July 10th, 2008
10:22 AM ET

Jesse Jackson explains himself...

The Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized Wednesday for "crude and hurtful" remarks he made about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama after an interview with a Fox News correspondent.

The remarks came Sunday as Jackson was talking to a fellow interviewee, UnitedHealth Group executive Dr. Reed V. Tuckson. An open microphone picked up Jackson whispering, "See, Barack's been talking down to black people ... I want to cut his nuts off."

This morning Rev. Jackson explained his comments:

AC360° talked with David Gergen, The Reverend Al Sharpton, and Amy Holmes to dig deeper on the story:


soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Dorian Evans

    Rev. Jesse Jackson is and has been a champion of causes for those who cannot and could not advocate for themselves. He is a man. He is a politician. Rev. Jackson is a man who got caught trash talking and conveying how he is disappointed with a position or particular view Senator Obama has been expressing or supports. So for all the bloggers and trashtalkers who wish to exile Rev. Jackson to “we don’t need u anymore land”, because he challenged the “golden one”, I say be very careful.

    As opposed to accepting everything our politicians do, perhaps if more people expressed their content with policies and views our politicians support- that they may disagree with- citizens may actually enact their right to participate in the political process.

    As conversation and trash talk in salons, stores and elewhere gears up and switches from Rev. Jeremiah Wright to Rev. Jesse Jackson, I challenge “black folks” to carefully evaluate the whole picture. First, we must recognize that challenging Senator Obama’s positions does not mean blasphemy nor does it emit envy. It does mean however, keeping him on course. Secondly, continuing to support and respect the “old gaurd” is not counter indicative to change. I beg my people(s)to stop putting all their eggs in one basket, while discarding the old eggs. The disrepect shown to the Clintons, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and others by black radio talk show hosts, in particular, was outlandish. Finally, stop waiting on the master to deliver you to the promised land. Become actively involved in local politics and hold all these POLITICIANS accountable.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  2. Susan

    I am so tired of 'famous' people saying things they should not even be thinking and then 2.35 seconds later getting on their high horses and apologizing and saying they didn't mean it! Give me a freakin' break! The only reason they apologize is because they were 'overheard' by someone. That type of apology is meaningless.
    Obama has way more class than Jackson will ever have. Jackson is a person who NEEDS to be controversial otherwise people will just forget him. And to me, that sounds like something I would love to do!

    Oh I'm sorry.........who were we talking about again? 🙂

    July 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  3. Juju in Philly


    Perhaps Mr. Jackson is upset at Obama because he felt guilty for having a children outside his marriage. I know he has to be taking care of that child, or perhaps he is still angry at his past. We all have fallen short some where in life. My father lived with us, but he gambled every penny away, we had to use the pennies we could find in the house to eat. He should not be upset at Mr. Obama for wHAT he said. Mr Jackson thought he would move into Martin's steps, but American's did not embrace him. So Mr jackson lets do what we all do best, you are great at Opeartion PUSh, Obama will be great as a role model and a president. Mr Obama has the passion needed to change the thinking of men and women. My mother always told me a monkey could have a baby, that does not make them a necessary role model for the child. I'll let that line speak for itself. Shame shame on you Mr. Jackson. . Mr. Jackson has done alot for people in the community, but don't let your good be evil spoken of.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  4. arleen b. scott

    Rev. Jackson is the prime example of one of the myths of Blacks, when one of us is on the way up, then we as Blacks pull each other down, Rev. Jackson is RAGED with jealously. He's just a part of the
    "quote crabs in a bucket "

    July 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  5. Maria

    If Jesse Jackson considers himself a man of God, then why would he even have said that about anyone let alone a man he calls his friend.
    And hats off to JesseJackson Jr for speaking out against his father. does Jesse Jackson actually think that just because of who he thinks he is that an apology will take care of it. He needs to just keep his mouth shut all the time everyone would be better off. Now Obama knows just what kind of friend he really is.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  6. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Jackson, Sharpton, Rev Wright, Obama can have them all over for a chicken dinner and watermelon, and smooth everything out when he gets to the whitehouse.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Adrean

