July 9th, 2008
04:25 PM ET
15 years ago

Jesse Jackson apologizes for comments critical of Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/09/art.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Jackson apologized for his comments about Obama Wednesday."](CNN) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson issued an apology to Barack Obama Wednesday for making what he called a "crude and hurtful" remark about the Illinois senator's recent comments directed toward some members of the black community.

According to Jackson, a Fox News microphone picked up comments he meant to deliver privately that seemed to disparage the presumptive Democratic nominee for appearing to lecture the black community on morality.

Jackson, who has endorsed Obama, didn't elaborate on the context of his remarks, except to say he was trying to explain that Obama was hurting his relationship with black voters by recently conducting "moral" lectures at African-American churches.

Watch: Jackson apologizes to Obama

Jackson's apology came a few hours before Fox News planned to air the remarks.

Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Jackson said he feels "very distressed" over the comments.

"This is a sound bite in a broader conversation about urban policy and racial disparities. I feel very distressed because I'm supportive of this campaign and with the senator, what he has done and is doing," he said. "I said he comes down as speaking down to black people. The moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care. That's a range of issues on the menu.

"Then I said something I regret was crude. It was very private. And very much a sound bite," he also said.

In a statement issued earlier Wednesday to CNN, Jackson said, "For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment."

Over the course of the campaign season, Obama has at times directed criticism directly to the black community, most sharply in a Chicago speech on Father's Day that criticized some men for failing in their duties as parents.

"They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it," Obama said then.

"You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics: that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison," he also said.

The Obama campaign had no immediate comment.

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soundoff (400 Responses)
  1. Lambert Moore

    I am a 52 year old male african american and we have got to move beyond of when criticism is level against the african american community if it is true it is what it is and it is up to the individuals to accept or change .

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. maurice

    if its on Fox News it smells..... Get ready Obama for everything and the kitchen sink.... .. power isnt giving, its taken...

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Bdiddy from Chicago

    One element they both have is that they are both correct. Obama's argument like Bill Cosby is correct the stats are behind it but one critical note that rev Jackson states is true that if you remove the elements of racism, high poverty and other factors that disporportionately effect the Black Community we don't know if those numbers will hold true.

    We cannot ignore the reasons why Black men are absent from the home and just say it's by choice, there are factors that contribute to that behavior. As leaders they have to attack both sides not just lable it a Black problem.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Shawn, Takoma Park, MD

    If anything, this will help Obama.

    He was absolutely right, afterall. The black community obviously DOES have a problem with black male responsibility in the family and it's just a fact. Jesse Jackson just can't admit that and he will never help the black community until he does.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Uhm, what exactly did Jesse say that was supposedly offensive? What kind of shoddy "reporting" gives you the text of an apology with no mention of why he's giving it?

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. John

    Its alright Jesse just work your hardest for Barack, I grew up poor and white here in Iowa. We are divided more by a rich poor gap then ANYTHING else during my lifetime. All my brothers and sisters no matter what color, sexual prefrence, race, religion, or anything else should be treated as anything but equal. WE all need to join together and take this country away from the rich and special intrests and make this country great. Equality is equality, everyone should be looked after. Not the rich get richer like it has been. And to the critics that is not socalism thats Equal Rights for all.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Chris

    Tenn Man, I think your name pretty much gave your stance away before you even commented.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. karen-phoenix

    If the media keeps their mouths shut and ignores this it will go away!! Just another way of Jackson getting the spot light. Loved how Obama has tried to bring "morality" back into the US for everyone-white and black!!! Great family–no divorce–no drugs and Mom, Dad and girls really do things together!!! Love the image for new young American families-white and black!!! And I'm a white gramma!!

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Indianapolis

    Ever since the civil rights movement has been over in this country (IE – late 60's) Jesse jackson has been seeking some form of relevancy... more to Kuro's point.... the guy likes to talk and see his picture in the paper. Sounds more like self-gratification than anything.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Ohio

    Hey Nevada. Instead of calling Fox the "lowest of the low" for reporting something that is actually newsworthy, why don't you take a look at the good reverend Jesse and throw some of your misdirected bitterness toward him. It's too bad that your liberal blinders won't let you see things as they really are... Jesse is a racist and Barack is an empty suit who is good at reading a teleprompter. Martin Luther King Jr. emplored us to "judge a man by the content of his character, not the color of his skin" and yet, multitudes of African Americans are jumping on the Obama band wagon BECAUSE of the color of his skin. How can any African American Christian (Jesse, Sharpton, etc.) be a supporter of Obama, who has so vehemently pushed for the legalized murder of babies, whether they're unborn, partially born, or even "accidentally" born?

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. soWhat

    OMG! Someone was caught saying something negative about Obama! They should have their citizenship stripped and deported to some third world country.

    After all, this is Obama and everyone knows that negative remarks by anyone (media, personal and opinions) towards Obama are not allowed in this country!

