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. David Stone

    I think Barak was saying all the right things to the African-Amarican community. About 70% of children born out of wedlock. And the list goes on.

    The "reverand" was upset because he knows it is true and he himself has cheated on his wife.

    Good job Fox News.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Kel

    Hey lets blame this on Fox for having a working microphone and not Jesse for saying what he feels, but does not have the guts to do in public. Let me guess some crackpot thinks this is a RNC conspiracy.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Jackson Lee Wood

    We love you FOX ; keep up the good work!!! hoorah

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Kevin

    Jessie Jackson is a backward moron. I wish he would just go to Hong Kong or some other far off place and we could never see his stupid face or his constant drone of absurdness.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. KLA357

    Jesse Jackson has been in and around politics for many years. The presence of microphones is not something new. Incidents of these microphones picking up private conversations is not new. He should have known better. Period! This is not a big issue, nor is it something that should be repeated after today, but I do find it strange that Mr. Jackson allowed his private conversation to be conducted in the vicinity of microphones.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. bob

    The day that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton apologize for making socially harmful remarks against a white man, will be the day that i start to give 2 cents about what the self appointed spokesmen for black-america have to say

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Jim

    "FOX is the lowest of the low" Oh my yes....can you imagine the reaction of the other networks if a McCain advisor would have said something similar?

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Jaci

    As an 30-something African American, not only was Jesse Jackson off base with his remarks, he's just plain wrong!

    He is completely out of touch with this generation and what we need and want to hear. I agree and was not offended by the comments Barack Obama made when addressing the community.

    UNLIKE Jesse Jackson, Obama is relevant to the political landscape and the message NEEDED to come from Obama.

    UNLIKE Jesse Jackson, Obama has CREDIBILITY when it comes to being a family man and a good father and husband.

    Obama is NOT hurting his relationship with Black People who are responsible and would be voting this fall.

    Jesse Jackson needs to ride off into the sunset.....

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Mike, Syracuse NY

    That's right Jesse. 70% of black children are born out of wedlock and it's the government's fault. Try taking some personal responsibility for once.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. Henry n New York

    It seems the old political guards are loosing their tough – first Clinton now Jackson. I remember when I was younger my elders use to say "if they are talking about you then you must be doing something right". I guess Sen. Obama is doing a lot right when dems and repub. all have something to say about him.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Don't apologize Jesse. I'm tired of Obama pontificating. He is a politician, not second coming of christ.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Larry Kraus

    Fox more than likely baited The Rev. Jesse Jackson knowing full well that they had an open microphone. They will do all they can to damage the Obama campaign.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. missouri

    So we blame FOX for the honorable reverends crude remarks?

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Joe Minneapolis, MN

    I can't wait to hear what was said, I love it.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. JFoster

    Obama got criticizing for conducting "moral" lectures at a church?... ok. Frankly, I don't remember the last time I went to Church and didn't get a moral lecture... or is that just a catholic thing?

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Dave

    Well the racist Jesse is called on the carpet.
    Funny he apologizes to Barak but not to the white community?
    As if being white bad he calls Barak acting like he is white.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. mikew

    why is FOX the lowest of the low for leaving on a mic or getting something damaging to Obama? Its already sad that none in America can say any thing negative about St.Obama without being called a racist. Well now maybe the shoe is on the other foot and black leaders aren't happy with one of their own. Jessie spoke his mind and you Liberals want it censored, Thats typical of the left and blaming FOX for this is just dumb. If CNN had an open mic an something was said about McCain the left wingers would be happy as pigs in slop.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Dark Knight

    I'm sure Liberals will rake Fox over the coals because of this, but its okay if Pres. Bush is caught unknowinly on tape. Pot, meet kettle.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Ern

    Right Jesse Jackson....It's the government's fault that so many black fathers abandon their children.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Mike

    Not good enough, he needs to have a sit down with Barack and apologize personally. Prior to the sit-down, Barack needs to have all news stations follow him into a dominantly moral setting as he strongly urges the need for a direct, focused apology from the reverend and for the rev to put in a few hours of community service at a place of high morals, like a church.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. mother raising children alone

    And what did Obama say that was wrong?

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    This is a non-issue, CNN are you printing this to cause a divide in the Black Community? You really need to give the Black Community more credit than that. And why was it just that fox news mike happen to be the mike that picked it up! And why is it that CNN always blows things out of proportion. If I was the Obama campaign, I would not allow fox news or cnn to be anywhere near Obama.

    I know you may not post this! But at least I know you read it.

    Where is mccain's moral?

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. ros

    If onecan not give a moral lecture in a church where does Mr. Jackson propose it should be given? Maybe if Mr. Jackson had listened to a moral lecture and better yet taken it to heart he would not have fathered a baby out of wedlock while still married!

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Rick from Chicago

    Obama was right about what he said in his lectures .. he even stated it WASN'T just a problem in the black community. The problem is just more prevalent there.

    Bill Cosby has been saying the same things for years – too many fathers bail on their kids leaving the mothers to do all the raising, and when they cant be BOTH parents at once, the streets fill in the void.

    Clearly these problems need to be addressed rather than ignored.

    Jackson just cant accept the truth apparently. And if he was as much of a "reverend" as he's supposed to be .. HE would have been the one saying these things a long time ago.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |

    July 9th, 2008 4:18 pm ET

    FOX is the lowest of the low. Nothing professional on that news station…
    There's nothing on FoxNews about this story.
    I hope it's just muchado about nothing.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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