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. Denise

    Jessie, even if you thought you were off mike, it still was wrong to talk about Obama behind his back, if you are a so called supporter.

    July 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Peter E

    No black person owes ANY apology to Obama. Jesse Jackson was at least part of the Civil Rights movement. Obama? He doesn't even have American slaves in his ancestry! All he ever did was exploit the white guilt, play the race card, and pretend to be the victim.
    It's disgusting!
    Mr. Jackson! DON'T apologize to this pretentious exploiter!

    July 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. not important

    Jesse Jackson only wants publicity.

    July 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. TOH

    Obama's statement about the black male during his Father's Day speech was true. Too many of ous sons, brothers, are fathering children and not being responsible. Where is the stand for morality; marrying some man's daugther instead of dropping it like it's hot! Many of these young men have nice cars, fancy clothes, and living in their parents homes. Like a very well know music artist said "moma's talking about "that's my baby"; yes; making babies in your house!

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Brian

    From the man who brought you "Hymie-town'

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. David

    That's too funny.

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Pam

    Jesse Jackson, It is over for him, and no one will listen to him.

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Mike

    Jesse, we have all made comments about Obama and will continue to with his farce and Obamabot following.

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Andrea E- Atlanta

    Three goes FOX News again trying to drum up a story. These guys are worse than pathetic.

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Tiffany J, Cincinnati


    It's all about race, right?

    I realize racism isn't completely dead in this country, but give it a break. So tired of hearing about it. The only way it's going to die is if leaders, teachers, parents, *ahem* and news networks stop fanning the fire!

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Mike

    Welcome back Ted.

    July 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Ben Chavis

    Go to Georgia and register voters Jesse that's how you can help instead of hurt.

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Brendan

    Why is it that when someone like imus says something people di-sect it. We dont even know what jackson said because it is being thrown under the rug.. we should be able to know what he said, and he should have to face the consecquences just like everyone else.

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Jason

    Jesse Jackson = epic fail

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. John Wade

    Why am I not surprised. A Fox News microphone picked it up.

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. PUMA for BARR

    this could only be good for Obama. But still voting for Barr.

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Jay

    Is the Obama campaign and his surrogates going to accuse Jesse Jackson of racism? I doubt it.

    July 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Saad from NJ

    "According to Jackson, a Fox News microphone picked up comments....."

    ha ha ha.... evil catches evil.... or an idiot catches an idiot!!! LOL!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Barack the Vote in RI

    "My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males...."

    This coming from a man who had a child with his mistress.

    Give me a friggin' break. Obama is a saint compared to this man.

    He needs to follow his own advice.

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Derrick in Houston

    As an African American this is very upsetting. The only thing he is sorry about is that he got caught. Why is he even still around? Hows your illegitimate child?

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. J Gary Fox

    Well ... what did he say?

    Why post an apology without noting what he apologized for?

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. saga4obama

    its all right Jesse we dont have to agree with Pres. Obama on everything to know he is the best man for the white House.

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. DRS

    Jesse, know your place and be comfortable in it. Don't do more harm than good. Not only should your support be unequivocal, but so should your words.

    July 9, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Wayne

    Well what did Jackson say? Stop trying so hard to protect Obama and report the news!

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Omega Psi Phi

    The democratic nominee, Mr. Obama will set the policy and his speach on Father's day was dead on target.

    Back up off him Jesse.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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