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Illinois

    I wonder...did Obama's comments strike a cord with Jackson? Maybe if someone spoke of morality more often he and others representing the clergy may have chosen a different course of action in their own lives. If not Obama, who? Somebody needs to say it. And don't shot the messenger. It is not who's right...it's what's right. And clearly screwing around outside the marriage creating children out of wedlock is a problem. But it is not just in the African American churches. How can anyone be mad at him for telling it like it is? In stead of getting mad, make the adjustment and live longer, happier lives. Did he say it because he hated you? or because he wants to see you prosper? Stop getting it twisted. I guess Jackson would be mad it someone came up to his house and told him his house was on fire...He might respond, 'mind your own business! and what are you qualifications for determining when there is a fire?"

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. Talulah

    Jesse Jackson is a poor excuse and has a lot of nerve insulting anyone. He's just searching for more fame. He does not speak for Black Americans (or African Americans as he would say). Go away, Jesse. Obama is the truth and you can't handle it!

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Phantom of the Oprah

    See? No one can criticize Obama- because he won't allow it because he believes he is the Messiah.

    Bush... well who DOESN'T RIP HIM?

    Hillary... boy, so-called-democrats sure did denigrate and trash her- all in the name of hope, unity and change. And the sexual comments were best.

    McCain... McPain, McSame, McShame, McBush... and all the usual slurs used against HRC.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. MB

    Rev- you were caught that is why you are apologizing. Let the truth be told- All fathers take care of your children period. Black and Proud to be raising my 2 kids and my other 2 step kids

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. James

    I am not sure what the comments were by reading this article. Why have breaking news about an apology for comments the readers don't know?

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. karela

    I thought we all agreed that spying on Americans was bad. In a private conversation, an American who widely supports a certain presidential candidate, expressed one small area of disagreement--and a news station that functions without integrity, captured it on tape by using subterfuge and special equipment. That says a whole lot more about Fox News than it does about Jackson or Obama. And what it's saying isn't good for Fox or for our civil liberties. Since Obama does not have a clone, I doubt that there is one person in the country who agrees with absolutely everything he says, but that doesn't mean we don't totally support his presidency. I hope Jackson sues them down to their ugly, yellow, curved toenails.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. John

    Did I miss something? I have already heard the Rev. Jackson apologize and explain his negative remarks about Obama, but you have not reported even an edited version of his "hot mike" comments. Where is the heart of the story? Are you going to to report the whole story??? Seems we should be clued in...Thanks

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. Ms. Sims

    The comments Obama said were true! And coming from a black person who was raised in a single parent home i agree. But what people leave out is the fact that he was also talking to all fathers of different races not just black. But he focused in on the AA b/c there is a substantially higher number of single parent home.

    As always some critics will never be satisified. These are the same people who streotype all black people and say they need to get off welfare and take care of their kids and content that Obama is a marxist going to turn America into a welfare state, but when Obama says it's not PC.

    Jesse and Al can both go away for all I care they don't speak for all black people and I wish the MSM would stop paying them attention

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. CaliforniaKid

    Jesse Jackson is the single greatest hypocrite in history. I will never understand why anyone listens to a word the man says. Fortunately very, very few care what he thinks or says anymore. The world is better for it.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Delegate from California

    Rev. Jackson should not have to apologize it all...

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. tr

    This won't hurt Obama, actually it could help him......the AA's are NOT going to vote for McSame anyways and for the whites who are so worried Obama is like Jesse or Rev Sharpton, here Jessie is complaining aout it. It will help Obama overall

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Marie

    Fox should have aired all of Jackson's comments. There are many more issues at hand than absent fathers and Jackson probably pointed out those issues. And by the way, ALL families suffer from divorce or single parenthood by choice or accident – not just Black families. Obama is pandering to Blacks and non-Blacks who believe "if Blacks would just do [fill in the blank] then they wouldn't have all those problems. Blacks need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps." I'm a Black woman (yes, I'm a single parent & I've raised 3 wonderful sons – 2 with college degrees, one who is presently in college – thank you very much!). I'm tired of Obama and others pandering to folks who focus on the problems and then generalize to get brownie points.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Henry

    How can you shift blame onto FOX News for this??? I can't say I'm a FOX fan...far from it, but the comments by Mr. Jackson only reveal a problem within the black community itself-denial. Many leading black political leaders cringe when they hear the TRUTH about the state of the black community. Barack is one of the few brave black men that will stand up and say there is not always a white man to blame for some problems. Black men – like himself!- can achieve many things and serve as role models for these young black boys.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. SOME GUY

    How is this in any way different than either issue involving Don Imus?

    Where is the righteous indignation and demands for his immediate firing?

    Oh, wait a minute, he doesn't technically have a job to lose. How exactly does one go about unseating a self appointed "guardian of the black community"?

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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