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. Ian

    Well Nevada... you had everything right up to the point where you dignified Fox by referring to them as a news station.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. J S Ragman

    Just shut up Jesse. Obama is correct in his criticism and the only way that the continuing cycle of poverty and one parent families is ever going to slow down is when someone of his stature can stand up and speak the truth. Mr. Obama should be applauded and hailed as a hero in the Black community rather than being criticized for being honest.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Ned Flanders

    Was Reverend Jackson in hymietown when he said this?

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

    Jesse is a clown and has been for a number of years. He just does anything to keep his name out there. Nothing more than a used car salesman.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Denver

    Fox is at it again. a shame.

    July 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Julie

    Reverend Jackson should be REALLY ashamed!

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Jesse is old news – he doesn't represent the blacks no more than Jesse Ventura represent the whites.

    He just wants attention and upset that Barack Obama give a meaningful speech in church and he's not even a preacher.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Steve

    Maybe Al Sharpton will call for him to fired.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. paul

    Wow since Fox allows their mic to stay on that makes them unprofessional.

    So every one should just forget what Jackson said about Obama and blame his words on Fox. that is so funny.

    A person should be held accountable for their words no matter if its on an open or closed mica phone .

    Like CNN would never do that lol.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Sam Smith

    Please give BO a break! Let the truth be told.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. karen

    Jesse couldn't hold a candle to barack.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. EthelM

    Ummm, Nevada, I'm not sure how posting an article makes Fox unprofessional. Obviously Rev Jackson believes he is the only acceptable moral mouthpiece for African-Americans. Bottom line, they all still want the government to take care of everyone's problems. The government does not have a "moral responsibility" to take "corrective action" for those who abandon families and responsibilities.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Joseph

    Who Cares What He said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When is this election every going to be about the issues that needed addressed in this country. I could care less about the "He said, I said, BULL".......Obama, what are you going to do about the price of gas, health care, jobs, the war!?!

    More time should be spent on these types of stories, "not he said, I'm sorry now I have to apologize" crap.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Anne

    Amen to Marc PDX! Jesse Jackson is for himself only. This is nothing new for Fox, either.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Maryland

    Yeah, Nevada, 'cuz CNN would have never put out those comments. Let me guess, CONSPIRACY, huh? Bush and Cheney again!

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Patty

    I bet.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. MJM

    Nevada, you're blaming Fox's microphone for Rev Jacksons comments? His comments weren't a big deal. Would you complain if NBC or CNN mic's overheard a Bush or McCain support negative comments on one of them? Probably not. Go back to sleep.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Kuro

    Jesse...probably just trying for another 15 minutes. The man DOES love to see his picture on the news and in the paper.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. MichaelNYC

    Good. I'm glad this happened. What we have here are some "growing pains" on the part of Mr. Jackson...or should I say "shrinking pains." Obama has become the titular head of the progressive black American political structure, leaving Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the two headed dragon formerly thought of as the co-CEO's of black America obsolete and lost in the shadows. He is now lashing out at Obama out of a sense of rage considering Obama's many successes and the post-racial nature of his candidacy. You've got to expect there would be some sour grapes.

    This also crystallizes to the average cynical (white) voter that Obama is not under the wing of nor at the beck and call of people like Jackson and Sharpton who have been in recent years thought of as hucksters and less than aboveboard individuals.

    So all in all, I'm happy about this news.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Tenn Man

    Hey Nevada,

    When you can't handle the truth, you blame the messenger!

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. An

    Jesse Jackson isn't Obama's friend idiot. This isn't Reverend Wright and everybody knows Jackson has a big Mouth anyway

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. bob j

    hang in there pres elect obama everyone will change there tune when you take the oath of office,our so call leaders black ,white ,yellow ,red,brown will be running to your side and giving you the high fives and saying i knew we could BARACK O8

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. James Morrison, Alexandria VA

    How can anyone make any judgements until they have heard the comments? BTW, what did he say exactly? Someone must know.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. MS

    Nevada – are you serious? Every unbiased evaluation of news shows FOX is as fair as any other news source. Typical liberal reaction to blame the source of the information when the facts don't support your preconceived ideas.

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Bill in Virginia

    This not news. Who cares what Reverend Jackson thinks. He doesn't speak for the majority of the African American community - the vast majority of whom support senator Obama.

    I suspect this exposes more jealousy on Jackson's part than anything else.

    Obama shouldn't pay this any mind, but he should be aware that there probably are a lot of "old-school" black leaders out there who are jealous of his emergence.

    Go Obama!!

    July 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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