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. Elizabeth Merriwether

    I believe the Rev. Jackson is like so many that want the irresponsibilities of the black male to come across "sugar coated". As a victim of a father who didn't step of to his responsibility, I agree strongly with Senator Obama. Thank God that I'm successful in spite of an absent father.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Bobby

    He owes an appology to white people and needs to make a public apology tour just like Imus had to make. Jesse being a racist shouldn't surprise anyone though.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Responsibility

    Ahh Yes, blame FOX for what Mr. Jackson said. Way to shirk responsiblity...again.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. McCain supporter

    FOX is the worest news station. even due I'm McCain supporter I hate fox news

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Komlan

    These people just can't keep their mouths shut. What kinda supporter are you? You know how the media reacts to such stories; yet you have the audacity to say something that is completely unfunded. The fact is, everything Obama said in those churches is true. And yes I'm black. Not everybody is gonna like the truth, but we should respect Obama for taking his chances and speaking up on these issues most black America faces.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. chipbeef

    Because Fox made the Rev make some comment that he should have kept to himself?

    Geeze, the lengths people will go to...Blame the new for Jackson proving himself to be an imbecile.

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Phil

    Is Al Sharpton going to attack Jesse Jackson over this?

    July 9, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. The Dragon

    After Obama wins in November, Jesse will no longer have a role in the black community.


    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Betty Jean

    Of course Rev. Jackson would disagree with Senator Obama's efforts to correct and help black men do better. Rev. Jackson does not have clean hands, so of course he takes it personally!

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. craig

    Jackson is an embaresment to the black community. He has done more to flame racial tensions than ten thousand white folk. He never has been able to keep his mouth shut. He is exactly who Obama is refering to in the black community that is moraly on the wrong side of the fence. The republicans can enjoy the fact that he will hurt Obama more than he will help him. Another example of Obama having a relationship and the support of a black religous man who can't keep his mouth shut becuase it is not connected to a brain!

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    All the "religious" folk should stay out of this election cycle. Look at what "faith" brought us the last 7 1/2 years.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. usa

    the republicans are behind this,using mind control techniques garnered from chinese,to use a well-known black man to dis obama.we are so used to their sneaky tricks.snap out of it jesse,they hypnotized you!IT'S ALL A CONSPIRACY!

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Barack the Vote in RI

    Furthermore....I fail to see the problem with Obama pointing out the obvious. The truth sometimes hurts.

    Bill Cosby did the same thing.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Steven

    Sadly, Rev. Jackson seems to have been co-opted by Karl Rove and his minions. Nothing else could explain why he himself would engage in these smears against Obama.

    I want to ask CNN to monitor these boards. I have seen lots of attacks on Senator Obama, calling him a "flip flopper" and "inexperienced." This is veiled racism; one would never see a white candidate exposed to these kinds of comments. Stop with the double standards, people!

    OBAMA '08

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Obama4change

    FOX and CNN - pure slime messengers. Where is the story on the McCain remark on killing Iranians with cigarettes? You do not have any integrity. You should be re-named - FAUX NEWS2. Barack Obama is going to be our next president no matter how your slime messengers try to stop him - Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs, Campbell Brown, Glenn Beck and Anderson Cooper. Only like John Roberts. He is actually a journalist with some integrity. He has been the only one to ask John McCain any tough questions. Boycott CNN!!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Jim

    How does this have anything to do with Fox News except for the fact that it was their microphone? All this story shows is what all of America should already know about Jesse Jackson. I can't wait to hear the actual tape...Anyone who doesn't think this is a big deal for Jesse is kidding themselves. I think it should even help Obama, maybe he can show that he is above this kind of hate.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. California

    Ha – I love the way people think. Jackson says it and it's Fox News that has the problem. Go figure.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Steph

    Both Jesse Jackson and Obama are fighting hard for the title of "Biggest Moron". In every speech that Obama gives- he throws out nothing but fluff and flip-flop views. He dances around answering any questions with a solid response by incorporating large words weaved into complicated sentences- all to distract the audience from his true ignorance. Jackson oozes hatred- he fuels the fire of racists and takes every opportunity to shame his race every time he comes in contact with a microphone.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    much ado..we are hurting in our pockets

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. David Goldman



    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Chicago

    Who says it was Fox (other than Jackson) and why does the media not report what he said (instead of paraphrasing for him)???? Obama would help himself and lots of people by doing a little moralizing!

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. SeattleSheila

    Just makes Jesse Jackson look like he wants to deny the truth or make excuses for it. Nobody can deny the effects of history on the African American population, but there comes a time when people have to accept the past and decide NOW to make better choices for the future. The excuses don't solve anything. I think Mr. Obama is courageous to "tell it like it is" and ask men to stand up and choose to do right.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. outinforce

    Didn't CNN accurately report the comments made by George W. Bush during the 200 presidential campaign? Comments that were meant to be private?

    So why isn't CNN accurately quoting the verbatim comments made by the Rev. Jackson?

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. Mclean

    It's not a big issue. Obama is really trying to get through to the black community to to do better, more along the lines of what Dr. King wanted for them. Sharpton and Jackson are total opportunist. I don't see these men in the same league as Obama.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. Fox?

    How in the world is Fox responsible for what Jessie Jackson says?

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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