April 28th, 2008
04:40 PM ET

The rolling Wright controversy: shine a light or blot one out?

 [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/28/art.wright.jpg%5D


Barclay Palmer
360° Senior Producer

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright spoke again today, this time at the National Press Club. He said recent criticism of him has really been an attack on the black church. He didn’t specify which.

Wright said the theology of the black church is a “theology of liberation; it is a theology of transformation and it is ultimately a theology of reconciliation.”

Despite its long history, he said the black religious tradition is in ways, “invisible to the dominant culture.”

“Being different does not mean one is deficient. It simply means one is different, like snowflakes,” Wright said, echoing comments he made last night to nearly 10,000 at an NAACP dinner in Detroit. Reconciliation means “we embrace our individual, rich histories.”

Thoughtful comments, certainly, despite the flurry over his relationship with Barack Obama.

But they do raise a question or three.

Why, after months of remaining silent, is Rev. Wright speaking like this now, just as Senator Obama has been trying to put the issue of his relationship with Rev. Wright behind him?

What are Rev. Wright’s feelings about Obama and his campaign for the presidency if he’s speaking this way at this moment, while Obama struggles to reach working class voters in upcoming primary states and, by the way, to maintain the appearance of inevitability he had wrested from Hillary Clinton? Remember that Obama recently, gently, distanced himself from Wright.

And, perhaps more important, where will this go?

Will Wright continue to distract Obama’s campaign, even as the reverend raises important issues? Will he inspire Americans to think through his ideas?

Or will his ideas, Obama’s, Clinton’s and John McCain’s all be obscured by the theater of controversy?


soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Pip

    Rev. Wright may have been a man of God yesterday ....but today he is just another entertainer... Good Lord I wonder what he'll say next....?

    Sen. Obama just destroyed all the tv's in his house.....

    April 29, 2008 at 9:46 am |
  2. meesha

    I've had enough of this rev Wright issue. He is in no way part of Obama's campaign. Will his comments help with the real issues we are facing i.e jobs, gas prices,war,environment etc. Please let's get serious about issues that is affecting us. I want to hear more about Sen Obabma and Clinton's policies for our country.
    Let's grow up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 9:46 am |
  3. Pip

    Rev. Wright is an opportunist. He is a friend of himself and no other. He has now become a convenient man of God. I have no doubt that if this doesn't work out for him ( his 15 min of fame turned career ) we will be seeing him on a cable station preaching the word of God for donations ...oh and as he said his book is coming out ...

    And as for the media ... I agree they usually help make the news ...then report the news ... In this case the subject loves the attention.

    April 29, 2008 at 9:41 am |
  4. James

    The Fact that Obama sat in this mans church for twenty years does reflect on Obama. You may agree with the Pastor on some points but the fact remains that he is way out of the mainstream. Also it is clear to anyone with an open mind,that Obama lied in earlier statements that he did not know about this side of the pastor. Those of you who are defending the pastor should respond to his statement that Obama is just a politician "doing what politicians do". Obama is a very bright wellspoken man with a great future in politics.But he is not the second coming of Jesus or John Kennedy that he is touted to be.

    April 29, 2008 at 9:39 am |
  5. Susan Smickle

    I would like to know who set this whole circus up? Can anyone tell me why now, well I can, seven days before NC and Ind, This is the kitchen sink in tack. I am ashamed of tdhe news channels, but they are also paided off as well. Did anyone notice when his pastor was asked about Bill Clinton, his words were, I'm not here to discuss him. WHY NOT, BECAUSE 109 mil I think people should wake up.

    April 29, 2008 at 9:34 am |
  6. Jennifer

    With all the mass media over Wright, I thought his talks were racist and damaging until I watched the complete coverage of his speech in D.C. yesterday. I am Asian and do not believe in any religion, but I do agree with Wright 100%. What Wright said was the facts and truth. If while males can not take it, then this country still has a long way to go.