    I just watched the interview with Jesse Jackson and Don. I am so thankful to CNN and Don for the dignity displayed in the interview. EVERYONE at some time or at some point in their lives have said things they regret. I applaud CNN in how the interview was conducted and that the questions were not demeaning and hateful and mean spirited as to criticize a GREAT civil rights leader. Although we have to focus on our future we can't forget the past. Rev. Jackson has been a POWERFUL voice for the African American community and a tireless advocate for all human rights issues. Have any of the critics been jailed for speaking out against the wrongs of government? Have any of you subjected yourselves to public scrutiny because you spoke up against injustices? It's easy to sit on your couch and judge. Get up -get out and make a difference as Rev. Jackson has done all his life.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  8. Larry

    July 10,2008.Jesse Jackson interviewed by Don Lemon.. Jesse wants Obama to be the black president of the USA,not the president of the whole United States. Obama is a uniter,Jackson is a divider.Obama is doing a great job now and would be better off not listening to Jackson.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  9. GAIL Centre,Al;

    I don't think anybody cares what Jesse Jackson says, but I believe Obama is an elitest, and does talk down to blacks. they need to come to their senses, and see Obama for what he really is. they think they've got a prize candidate, they have a really big [SURPRIZE].

    July 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  10. Kenny

    I grew up in the King/Jackson era and I find the comments of Rev. Jackson to be appalling and his apology to be unacceptable. Rev. Jackson is talking about race related issues while Senator Obama is talking American issues. Having said that and after listening to
    Rev Jackson when he is asked about his comment, I hear him go off into his race related issues and it appears to be an attempt to avoid the fact that what he should be saying is that he screwed up and found himself doing the very thing we preach to our kids not to do. My respect for the man is minimal now to say the least.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  11. Betty Smith

    Unfortunately, Obama is telling like it is......poor Jesse, if the black community finally gets their act together, Jesse will not have anything to do...nothing to gripe about...I am sick of having to listen to him...who cares what he thinks or says. All Jesse does, is run around the country causing problems. And do we care what the relationship between Obama and Jesse happens to be?????????NOT

    July 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
  12. mike

    I never thought Jesse Jackson was relevant; rather a poor imitation of the great Martin Luther King.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  13. JK

    Not surprising. As socialite Jan Grabowski famously proclaimed:, "Yes, my dears, God gave us each a brain...but we don't always remember to use it"

    July 10, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  14. Jackson Lee

    This statement by Jesse will be brushed aside; but what if Don Imus had said this.............national news..............hummm......

    July 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Sandra

    Why is it that, when people make honest comments they must apologize? Jesse Jackson was having a private conversation, that is how he was feeling at that moment. This apology is about the politics. This is why I feel politics isn't going to change. This apology is hypocrisy. If Barack Obama was truly going to make a change in the political arena, he would have given a message to Jesse Jackson, that no apology was needed, that he understood that Jesse Jackson had the right to feel however he felt at the moment and that he respected that. Maybe he could also find out what was bothering Jesse Jackson and cleared it up. Politics as we know it will remain statis quo.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  16. mark hoffman

    Of course J J is jealous. The election is basically Obama's to lose and the same hardcore sense of entitlement that Hillary felt to be the first female prez unfortunately infects a lot of the old time Black Civil Rights leaders when it comes to being the first Black prez. Obama really is a party pooper in their eyes. Hey Jesse and Hillary-get over yourselves. Your time has passed.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  17. Paanai

    Senator Obama is following his own political ideals in this race, not those of Jesse Jackson. That he is not singing "the inner city blues" doesn't mean that he's not addressing Black American issues - he's just focused on the larger scope of AMERICAN issues. Rev. Jackson needs to know that his views are not the only ones that reflect the concerns of Black people in this country. He is not the 'spokesperson' for all the Black people in this country, and it's about time he accepted that. He's just angry that Senator Obama is not emulating him and focusing solely on the issues of deprivation.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  18. Steve

    It seems that Jesse has a public message and a very non-public message. While I am sure many public figures say what helps their cause to the masses and under their breath they make different and/or disparaging comments, I believe it undermines the overall cause. These type actions cause JJ to be non relevant.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  19. Jasmine

    Jesse Jackson is full of himself and I believe that he is jealous of Barack Obama because he sees that another African American won the primary for president which is something he could not accomplish himself. His apology is meaningless because if he weren't caught on camera making his comments he would not have apologized. He gives this weak pitiful apology that no one should accept nor believe.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  20. Justina

