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. ben

    If you back leaders don't stop with this race race race stuff, you are going to help Obama alright! You are going to help send him down to defeat! He can win, and should win! You can help him by shutting up and let us elect him.

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Philly

    Yeah Nevada ... blame Fox ... not Jackson. Typical Lib!!

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Mom4Barack

    As a forty year old African American, Jesse Jackson stopped speaking for me years ago. Maybe he should have listened to a speech on morals when cheated on his wife and had an illegitimate child. Barack please keep speaking truth to our community. Someone needs to say it.

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Jeff

    I guess now even Jesse Jackson will have to go kiss up to Al Sharpton for disrespecting the black community.

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Necie

    I don't see this as a big deal. What Sen Obama said was true and the only way we can change this generational problem is to address it...in and out of the public. We need (and I applaud) strong Black Men for standing up and speaking out...not just Sen Obama, but Bill Cosby has been doing the same across the nation. I REFUSE to be offended because some of our men are ashamed and don't want to be challenged to change.

    BTW – I'm a 45 YR OLD Black Female for OBAMA '08-12

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Omar, New York

    Well..... what did he say?!

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Ken

    Hey Nevada, a Fox News mic happened to catch the comments. They have every right to make this known. Just because CNN has their lips all over NObama doesn't mean everyone else has to. Jesse Jackson and the likes can't shut up.

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    It's about time Jesse Jackson was called on his remarks!!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. confisus sum

    You have got to be kidding me. It is Fox's fault for catching Jesse saying what he thinks? How hypocritical are you liberal socialists?

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. MAB

    I commend Obama for addressing the issue instead of blaming the government or coddling the community as Rev. Jackson does.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Arizona

    Why blame Fox? Perhaps Jesse needs to tame his tongue.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Kevin

    I hope this doesn't blow up into something big, because it's not

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Dave

    Jesse Jackson opened his mouth and inserted his own foot, and he is the only ONE to blame...

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. Real person for Obama.

    Well be careful about what you say.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. Peg Robson

    What is this election all about? Is it Obama and his personal issues or electing a president for our country...all that seems to come out of the Obama camp is controversy...no solid answers about anything. Where are we going here? Rev Wright, Rev Jackson....whose next? Certainly doesn't seem to be the american public. Bad news if he becomes our president.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. sharon

    Jesse Jackson is a hypocrite, a liar, a smear merchant, a user, and the lowest of the low. How anyone pays any attention to the useless garbage that comes out of his mouth is beyond me. He makes ambulance chasers look good in comparison.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Laura

    HAHAHA!!! I think this is hysterical! Division within the "ranks!" Seriously. We need a "real" candidate. I can't vote for either Obama or McCain, although I think McCain would do a heck of a lot more to protect us. Look at their responses to Iran's actions today.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. kewl breeze

    you know that despite all the rhetoric obama is the black candidate with extreme liberal support ... there really is no substance to him

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Rick


    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. NOBAMA

    Nevada, I see blame Jesse Jackson's comments on FOX? You're lowest of low.

    Jesse Jackson is exactly correct. Imagine if a white nominee would have spoken that way to black males, his political carear would be over.

    Clinton 2008

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. karim

    well that is one way to hurt him as becoming president

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. ed

    Gosh, i know "Nevada", shame on that darn Fox network for letting the truth get out on the democrates. There're just horrible.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Mitch

    Gotta love the left. Jesse Jackson makes the comment and idiots blame FOX because they caught it on tape. Why don't you blame the person who made the comment? Hypocrites.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Iyke O

    That's okay, You apology I am sure has been accepted. Let's move on.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Joe

    If Imus had made the same comments I'm sure the Rev would be asking for his job...what a hypocrite

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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