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. NC

    how is this fox's fault, they didn't say it Jesse did. Don't say something if you aren't willing to stand behind it.

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. TerryMD

    Come'on Jesse. Don't blow it.

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Erin

    ...but – the most important part – WHAT DID THE REV. SAY? All this backpedalling reported, but nothing on what was actually said! This is indeed CNN, the home of "good reporting," is it not?

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Nic Ledoux, Burlington VT

    It appears to me that Obama has a right to lecture the black community. He did have a father that abandoned him and his mother when he was a child. Maybe this lecturing is of a more personal note. I'm sure Jesse Jackson has lecture some on issues that are dear to him as well...

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. What!!!

    What ever happened to free speech? Does anyone have the right to have an opinion anymore?

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Rich

    And WHAT, exactly, did Jackson say? Not being a viewer of FauxNews, I hadn't heard about this flap. Can't find anything by a Google search using the terms "Jesse Jackson" + Obama + Fox, which seems a bit odd.

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. Obama '08

    Hey Mark,

    It's BARACK. Idiot. The government should take your right to vote for that. FOX is a DIRTY, newsource that has had a vendetta out on Jesse Jackson since he was like five.


    OBAMA '08... Keep The FAITH...

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Tom Messer

    It was not Fox's words! The tongue bespeaks the heart. Jackson is really one to be talking about morality anyway...

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Sandra

    Barack's comments were meant to stimulate debate. This actually helps keep his message about responsibility in circulation for those who need to hear it.

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. Il voter

    I dont see anything wrong in BO's remark on Fathers Day. not just afro-americans but that applies to all boys who shy from responsibility.

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. ben

    oh what, finally being on the apologizing end instead of crying about everything and all the "injustices" of life with his pal al sharpton? haha, jesse, admit it, your just like everybody else, not above everything, and you say stupid things all the time

    July 9, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Steve Ivins, Esq. Arlington, VA

    Fox Nooz – what a surprise.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. Anne E.

    As someone who once respected Jesse Jackson, I have to say IT'S TIME TO SHUT UP, JESSE. You and Al Sharpton bring down the title of "Reverend." GO AWAY.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. kaydeedee

    I was wondering when someone besides Bill Cosby would speak out with common sense on this topic. I was impressed by the candidate's words. Leave it to Jesse J. to be offended by Barack's straight talk.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Sandy

    Oh Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Say something that matters.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. Boyd

    My God. At this day and age and we have a demogouge preaching that it is not a person's fault in being irresponsible. People who want a Republic are against such a "leveling spirit". People who want socialism want such excuses. Grow up, Rev. Jackson. The hot microphone only exposed you for what you probably say in private anyhow.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. Monique

    I do believe Jackson was wrong in the statements he made about obama. I believe he is doing a good job in his endeavors to become president. I believe Jackson needs to close his mouth, because he seems to criticize everyone for their actions. But his actions are far more trifling than those of the ones he places criticism to. It seems lately jackson has been apologizing more and more often, because he says things he supposedly does not mean, kand then he gives the excuse he does not recall saying thses things. Just like the Jena 6 issue, he found his self apologizing to obama, due to the magnitude of his mouth. It shouldn't matter about race, it should matter what the elected officials are trying to do for the people.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. Swalker327

    And oh by the way -


    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Knew It!

    I've suspected for quite some time that the silence of Jackson and Sharpton in regards to Obama was because they knew an Obama win would signal the end of their fevered hold on the Black community. They hate the fact that he's gotten where he is today through good old fashioned hard work and personal sacrifice. Go 'Bama, GO!

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Rodney

    FOX is very unprofessional and non discrete.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |


    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Tom - Cary, NC

    Sounds like FOX is – once again – the only network exposing the truth about Obama.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Mez

    Would you expect any less from FAUX news?

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. TrainChaser

    Why doesn't Jackson stay in his church (if he has one), and keep his mouth and nose out of politics?

    There is supposed to be a definite line between church and state in this country, it's for a reason, and people like Jackson are the reason. If he has a church, and he insists on getting into politics with his big mouth, his church should be a fFOR-profit enterprise, and he should be taxed on all income.


    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Josh

    Oh please, Rev. Jackson is the lowest of the low. Tell him to get a real job.

    July 9, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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