    There is race issue in America. You can try to sweep the garbage under the bed and pretend the room is clean, but the garbage is still there. By distancing himself from Wright, Obama just shows how an opportunist he really is. I am a Clinton supporter but if Obama has the courage to agree with Wright, I will consider voting for him.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:11 am |
  7. michael dickman

    Anderson, just because you shared a plane ride with Obama; you have been biased towards Hillary Clinton and that remark about Bill Clinton "eruption of bimbos" is nothing compared to your black boy's demeanor of looking down on people; be careful Anderson for your true colors are showing! Shalom!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 7:38 am |
  8. John S

    I find it troubling that the Rev has used such words so freely. To damn anything or anyone isnt Christian. To attack a race en masse is bigotry unrefined and undefined. This can be a harsh world, hateful, mean and disturbing. After hearing the Reverand speak, I find myself disturbed by his words, his attitude and his hate. This "were gonna get em now" attitude is wrong. Ones weaknesses arent to be exploited by Christians, but were supposed to lift our brothers up. Theres no defense nor excuse for his words. Listening to his "defense" I find it bigoted, meanspirited, but most of all proud. Until both Barrack Obama and the Reverand Wright take off their cloaks of pride, theyll be construed as being one. Until Barrack condemns this, and shows regret from this, his position will suffer.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:46 am |
  9. F. Huffman

    I am a black male 61 years of age. I have many acquaintences whom are white skinned. We laugh, talk and/or do business together. Unfortunately the subject of race relations rarely comes up and when it does, it is sort of "glossed over".
    I also have some white friends aho would take a bullet for me, and I them, but we see issues related to race very differently. If I were a white man I to would probabley resent what Rev Wright has uttered.
    The fact of the matter is that we humans base our opinions upon our life's experiences and/or what wwe have been exposed to. While a very small number of blacks whom are native to America have been "shielded" from the racial ills that the vast majority of blacks are exposed on a dailey basis, my white brothers and sisters (I say that sincerely) cannot begin to relate to the plight of today's new face of racial oppression via court rulings that favor police killings such as the recent verdict handed down for the three police detectives who fired 50 bullets at an unarmed in New York City's "Queens" community. That's not law enforcement, that's hatred, abuse of power and just plain evil. For those of us who may feel that this was just an isolated esample, sorry but this is common place for peolpe of color.
    Because wew "assume" that our law enforcement personal will do the right thing, it is very hard for the domintae culture to phathom the likelyhood that the very poeple whom we entrust to uphold the law would do such a thing, we tend to believe thier stories as opposed that of the victim (police prefer to call these victims "criminals" so as to justify thier conduct).
    These kind of issues tend to give credibilty to Rev. Wright's position. If you disagree, then let's begin a national dialouge from the grass roots level, community by community wherein we the people, not our elected officials, begin the process of taking control of our police, prosecutors and judges to the extent of where we hold the ultimate power of thier fate for misconduct. This is the first step toward racial harmony.
    Having said these things, it is my belief that 51% of our police, prosecutors and judges are doing thier jobs honorably and I believe that most (97%) of black Americans will agree. However the other 49% are doing whatever they Damm well please up to and including murder.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:42 am |
  10. Bruce from alaska

    I still like Obama even after this bolongna with rev. wright. Obama still is the best HOPE for America in my opinion. There might be a chance that people who are different from each other either by race, religion, or whatever, will start a dialog and see the things that we all have in common. We know what we'll get with Mccain. The Clintons again??
    I think Obama is what America needs now in the present.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:12 am |
  11. Michelle

    To the skeptics who insisted that they could not change unless the world changes first, Mohandas Gandhi replied, "No, the world will not change if we don't change....you must be the change you wish to see in the world".

    I agree with David Gergen that this is an opportunity for Obama to show what kind of a leader his is. Obama must respond in some way to Rev, Wright's challenge. Is Obama the change he wishes to see? Yes, it is a VERY complex situation. However, as Obama stated in his book "The Audacity of Hope"

    "...the second theme of this book is to tell how I, as a politician, try to "avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments."

    Just as Gandhi dealt psychologically with his fame, and the adoration of his millions of followers, by living an increasingly simple life, so must all people in the public eye find ways to retain their equilibrium and keep their wits about them. We are all flawed and the pressures of sudden fame can break us at the points where we are flawed. But once broken we can be made whole again. Perhaps those who are strongest have gone through some refining fire.

    I hope these next few weeks will be a refining fire for Obama and he will see that what we sometimes think is a curse can be a blessing.

