July 7th, 2009
02:38 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama: MJ's talent mixed with tragedy

President Obama on Tuesday called Michael Jackson a 'core part of our culture.'
President Obama on Tuesday called Michael Jackson a 'core part of our culture.'

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) – As millions around the globe prepared to watch the public funeral of Michael Jackson, President Obama told CNN on Tuesday the entertainer's legacy will be a man who had extraordinary talent "matched with a big dose of tragedy."

In a CNN interview focused on his diplomatic efforts at a two-day summit in Russia, Obama took a question about Jackson's cultural impact and called him "one of the greatest entertainers of our generation."

"I think like Elvis, like Sinatra, like the Beatles he became a core part of our culture," Obama told CNN. "His extraordinary talent and his music was matched with a big dose of tragedy and difficulty [in] his private life and I don't think we can ignore that."

But Obama added it's important to "affirm what was the best of him and that was captured by his music."

"Music that Michelle and I listened to from the time we were little kids," said Obama. "I remember listening to 'A, B, C' when I was 8 or 9 or 10, and he kept on producing extraordinary music for years after that."


Filed under: Michael Jackson • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Alex

    Hey in Russia...

    Maybe you should go back and study the causes of the unraveling of the Soviet Union. The appetite of Russians for all things Western in the 1970s: Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Levis, and yes Michael Jackson, were all nails in the coffin of the USSR.

    I'm sure even Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush are reflecting a little bit on this day about the important, albeit minor, role Michael Jackson and his music undoubtedly played in ending the Cold War.

    I think I know what's going on with all the Michael Jackson hating on this and other forums... the baby boomers who spent their lives trying to "stay cool" have become the very parents and establishment they rebelled against in the 1960s. I've noticed this in my parents and inlaws in the past year. You're retreading the same arguments your parents made when Elvis died almost 32 years ago. How sad to see what you've become.

    July 7, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Dan

    Michael's family is still "using" him even 2 weeks after his death. Add to that list the "reverand' Sharpton and Jackson. What a mess! None of these people would have half of what they have without living off the notoriety of others hard work. Michael Jackson's last will tells it all. The only people he cared enough about to take care of were his mother and his 3 children. Nothing to all the rest who lived off of his talents his entire life.

    July 7, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Alfred E. Neumann

    Adios, Wacko Jacko!

    July 7, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Robin

    The President was asked a question and out of respect for someone that lost their life Obama responded to the question with a very candid and respectful response.
    Unless you lived MJ's life you cannot know what his personal life was.
    If everyone would be as respectful of someone that dies we could move on!

    July 7, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Obatala-Edmonton

    Its is always about Obama. Couldn't he have simply said positive things period. Obama, there are some people more popular than you.

    July 7, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. KirksNoseHair

    I think everyone needs to just take a deep breath. Obama was asked a question and he answered it. From the looks of the answer it took all of about 10 seconds of his time to answer.

    People need to try and wrap their minds around the fact that a president, or any person for that matter, CAN multi-task.

    Man, the knee-jerk posts on this site are just off the hook sometimes, from both sides of the political spectrum.

    July 7, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. David

    MJ was a Good Entertainer.

    Thats it, Nothing More.

    July 7, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. rachel

    Didnt we are already get this response from him. A day late and a dollar short. I mean what is it he afraid he wouldn't get media coverage without mentioning michael jackson, or reporters just so silly they ask questions like this of the president instead of very important questions like why Is Obama ok with taxing our health care benifits now, and why is Joe is now saying they misread the economy?

    July 7, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. chelle

    That was very well said. An enormous talent that was overshadowed by the tragedy of his life. While I was not a big fan of his music (just not into pop) he was talented. What a shame it went to waste.

    July 7, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. jack, new york, new york

    there is nothing to celebrate about michael jackson. let's forget him and move on.

    July 7, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. wondering how dumb people are

    Ok so like other people have stated, Obama didn't just randomly talk about this. A reporter asked and he answered. He mentioned the tragedy (child molestation in which he was found NOT guilty for). No one will ever know for sure if any of this was true, but after reading about the trials it's obvious to me that the parents were just in it for the money. So instead of trying to demean his extraordinary life by using a couple instances that were found untrue, lets just move on and pay our respects and continue to listen to his music.

    July 7, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. angela

    just give me a break. This was a question that was asked by a reporter.Obama is a million times better than Bush.Sometimes I wonder why the negativity? Not a word when Bush proved that grade school education is the limit when becoming a president.

