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)

    I would be upset if he was not telling the Truth, but lets be honest. He is telling the Truth. If we are to turn things around, fathers need to take responsibility for there children. Jackson should just shut up, before he speak s out of turn again. Remember Bill Cosby said the same thing, and I agree with him also. Stand up and be Fathers, and Men to the children you help bring into the world.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Miles

    What did he say? Blitzer said it was so crude he couldn't play it on air.

    July 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Truth

    Fox news is fair and balanced, some of the talk shows are opinionated but so are the liberal talk shows on almost every other network. It is ok when a liberal gives there opinion, but "unprofessional" when a conservative does. Liberal are suppose to be open minded and accepting; yet they are contradicting their beliefs with radical hate towards conservatives.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. tom

    why does ANYONE pay any attention to what this hypocritical supposed reverend have to say about ANYTHING??? Him and Sharpton ought to get a room together and go into seclusion and spare all races of their existence. Both are certainly NOT a credit to their race.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. Marla

    The economy is sinking, we are losing two wars and a third war may be on the way, and our health care system is gasping.
    Who care about this tit-for-tat political stuff? Stop hiding behind non news, CNN. Step up and do real reporting.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. Chanda Cincinnati Ohio

    As an African american single mother owed $42, 000 in child support from her ex husband who does not praticipate in his children's lives, I applaud Obama for, as my kids say, keeping it real. The truth hurt sometimes. African Americans wanted to lynch Bill Cosby for calling our dirt on the carpet, and he was absolutely correct about everything he said. I heard people say you should not air your dirty laundry in public, but guess what...the public sees all our dirty drawers!!!! BRAVO SENATOR OBAMA!!!!! If Jesse had a problem with what Obama said, then as a Reverend, and a African American man, he should be ashamed! THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. elaine, atlanta


    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Linda

    Jesse Jackson is telling the truth. Barack is taking the Black vote for granted. He courts other races, but he criticizes black folks.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. McCain Supporter

    This just shows what Jesse Jackson is really like. Thanks to him and Al Sharpton, racism continues to plague our society.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. TONY

    What a circus clown. When Obama wins, perhaps their ludicrous, constant whining and complaining will finally be silenced for good.

    No more of the Rev.'s, Jackson, Sharpton, Wright, etc. able to moan and blame the white man for everything. Hopefully no more marches, protests, sit-ins, etc. No longer will their weak excuses hold up. They will, at last, be exposed for the circus freaks they are.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. pa

    rev. jackson....the truth hurts. tired of the excuses. obama is only asking people to take responsiblity for thenselves and stop blaming everyone and everthing but themselves. take responsibility for you r actions.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. chhabili

    When Barack chastises African Americans, he is using the Sister Souljah tactic of Bill Clinton. Wonder when he will chastise the religious right when it comes to bigotry against gays and lesbians and people of other faiths. If Barack wishes to run as a President free from color bias, then he should put his money where his mouth is and chastise all bigotry from people of all races and ethnicities

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. John

    Ol Jesse puts his foot in his mouth yet again. Why is this news, aren't we used to it by now? Big tent and all that?

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Bagbane

    If Jesse isn't going to preach morality and responsibility somebody has to.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Michael Smith

    Not a Jesse fan. He seems to make a living out of starting fires then putting them out.

    July 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Steven

    Jesse Jackson has zero morality so he is not one to criticise Obama for reminding the black community of its responsiblities to their neighborhoods and their children.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Sean

    What....Jesse Jackson is the only one allowed to "lecture the black community on morality"? I guess Jackson would have good insights into morality what with the baby he fathered while he was having an affair a few years back...

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Arlington

    How is Fox the lowest of the low? They didn't put words in Jackson's mouth. It's about time the Reverend gets a taste of his own medicine – by twisting the words of others.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. Poor Journalism

    FOX News did this, big surprise there???? Taking someone’s comments out of context is nothing but poor journalism. And I guess that is what this network wants to be known for. I think they want the black community to not support Obama and they thought this was their gold mind. Well instead they look like idiots.

    First they refer to Michelle Obama as Barack’s "baby mama", then it was the "terrorist fist bump" and now they try and portray Jesse Jackson a staple in the black community being against Obama.

    If they don’t start reporting on the issues then I am going to start thinking they have a problem with a black president. Just the other day I was watching them and a lady was talking about Obama. In her reference to him she made sure to emphasize his middle name Hussein. That network is the lowest on the totem pole when it comes to journalism and if it wasn’t known before its out in the open now.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Lewis

    This could actually help Obama. I mean, if Jackson's cheesed at him, he can't be all bad, right?

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. CE, Wisconsin, USA

    you show up on FOX you take your chances.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Weina

    Barack shouldn't be lecturing the black community. Just because he went to harvard doesn't mean he is better. That said, Obama is the best candidate. Sorry but I don't want eight more years of Bush policies so not going to vote for McBush not in a million years. Go Obama, but stop lecturing people.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Alexis

    Why are you blaming Fox? They did not make the comments. The Reverend Jackson made the comments and he is the one who gave the interview.

    I am not a fan of Fox in particular nor the media in general, however I think in this case the blame in misplaced.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Mike

    So, according to Rev. Jesse, it's ultimately government's fault that some black males commit crimes and have kids out of wedlock. I'll hazard a guess that, in his opinion, white people who do the same have only themselves to blame....

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. deedee

    i get tired of everyone apologizing. People mean what they say and Jesse was making his comments for a reason. Why apologize for how you truly feel and why apologize for what may be a statement of personal belief just because the public overheard it? all this apologizing is driving me crazy.

    July 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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