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. Joseph

    Jesse Jackson is one of those old civil rights era leaders that need to step out of the public eye and let the next generation work on today's problems. He, like many of the older civil rights leaders supported Clinton and are angry that the little influence they had left has evaporated.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Olivia D. Sanders

    Fox is indeed the scum of cable network news. But Rev. Jackson ought to know better than the publicly in ANY setting say anything disparaging about such a public figure as Senator Obama. Some conversations are better left in the comforts of your own home with family.

    The big issue with this news story is Rev. Jackson was once running for the same office Senator Obama seems poised to win.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. EJO

    The Rev is out of touch. As a black man, I agree with Senator Obama. Its time that someone had the courage to say it in our community.

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

    Rev. Jackson is two faced as they come.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Cindy in Boston

    Jesse Jackson is a big nut...people like him 're reasons why blacks 're behind. Blacks need morality and family value definitely they do.... Shame on you Mr hypocrisy...

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

    This will hurt Jesse Jackson more than anything. Oddly enough, it might actually help Obama.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Susan

    Jesse jackson has always veen careful about what he says. What he said is understandable.

    July 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. deano

    Oh Nevada, you make a lot of sense. Jackson says something about Obama and you blame FOX. TYPICAL!!!

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

    Almost lends some credibility to Obama. I can't think of a higher compliment than to be insulted by Jessie Jackson. It is people like Jessie Jackson who have continually fought for government entitlement programs that have cripled black males in there roles as leaders and fathers.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. RiverMan

    Is Jesse Green? As in jealously?

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. cdabigpicture

    It would be the FAUX news genrerating this story , Obama is correct, and since he was a organizer on the South side of Chicago then he saw First hand what the Black male community is doing to itself. If Rev Jackson took offense to the statmements then he should do something about it being his Headquaters is right in the middle of that said Community. NEXT on FAUX news reports show Obama got a C on his 4th grade math test.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Indianapolis

    I don't care for obama, but the man is right about this... Cosby said it YEARS AGO, and no one listened... guys like sharpton and jesse jackson swept it under the rug.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. What did he say?

    Anyone know what he said?

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. diesel

    Hey Nevada, what's FOX got to do with this?

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. fc

    barak obama is going to take out on all other men the fact that he didn't have a father. i, for one, am fed up with his feminist lectures. men are just as good OR bad as women are. period. end of story. instead of his lectures, he should either equally lecture women, you know who have babies with 10 different fathers to collect welfare, who murder their children and husbands, who gold-dig men AND taxpayers at high rates, etc., etc. stop trashing men and boys, obama because you had a loser father and are surrounded by women who encourage this behavior. my young nephews have enough problems without hearing your male-bashing B.S.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Dale

    What did he say?

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Tim P

    "That was the context of my private conversation and it does not reflect any disparagement on my part for the historic event in which we are involved or my pride in Senator Barack Obama, who is leading it, whom I have supported by crisscrossing this nation in every level of media and audience from the beginning in absolute terms."

    It's funny how Rev. Jackson counts on caucasian people to make negative remarks regarding african-american people so that he may have a livelyhood, however when he bashes an african american it is just supposed to be ok.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. celusil

    Personal responsibility is a big deal.

    I don't have any problem with anything Barack said on this issue
    most of what he said is true facts, some were a matter of opinion which I agree with.

    Jesse asking that he only speak to government responsibilities and actions that goverments can take to fix the problem is a position that I understand but don't entirely agree with.

    If My president decides to point out that we all need a little more personal responsibility in our lives, I don't think that's a bad thing.

    I don't agree with any politician, politicking from the pulpit – but Barack is certainly not the only one who's done it or will do it.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. pdec

    Go ahead, blame FOX. I'm amazed CNN even paid lip service to this. Rev. Jackson is in a life and death struggle with relevance, and Obama is much better off without him. Speaking of (ir)relevance, why hasn't mediawatch.com mobilized Rev. Sharpton? Can you imagine what would have happened if Imus said any of this?

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Citizens For America First





    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Chicago Guy

    Jesse Jackson no doubt said something racist seeing that Barack is biracial.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Tracy

    As racist of network as FOX is, Rev. Jackson should have known they would pull a stunt to pounce on Obama. This just seems like another effort to derail Obama's chances by eliciting controversy between Obama and Rev. Jackson. I hope that Obama supporters are intelligent enough to realize this.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Jim

    Really how bad could it be? We know its not something racist. Most likely it was something small that was taken out of context that could sound like he doesn't support Barack if edited correctly. This statement is just to try to preempt anything Fox News may try to pull.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Chris

    Please do not let this story become so much of a circus that it takes away from the message that Obama delivered concerning the state of affairs for the black family, particulary his message regarding black fathers (or the absence of them). And to call this deja vu, as if this is even close to the Wright situation is very off base.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. alda

    Having Jesse on Obama's "team" is a liability. Jesse may get him the radical black vote but that isn't going to win the election. He needs to get away from this bozo.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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