Video: Jackson apologizes to Obama

NBC News and news services
updated 7/10/2008 8:03:07 AM ET 2008-07-10T12:03:07

The Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized Wednesday for "regretfully crude" comments he made about Barack Obama's speeches in black churches, during what he thought was a private conversation.

Fox News broadcast Jackson’s remarks on "The O’Reilly Factor" Wednesday night. Jackson, speaking to Reid Tuckson, an executive vice president at United Health Group, as both men were about to be interviewed on "Fox & Friends" on Sunday, criticized Obama and said, "I wanna cut his n--- off."

"He's talking down to black people," Jackson told Tuckson.

Hours before Fox aired Jackson's comments, Jackson told CNN they were in response to a question from a Fox News reporter about speeches on morality by Obama. He said Obama’s speeches “can come off as speaking down to black people” and that there were other important issues to be addressed in the black community, such as unemployment, the mortgage crisis and the number of blacks in prison.

“And then I said something I thought regretfully crude but it was very private and very much a sound bite and a live mic,” Jackson told CNN. He said he was not aware the microphone was still on.

Jackson told The Associated Press he didn't remember “exactly” what he said but that he was “very sorry.”

“For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize,” Jackson said in a written statement. “My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal.”

Jackson said he called Obama’s campaign to apologize.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton noted that the Illinois senator grew up without his father and has spoken and written at length about the issues of parental responsibility and fathers participating in their children’s lives, and of society’s obligation to provide “jobs, justice and opportunity for all.

“He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology,” Burton said.

Jackson criticized by his son
Though Jackson is supporting Obama, the two are not close.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

Jackson even took heat from his own son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., for writing a column last year questioning the commitment of Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates to the needs of black voters. Jackson Jr. wrote a response in The Chicago Sun-Times with the headline, "You're wrong on Obama, Dad." Video: Analysis

He has also released his own statement regarding the elder Jackson's comments on Sunday.

"I'm deeply outraged and disappointed in Rev. Jackson's reckless statements about Sen. Barack Obama," said the younger Jackson.

His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee — and I believe the next president of the United States — contradict his inspiring and courageous career."

Jackson is the third Chicago pastor to create problems for Obama on the campaign trail.

In March, a videotape of Obama's longtime former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., created a political firestorm in the primaries. On the tape, Wright accused the U.S. government of creating AIDS and is seen shouting "God damn America" during a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

In May, Roman Catholic priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger mocked Obama's then Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton during a guest sermon at Obama's former church, from which Obama has since resigned. Pfleger, who is white, pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show."

The comments about Obama are not the first Jackson has had to explain after believing he was off the record.

In 1984, he called New York City "Hymietown," referring to the city's large Jewish population. He later acknowledged it was the wrong to use the term, but said he did so in private to a reporter.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments