a huge Obama supporter but I must admit that I'm a little disappointed Obama did not mention the true depth that Michael Jackson touched not only the US but the world. Come on Obama.....the outpouring across the nation as well as the world should let you know that this man deserves a word from the President

    June 26, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  23. tom

    My mother was a 58 years old alcoholic who died of a heart attack. We were shocked. Bush (at the time) said nothing. Too many sad things happen too often. I understand MJ is worthy of commentary for many reasons but I also think Obama shouldn't do more or less than what he did. It's also sad to read through these comments and see how angry people are whether it's because the don't like Obama or because they do. It's also sad to see the spelling and grammar mistakes. Americans should realize they are slowly turning into angry, uneducated masses and I'm sure that comment will inspire fire. Borderlines yelling at other borderlines.

    June 26, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. CRB

    hey, at least he SAID something. I wish, what with the fact that Michael Jackson was, indeed, recognized by all presidents from Carter to Bush Jr. (though he didn't go to the White House for either of W's terms thankfully–I'm glad he dodged that bullet of getting infected with W's stupidity), that a more formal statement had been released, but come on. be happy with what we DID get. at LEAST Obama acknowledged this.

    June 26, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. americancitizen

    Unbelievable. Obama and staff are quicker to comment on Jackson's death than the atrocities occuring in Iran.

    June 26, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
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