    April 29, 2008 at 3:42 am |
  12. Marie

    Does the media not know that they are inadvertently making Rev Wright a self proclaimed MILLIONAIRE and he doesn't have to work hard at it. I see book deals, movie deals, documentaries, etc being offered. And to think that the media was a little wiser. They've just help contributed to the cause. What other reason would this deranged man peep from the nowhere? He figured the primary was ending soon so, I'd better take advantage of the opportunity while he was still a hot commodity. Thanks MEDIA. I've been playing the lottery and working hard for years. The media has blessed Rev Wright in more ways than they even know. Now he can move out of the mansion he already has, into a huger one!!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 3:31 am |
  13. Scott Karnes

    I'm a 48 year old white male. Wright is smart, Brilliant! My Dad is 80 and tagged him smart, and an Elmer Gantry. I thought he was great! A very real human shaped by his experience in life, you can parse that as you want. Barack scares me what he might do to the Economy, FDR on Steroids! But I would very much like to attend services at Wright's church. The Media gets a big fail on this one, they got it wrong! Unfortunately I fear Wright has wounded O Bama for this election cycle, but the media has been the vehicle to failure here. Wright did't have to do this politically speaking though...

    April 29, 2008 at 3:30 am |
  14. ivor jackson

    what in hell happened to freedom of speech? Is anybody even listening to Dr. Wright in this. I can not hear this unpatriotic anti-american that so many commentators are reporting. I hear a brilliant and passionate American who shares far more of my opinions about where change is needed, than McCain or Clinton
    How can anybody get upset when Dr. Wright uses simple rhetorical devices like the "G.D. an America that..." Is America a great and democratic nation, or a thought-controlling cult? Dr. Wright is a great American. My biggest disappointment is in Mr. Obama for casting off his friend so quickly, but I still support Obama,because he beats all the alternatives.
    Like others here, I would like to see the Wright appearances rebroadcast in their entirety. He is a great orator. I don't want to see 5 second clips followed by 5-minute analyses by the "best political team". I can decide by myself what his message is.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:59 am |
  15. Tracy

    I was glad to hear Rev. Wright in his own words instead of the soundbytes... which I knew were out of context because I have spent many years attending predominately black churches and I knew that there was more to those sound bytes. It really does feel like there is an attack on the black church (whether intended or not) I understand completely the message of Rev. Wright's sermons – and would never have taken them as literally as anti-american or hateful. In many black churches there is a comfort level with being open and honest about our faults and it is so hard to explain to someone who is not used to the culture. It is like saying to my sister "the lord don't like ugly" when she is doing something that may be against biblical teachings.... my sister understands what I mean, but if someone took those soundbytes and played them over and over it would seem like I was calling my sister ugly. Also in my house we showed affection by kicking (lightly) each other in the butt.... if someone showed such a video over and over and labelled my family (like unpatriotic, crazy, etc) – it would feel like an attack because they just didn't understand how we showed affection in our house. Which is what Rev. Wright is saying about an attack on many black churches. I feel like shouting at the media that they do not understand and I wish they would ask more questions instead of jumping to the labels.

    Also, when Rev. Wright said 'that he would come after Obama when he is in the white house' – I totally understood that from a perspective that was not attacking. In many black communities those words mean 'you give it all you've got' and keep fighting because you are inspiring many more people and of course we will hold you accountable. the words are like the playful teasing in a card game of spades where you say to another team that seems like they are about to win the game 'yeah I hope you win so my team can beat you'. The words were playful and I could see it in Rev. Wright's body language.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:54 am |
  16. Tivoli Eclipse

    Reverend Jeremiah Wright = Judas.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:36 am |
  17. Maria Kirchner

    Mr. Cooper
    I just listened to you on TV-It is time for you to tell the whole truth concerning these blogs and emails. Rev. Wright sounds like a great spirtual leader and the attacks on him and Obama are ridiculous!!!
    You and everyone else keep attacking two great men-STOP IT!!!
    What about the out and out lies of Hilary. To me her lies were way WORSE than Rev. Wright. Have you ever been in a black church-It is very different. I love going to a black church because they are openly very excited about God. I would much rather have a man that is very passionate about his beliefs become president than a liar who has a husband that can't control his mouth or anything else for that matter.
    Leave this GREAT man alone!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:31 am |
  18. Kemet Cooper

    It is interesting that comments are made that "Rev. Wright will not go away". He stayed out of sight for about a month; nevertheless, people such as Hannity and Combs and the media continued to speak negatively about him. The media kept his name in the spotlight. So when he comes out to speak in regards to the comments, now all of sudden the comment is Oh he will not go away. Is white America trying to silence this man because he speaks truthfully? Why are people such as Anderson Cooper constantly requiring that Obama distance himself from Rev. Wright. This is foolishness. What about the rising gas prices?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:29 am |
  19. Rosemary

