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. baljeet

    Barak Obama can do no wrong , he is perfect and we should vote for him no matter what other people say about him. Thai is the message we get from the obama team.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. GLH

    What is there to apologize for, Jesse Jackson said it, meant it and got caught red handed for his remark. Unfortunately the Democrats do not have the discpilne to shut up and unify behind their candidate. Obama's comments were valid and relevant. Jackson's, as always, were pandering and motivated not by conviction and courage but by what he thought people wanted to hear.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Me

    Let's get this straight Nevada, Jesse Jackson says something derogatory about Obama and it's the fault of Fox? Good luck with that.

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. V New York

    It is Fox's duty to report news. This is news. How does that make them "low"? Indeed, the "lowest of the low"?

    Are the news outlets to be blamed for the actions of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    Should we "shield the public" from this issue?

    Please explain.

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

    FOX and (reputable) NEWS don't belong in the same sentence.
    Sen. Obama was only raising an issue that should be important to all and was making it relevant to those he was speaking to at the time.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Steve

    Where is the link to the sound bite? What did Jesse say?

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Tony

    Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s nice to see Jackson take responsibility for his words and apologize; a lesser man would not have done so.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    He does not need to apologize. I agree, the democrative nominee went out of line. I give Jackson credit for saying it like it is. What does Farrakhan have to say?

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

    The press won't repeat what Jesse Jackson actually said. Would a McCain supporter receive the same consideration? No way. The press would be putting the crude, offensive language out there high volume, and they'd make sure it was connected to McCain.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Kevin

    Wait, Nevada – Jesse Jackson's true feelings about Obama finally coming to light is somehow the fault of FNC?

    This is beautiful. Were you similarly dismissive of Reagan's legendary "bombing begins in five minutes" hot-mic gaffe? Of the media putting troop positions and combat strategies on television for the enemy to watch? Of the media exposing Dick Cheney's dressing down of a colleague in a private conversation on the Senate floor?

    I somehow doubt it.

    I'm not sure what will be more entertaining – hearing what Jackson really thinks, or watching every channel BUT Fox try to explain it away in the hopes that the official candidate of the media gets elected in November.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Texas

    Seems like everyday Obama steps in it. He's the last thing we need for a president. He's a JOKE!

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Ryuken

    Well Senator Obama is hurting his credibility with white voters through is connection to that horrible church he has been a part of for 30 years. I can't vote for anyone who for 20 years has been part of an organization that preaches hate and racism.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Cal

    Reminds me of the old line, "I'll be for you or against you, whichever will do you the most good."

    Add Jesse Jackson to the list of people whose opposition helps Obama secure the middle ground...Karl Rove, Hamas, etc.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Adonay

    to be honest I am glad Obama is being honest in saying hey there are many Blacks that give the majority a bad name. There are also many Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Europeans, etc that do the same to those groups.

    We all jump at the first hint of a failure to criticize the majority, instead of thakning and motiviating those that do good. Here Obama is simply in a sense saying "lets prove to to ourselves and to all that we are a great group of people that doea help this country." Shame on Jesse for disparaging remarks of a man willing to stand up and say enough!

    I am hispanic, grew up in the DC area. I went to private shcool and pursuing an aerospace engineering career. I also ahve had my furstrations with portrayls of Hispanics, but mostly with the vainty and ignorance of many Hispanics I have known. The majority are hard workers and honest people. One can say the same of any other group. All of us have flaws, but instead of accepting them or pointing them out, we should rectify them! I applaud Obama for asking not just Blacks but all people to better themselves. No I am not a democrat, I have been a registered Republican (moderate) for some time now.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Dre

    So in other words, don't tell blacks what they need to hear. Keep the dirty laundry of the Black community quiet; shhhhhh! Better not talk about it! Meanwhile, self appointed black "leaders" like Jackson and Sharpton continue to lead blacks down the wrong path and continue their 40+ years of destroying Dr. King's vision of black folks. I have more respect for my own people of 40 years ago and earlier than I do now.

    I guess instead of preaching self reliance, he'd be happier if Obama was going around preaching the ol' "You are the victim of white America" nonsense.

    As a black person, I find the man(Jackson) shameful.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. barackobama4prez

    How is he hurting his message Rev? This is old news in the Black churches. Shut your hole...he doesn't need "help".

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Adam, Pittsburgh

    In some ways, Obama will probably take all the Jackson/Sharpton criticism he can get.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. tom

    Nevada, don't be such an idiot. It probably was unintentional. This sort of thing has happened at just about every news channel I have ever watched. Plus, I wonder why anyone still cares what Jesse says–he is about the most pathetic public figure there is. Apparently, he thinks he is the only one who can give advice to the black community. Barry finally says something right and Jesse can't stand it–if followed it would put him out of business and he would have to get a real job.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Anthony

    I guess this is news. Just the fact that it was Fox who recorded this makes it even worse.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. BeakKnocker

    Jessie Jackson has, like Ralph Nader, become an ineffectual
    and out of touch dramatist, desperate to remain on the national stage.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Dale Stewart

    Barack said nothing to evoke such a comment from Jackson. It shows what a hypocrite Jackson is and what a competent leader Obama is.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Ehiwario

    Go Obama!

    Chuks ehiwari, Germany

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. jmm232

    Seems funny that someone without any moral fiber would criticize someone about their morality. What Obama said was truth. If "religious leaders" aren't going to say what is needed, I applaud Obama for doing so.

    Jackson is a sleezy opportunist. Nothing more.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. fixmaster

    And where is the comment he made? How is this complete news if you are not even quoting the actual comments he made?

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Cynthia

    Barack Obama's comments about the negative impact of children growing up without a father were an insult to the tens of thousands of lesbian mothers in the country who are raising healthy, moral, and well-loved children without a father in the home. His comments may have offended Jesse Jackson as a black man but they offended me as a lesbian. Obama seems to continue this pattern of insensitive comments that offend many...including his absurd and misogynistic comment to Senator Clinton during the Unity, NH appearance that she does so many wonderful things for this country "all while wearing heels." What a jerk.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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