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. Bubba

    "Nevada" had no problem with playing "open mike" tapes of Bush and Cheney. But now that Jesse Jackson has been caught in a rare moment of honesty he criticizes FOX's "professionalism." Different set of rules for "the anointed one"? Maybe the two reverends (Wright: "Barack is a politician He'll say what he has to say.") see BHO for what he is: a typical liberal politician willing to do or say anything to get elected.

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Houston Texas

    Gee, perhaps the American people are starting to see how Sharpton, Jackson, Wright, and Barack Obama really are. Just like the white folks they always put down!

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. MikeH

    Fox isn't a news organization, it's the propaganda outlet for the NAZI wing of the Rpublican party

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Charles

    lol he bashes barack for talking to blacks about ethics and morality... wow thats just horrible... i mean really is talking about morality in his race a bad thing, or should he turn a blind eye to issues like it?

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. McBride, SLC, UT

    A Hot Mike mmmmm...... Sounds like FOX NEWS! Really fair and balanced. Learn your lesson people. Quit appearing on this low life news station.

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. bigmama

    I'm certainly no Obama fan, nor do I give a flip about Jesse Jackson – however, if Obama is "lecturing" the black community about responsibility to their children, GOOD FOR HIM! It's about time that someone spoke up, someone who has some credibility with that community, and tells them the truth about what they're doing to themselve, without any help from whitey.

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Video Guy

    Let it go and forget about it. There are more important things to cover.

    July 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. MinTexas

    This could be good for Obama. He's not going to lose African-American support. However, Jesse looking down his nose at Obama for telling black men to act like, well, men likely goes over well with independent white folk.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Jay House

    Jesse Jackson should be grateful a black leader in America can understand and talk about the plight of black culture in the U.S. and the problem with fatherless children, husbandless women, crime, school truancy, personal responsibility, etc.
    Jesse sure as heck isn't, and he has made a living off white guilt now for decades. Perhaps he feels Obama may put a dent in Jesse's efforts to expand the Racial Industrial Complex he has profited so much from much of his life.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. The Austrian


    What did Fox news do here that was wrong? Recorded a nasty comment by a public figure? I'm no fan of FauxNEWS, but did they do anything wrong here? Politicians and those in the public sphere, like Jackson, need to learn that someone is ALWAYS watching and ALWAYS listening. It would be better if Jesse had the moral fortitude to refrain from such speech to begin with.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. CB2

    Barack wasn't lying. Don't criticize the man for speaking the truth. Someone needs to Mr. Rev. Jackson.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. lexi

    maybe jesse should remember this the next time he jumps on someone for saying something in poor taste...

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. John

    Is jesse relevant....really? If he is, is that change? Or is it just the same Demo political machine grinding away? Same platform, same lack of ideas, and the same blame game. Ideas and solutions to tough problems would be change. It is time for the change we are hearing about. I just wish it was real instead of rhetorical.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. BigMacAttack

    Yeah he's sorry alright. Sorry he got caught.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. xddy4u

    Jackson had his chance. He's always putting his foot in his mouth. Remember "hymie town" remark. This shows that he acts one way in public, but is a monster in private. I wouldn't trust Jessie Jackson no farther than I could see him. Don't blame FoxNews. If Jackson would had been more discreet this would not had happened. I'm a brother, and for Obama all the way.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Jason, Texas

    what a turd.... who is supposed to talk about morality to fathers that leave their families and abandon their children? If a white guy said something, it would be taken totally wrong, and rightly so. Jesse, shut up! You go Barack!

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Mike, Eugene, Oregon

    Moron. I just wish these former Clinton gasbags would shut up. They aren't providing money or any meaningful support, they just sit back and alternately demand and threaten, and I'm getting a little sick of it. Jesdse Jackson is typical of these self centered self promoting hacks. Jesse! GO AWAY!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Rick

    Who's is Jesse Jackson ? He is certainly not speaking for me or my family nor is he any kind of leader. It seems that the only time you hear or see him is when someone black gets into something. A true civil rights leader will speak out for anyone who's civil rights have been violated. That goes double for " Rev. Sharpton".

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Chris P

    Nice article. I'm glad Jesse is a supporter for real. He's definetely not a hot headed Reverend Wright so that's a plus, and on top of that, I have a respect for Jesse Jackson because he knows what he's talkin' about and always keeps it real. Obama kept it REALLy real with the Black Father comment. I love it.

    Obama 08

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. T

    Who cares.......I honestly wish that a) the media was not allowed to report on anything related to the election and b) that all candidates for the presidency were not allowed to have teams of experts to guide them. Hillary said this is like a job interview......I have never been allowed to have other people tell me what to do and say during the interview. How about having candidates who can think for themselves instead of spew what their advisers tell them to say. We should just elect the advisers then instead of the mouth piece.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Leon

    Oh come on please. Is Fox News now eavesdropping on people's private conversations. Let's talk about the issues in the election: the war in Iraq, the price of gasoline, the economy.

    Go OBAMA...

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. LOL

    Obama should just go atheist and distance himself far far away from anyone of the cloth XD

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Steve

    So when can we expect the good Reverend Sharpton to be all over this and start his crusade to run Jesse Jackson out of town on a rail?
    Is he on his way yet? Has any picketing started yet? Has Mr. Obama came out and said how his words have hurt him? Is CNN running non stop coverage yet on this incredibly important breaking news?!

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. la treyon

    everytime one opens their mouths i am reminded why the dems have no chance, despite what certain polls by a certain news network profess

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. undecided

    Just HOW was Fox wrong? Jackson made the comment, not Fox; their mic just ppicked it up....

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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