    Nothing was proven, those boys are now Millionaires. If I was molested ,thank God no, do you think that money,any amount will keep me from persueing the person. The parents rather take the money.hmmmmmmm

    July 7, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Average Guy in Kansas

    Can somebody PLEASE explain to me why so many people in this country are blubbering and soiling themselves over Michael Jackson's death?

    Sure, he was a heck of an entertainer. Sure, he contributed to the body of music. But WHY ON EARTH do we pay so much homage, devote so much attention to Michael Jackson and virtually ignore the nobility and sacrifice of those who were sent to foreign shores and either gave their lives for "freedom" or returned home broken by war and a system of care that is paltry at best.

    Sorry to say this Michael Jackson fans, but it would take thousands upon thousands of your idol to equal the contribution of one American soldier, sailor, airman or marine who's paid a terrible, immeasurable price in service to OUR country.

    Largely, the media should be ashamed of itself for its miserable lack of judgment and lousy priorities. And, sadly, for the most part, we put up with that stupidity.

    July 7, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Ezra

    MJ,did alot more than any musician. Giving back more than $500M, supporting 39 Charities(Guiness book of record). Raising $100M for Africa food relief,Kosovo opharns.etc. What did Elvis do?and what hav u done? Let him rest in peace

    July 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Deb in Colo

    OMG! You'd think with the coverage of Jackson's death – that it was the 2nd coming.

    SO. SO DON'T CARE!!!!

    July 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Melissa

    For gods sakes people, its his funeral. Have some respect instead of being jerks. It will be over soon enough. If you have nothing respectful to say, keep your mouth shut.

    July 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Brian is concerned

    Ok people, lets just relax. I'm Independent/conservative and disagree with the POTUS quite a bit, but he was asked a questioned and he answered it. Lets just get today over with and move on to issues that this great country is facing today. RIP MJ, now lets move on .....

    July 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. jm

    Shame on Obama for trying to Ride MJ's coat tails.

    July 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Peace

    I think the comments were accurate. I also think it is okay for him to answer the question. Believe it or not, there are other things that are going on in the world besides jobs and the economy. No matter what your feelings are about Michael Jackson, good, bad or indifferent, you cannont deny the fact that he was a genius with music. It is not his fault that he touched so many people lives with his music all around the world (including Russia). I am in my 40's and I grew up listening to his music. There is more than enough hours in the day for President Obama to handle the other issues at hand. Give the guy (Obama) a break. He can't do anything without someone complaining about it.

    July 7, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Bob the Observer

    It's about time our American president quit wasting time with all those foreign guys and paid a little tribute to the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.

    It's been really embarrassing that this elected leader of the Free World did not drop everything and come live the experience with all 300,000,000 Americans who know that Michael Jackson is all that matters.

    If he had any decency at all, he would hop a supersonic jet and get to the Staples Center before it's too late.

    I learned how I should feel about this by watching the media tell me what's really important.

    July 7, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Johnny DC

    All of you "innocent until proven guilty" people need a dose of reality. How many trials and lawsuits were abruptly ended with contractually-sealed agreements that undoubtedly protected million-dollar settlements?

    You can't have it both ways. You love to slander the white man and the rich man. Well here was a black man that only secured his freedom with his money. And you still love and defend him. If he was white, you'd be all over him a la Cheney/Bush.

    The man dodged bullet after bullet with his money and his money alone. He wasn't proven innocent in these trials, he purchased a not guilty settlement.

    July 7, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Nette

    In Russia, I think you were mistaken in not reading the entire transcript. The President was asked this question by the media and he answered as any President would (...."affirm what was the best of him and that was captured by his music." ) That's part of his job.

    If want to be upset with questions the media are asking, then maybe you should be upset with the VERY INAPPROPRIATE question asked of him regarding who is Prime Minister Putin is really in control, with the Russian president standing next to him.

    July 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Imarriedmysister in TheOleSouth

    MJ was loved in every country in the world and inspired many people to want freedom and peace,I dont know of one republican that can say that hahaha

    July 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Derek

    I'm excited at the comments posted so far. This indicates to me that the "crazy fringe conservatives" still think they speak for a good portion of America. Keep thinking that way. Really. Do it. Then, in 2010, when Dems pick up several more senate seats and 50 more house seats, *maybe* you'll realize how out of touch with "Real America" *YOU* are.

    Oh, by the way.. Not supporting the president during a time of war = Traitors. (According to Rove and Limbaugh at least). So, should all of you wingnut crazies be thrown in jail?

    July 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Sevin

    To all the critics here; How should have President Obama answered the reporter's question? Any takers?

    Perhaps you all should get together and submit a daily script for the Man to follow. That way he won't misspeak and cause all this trauma for you folks.

    My Lord, give him a break.

    July 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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