    Senator Obama has not distanced himself from any group from what i have seen. How could he? the man is biracial, can he talk down to blacks risking hurting his father and fathers family, likewise risking hurting his white mother and my God his so much beloved grandparents.He has stood up for all despite their race and i think this is rare, i have never seen one person handle the races as Senator Obama has. If any i believe the United Stated should take a page and hold this man with the highest regards. He will faulter some time we are all human, but he is good.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  21. Melissa, Los Angeles

    It's ironic when Dog the Bounty Hunter was recorded saying the "N" word in a private conversation – Jackson and Sharpton were all over him for saying it. Now the shoe is on Jackson's foot for speaking in what he thought was a private conversation. We'll forgive you just as much as you forgave Dog.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  22. Brenda Neely

    I find Rev. Jackson's comment about Sen. Obama disgusting and repulsive. Has he forgotten this very act was performed on many of our black men as they were left hanging in trees to die? Perhaps some of them in Rev Jackson's lifetime. What was he thinking? Someone needs to stick a fork in him, he's done.

    July 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  23. Kit Blumenstein

    Much ado about very little. Jesse Jackson has always been out spoken and sometimes too free with his opinions. He said something untoward about Obama, both he and Obama will get over it, as will we all.

    You guys must be having a very slow news day to make so much of this very little story. If not for the in-roads made by Jesse Jackson and others, Obama would probably not be the candidate this election year. Now can we all move on to more interesting and important news.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  24. Mark Allen

    Jesse seems to be more about promoting Jesse than anything else. He slurred New York as "Hymie Town", never distanced himself from Farakkan, Correta Scott King wasn't much of a Jesse fan, and neither am I.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  25. lynette runyon

    first of all, i am a true obama fan. i think reverand jackson is very much out of line in his comment about regarding senator obama. any respect i have had for reverand jackson has gone down the toilot. i'm sure reverand jackson will want to be there for the celebration when senator obama is voted in our next president.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  26. Willoughby

    So much for a reverend! he is supposed to somehow represent Jesus, right ? don't know where he went to school. He has never been relevant and never impressed me as a anything.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  27. Celie

    I am an African-American woman and I am appalled that REVEREND Jesse Jackson would even make a comment such as this, wanting to cut another man's private parts...What has this world come to, how can you profess to be a man of God and you have hatred and anger towards your own people. My Grandmother taught us that this is called the "Crabs in a Barrel" syndrome. If we as African-Americans cannot stick together, how do we expect other races and nationalities to respect us and accept our culture and give us the credit that we deserve. Personally, I feel that people of other cultures need to realize that Rev. Jackson is the "Village Idiot" and does not represent the Black Community, one monkey don't stop no show!

    July 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  28. Desiree

    Well it's very disappointing to see how grown, "professional," ..., men behave, in this case Rev. Jackson. What is also sad is the type of example that is being set for our socities, for our youths! I am aware that we are ALL human, and we ALL make mistakes, but Jackson's comments were NOT a mistake... he is obviously use to expressing himself this way, and at this point lost track that cameras around could be recording him... and he got caught!!!
    I could only imagine what Jackson (and many other famous people) say behind closed doors about Obama, McCain, and many others... it's obvious that he has always been a hypocrite.
    Yet, I continue to ponder- if another person who is of a different racial/ethnic background said what Jackson said... would that person be treated worse, same or better than the treatment that Jackson is recieving?

    July 10, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  29. Franco = Vienna, Austria

    Well Jesse you have done it AGAIN. The more you talk the less people listen. SOUR GRAPES is what most people will interpret your nasty comment as.
    Barack Obama has more style, sense and intelligence in his little finger than you have ever had. Sit down, shut up and swallow the fact that you are no longer relevant and that your ranting and raving is not what most Black and White Americans want to hear from anyone especially you. Ride RAPIDLY into the sunset and disappear forever. By the way, your so-called apology was not at all sincere and I did not buy it for one second and I am very sure others feel the same way.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm |
  30. Tami

    To me, the point is not that he made the remarks (even though the fact that he said he wants to cut off Obama's nuts is not Christ-like in anyway – way to be a solid Christian example AGAIN!). The frustrating thing is that he blames the microphone and his apology was back-handed. I aplogize for what I said even though I said it thinking it was not overheard....how hypocritical is that? He needs to reitre his "Reverend" title for good.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  31. Catina

    I'm so tired of these so called black leaders making these stupid statements and then saying they are speaking on behalf of us (the black community). Jesse Jackson nor Al Sharpton speaks on my behalf because they are just as racist as the people they sometimes speak up against. When will we as a people learn to support, love, and respect one another and others. I can truly say and I know some people will be offended by this but I don't care there are some days I want to just crawl under and a rock because of the things some of us say and do. I believe Obama will make a great president not just because he's black but because he's what this country needs. He's young, energetic, and has some fresh views and ideas. He's not perfect and I don't expect him to be and no one should have that expectation of him. I applaud him for addressing black fathers in this country because they need to be addressed. Like so many others I grew up without my father and like my mother today I'm the head of my household. Obviously the million man march didn't open their eyes maybe Obama will!

