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. Ron B.

    A positive point for Barack Obama – miffing Jesse Jackson.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    What eaxctly did Mr. Jackson say?

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Wil

    Not an issue. You are trying to make it one. LET IT GO...There has to be something better to report. If not start doing like every other company and lay some of the workers off who write these stupid articles.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. skinny dog

    Jesse probably will vote for McCain behind the booth.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Jennifer

    Why isn't CNN publishing what Jackson said about Obama?

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Leslie Dell, Baltimore, MD

    If it were a white person making a negative comment, you would quote it in the press over and over. But,. oh no, it was said by a black person. So you don't print what was said. No where do I read what he actually said. A very continuing sad double standard. Tell us what he said!!

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Outraged

    How could Mr. Adultery Jessie Jackson have any remarks about anybody. He need to clean his own house before he remark on somebody house... This is all the medial need to hear, they will spin this like eggs boiling in hot water....

    Jealousy...Pure Jealousy!!!!!

    Obama Keep Your head up...

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. 58-year-old white woman

    Methinks someone is jealous of another's success. Now, Jackson looks petty and immature.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. T-Mc

    Jessie Jackson is known for putting his foot in his mouth. Remember when he made the infamous "Hymietown" remark when he ran for president in 1984? Mr. Jackson really needs to sit down.

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Californian 4 Obama!

    I don't see a problem with telling dead beat dads to step up. He should be Thanked!

    July 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. CT voter

    Fox news people are such piece's of crap, they are worse than the paparazzi, god i hope their ratings plumet.

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. dem 08

    Typical. Afterall, I am sure Jesse is jealous after all of his failed attempts at a party nomination. Also, why should a group be responsible for themselves when welfare and crutches from people like Jesse and Uncle Al exist?

    Thank you Obama for holding people accountable!

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Bob

    The truth hurts.

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Jordan


    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. LaShanda

    Barack was right about his comments. It was "tough love." Fathers need to step up and take responsibility. Jesse should have been preaching this SAME message.

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. twinkie

    If only Obama had a different stand on abortion he would be an excellent candidate.

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. zuki

    Jesse, please chill.

    July 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |

    Everything that Obama said is true! Why didn't Jesse say it a long time ago? Or is he upset that he didn't say it first? I don't know, but this is the second time Jesse got caught saying something that he thought no one would hear?

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Aldine

    Can't we keep this conversation in the family? I agree that there are challenges in the African-American community that are unparalleled in other communities. The solutions need to rise out of the community and not necessarily from the government.

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Jeremy

    I don't believe it! Jesse Jackson apologizes for something! Is this a sign of the apocalypse?!

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Sharon

    Someone needs to lecture Obama.

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  22. dkroll

    Does it really matter? They both are totally unqualified to be President of this great Country.

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Tim

    Leave it to Jackson to call Obama's success a "redemptive" moment.
    He just can't let it go. As long as there are people like him around, rascism will live on. Obama is going out of his way to keep race out of this. I commend him for that.
    Obama 08

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Nevada

    Hmmm...listening to the big deal CNN is making of this, makes me put CNN's professionalism in question, too ...

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. Bitter - New Orleans, LA

    An apology. Hmm. Maybe he should clue Al Sharpton in on how those things work.

    July 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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