    Why does CNN continue to talk about Reverend Wright? It does not matter what Barak Obama say. No man has a right to take a part a man of God sermon, but the man of God that gave the message. Obama does not have to keep saying anything about Reverend Wright God be the judge. If this media covering is not to help Mccain and Clinton why are you doing it? I think it is very unfair for a totally white news media to continue to talk about Reverend Wright without mentioning what he has done. Why should he not speak everyone else no matter what has come out and spoken to the media. It is also clear you all are religious not christians. No Americans that is a member of his or her church will leave because no one agrees with everything his or her preachers says. All day long nothing but white news men why doesn't Cnn gives some black new commentators if you really want to know about black Americans. The world is watching
    are we really a democracy are maybe there is some truth in what Reverend Wright say. Why doesn't Cnn talk to Clinton's pastor and John Mccain's.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:28 am |
  20. Mandie

    Rev. Wright will be the same man today and tomorrow, if Sen. Obama wins or not. He was speaking the same issues then as he is now. The only reason why it matters is because of his affiliation with Sen. Obama. This media coverage would not have happen if he was just a regular old pastor. The media needs to focus on Sen. Obama and what he stands for. The media is making this a racial issue not Rev. Wright, not Sen. Obama. If you take something and play it over and over again, just hoping someone will get something negative from it then they will. Focus on the facts!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:26 am |
  21. Oliver Warren Wells Sr.

    The re-framing of Dr. Jeremiah Wright's comments by Anderson Cooper 360 as a whole is irresponsible journalism. Mainstream media has delivered a fury towards Rev. Wright because he challenged their credibility during the Press Club presentation. You've relegated your coverage to targeted sound bytes causing his presentation to seem divisive and easy to be dismissed.
    Roland, though his tone is stinging, there is more truth in his comments than the American public is willing to embrace. Our efforts would be far better spent taking an honest, impartial view of his statements, rather than joining the "Wright is Wrong" bandwagon. The role of the African-American preacher / prophet has always been to challenge the status quo. Anderson, he is not performing. Though politically, his timing may seem ill-advised, his statements are at least thought-provoking and at most, filled with truth. If America is to have lasting greatness, we must be able to look at ourselves through a lens of truth. Dr. Wright brings this lens to the forefront. This dialogue will be helpful in the long run. It's like castor-oil. You hate to taste it, but it will help you.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:15 am |
  22. Karen/NJ

    Wright makes it look like all Black people are angry, anti-white and caught up in the days of slavery. WE ARE NOT!

    And there is no 'Black Church" in America! There is Trinity Church and thousands others throughout the 50 states. Not all of them preach Liberation Theology, and not all Liberation Theologists sound as extreme as Reverend Wright. It is one thing to support Rev. Wright, and quite another thing for us to complain about being stereotyped and then let Rev. Wright perpetuate an unflattering stereotype of us as a race. As a Black person, I STRONGLY OBJECT to being defined by Rev. Wright. He is entitled to his views, and his supporters are entitled to defend him. But not at the expense of how I, as a Black person, am perceived by the rest of the world!

    By the same token, I don't think he has the right to define Senator Obama. Or to systematically set out to undermine his electability. I can only describe Wright's actions today as an act of overt terrorism on the Obama Campaign. The Bible says "thou shalt not kill" and Wright may just have killed Obama's chances for election. I am speaking Truth to Power – what do you have to say about that, Rev. Wright?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:58 am |
  23. Siandra

    I believe if enough white people went to black churches they would understand the black church better. You don't have read the bible to know that god does not agree with the sins of the world or this country. Instead of judging Jeremiah Wright you should go into the communities and see how many black people agree with what he says. I wish the news would stop showing African American people and white people who are out of touch with the black communities any questions on what goes on in the black church or black communities. People need to go to the neighborhoods and find out exactly what people feel. Thats to much like right and we are not that important to really learn about. Instead people will sit behind their desk or their computers and blog about what they don't understand or care to understand. Many African Americans will not vote for Hillary if Obama does not win, but that does not matter our vote never matters. You always hear about Barack having to get white voters. That alone should tell you about this country and the racism the news portray as well as American Citizens.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 am |
  24. Gayle

    I'm so saddened by the news today. I know that as a country we can never do enough for the African American people to ever be forgiven for slavery, I mean really there's nothing that will ever take that pain away. The private hatred will continue even if it is behind closed doors. The things I do know is, that this week I may have to decide to buy food or gas and can't go to the doctor when I'm sick. The issues that face us as a nation black, white, tan, brown are so important, we can't be distracted by anything right now pleaseeeee.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:47 am |
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