    July 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm |
  32. Rowena

    Unfortunately, Jesse Jackson got stung by an open mic. Did he mean what he said? PROBABLY. Is he envious of Barack Obama? Possibly. Nevertheless, Jackson is not knew to the political game and should have known to keep his personal comments to himself or at the very least speak openly in the privacy of his own home. His apology is meaningless and just another in a long line of moronic comments made to undermine Senator Obama's successful campaign.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm |
  33. Linda Johnson

    It must be so painful for Jesse Jackson to realize that once blacks are judged on "the content of their character" instead of the color of their skin, he will lose power, money and status.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  34. case

    Jackson is a loser. He is an opportunist at their worst. I remember when he came to a school in my town to argue that kids guilty of mob action should jump to the head of the alternative school line. He had no idea what the facts were.

    At least with Oprah and Obama Black Americans have real role models not just opportunists. Jackson is the one that talks down to everybody always sticking his nose where it does not belong. Speaking as if he has some type of moral authority, I do not despise many but I despise him. What a crude remark.

    Independent for Obama.

    July 10, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  35. DJ Davis

    This was just God teaching Rev Jackson to be careful about his thoughts.

    I am glad President-to-be Obama is standing up and saying he wants the Black community to pull itself together, and Black Americans finally have a leader who can talk the tough talks (i.e., reminding black men it takes a man to raise the children they create) and be someone they can look up to the way Dr King was looked up to. Not everything Dr King did was met with open arms either from the Black community, but without his leadership and guidance we would still be back in the "dark and trouble times of America."

    Rev Jackson needs to do some soul searching regarding his real reason for such a stupid remark.

    July 10, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  36. Mai Zandi

    The issue with this is:-

    – The words came out of the mouth of a REVEREND
    – The choice of words

    Jesse Jackson appears now to be envious to the point of rage of Obama's position having failed to reach this stage himself

    I don't think Obama was talking in a bad way, he was saying something that needs to be said. I don't think black people are living to their potential either as a fellow black person.

    July 10, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  37. Tyrone

    The question of Jesse Jackson trying to stay relevant is evident in the responses to this article. Nobody cares! Jesse, go sit down. You do not represent my black community and you never have. White people, do not throw the black community into one group. Just as you can have many different people representing different views, so can we. You choose who you want and if there is no one who you like then so be it. Everytime Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton talk, people think, "Oh so that's how the black community feels". No way. We are individuals with our own unique perspectives. Hopefully, Jesse Jackson will go away now and just STOP TALKING!

    July 10, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  38. Yalu Ajamu

    Rev. Jackson's comments that Sen. Obama has been talking down to Blacks in order to appeal to swing white and hispanic voters appears to be well taken and true; however, his suggestion that Sen Obama should be castrated is inappropriate. The overwhelming majority of Black Americans will vote for Sen Obama as the Democratic candidate for president regardless of whether he talks down to Blacks. It is obvious that Sen Obama's political strategy is one of a bi-racial African-American candidate who is physically black but is running as a white person so as to attract sufficient white votes to be elected president in a country where the black voting population is at best 15% to 20 %. Like other Democratic presidential candidates since President Roosevelt, he takes for granted politically that he will recieve approximately 85% to 92% of the black vote nationwide in the general election without having to formally campaign and expend money and time on their issues or concerns. The two crucial political issues are: Whether Sen Obama should expend precious time and money talking about and talking "up" black issues and concerns if he will get their votes regardless and may lose swing white and hispanic votes in the process? Whether blacks will vote for the Republican if they are unsatisfied with the democrat? I think he should talk about black issues but if he does he might alienate the swing white and hispanic voting block in the United States which could cause him losing the prize he seeks at any cost.

    July 10, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  39. Susan

    Jackson's an idiot – who cares what he says or doesn't say for that matter.

    July 10, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  40. Donna Cephus

    What happened "REV" Jackson to KEEP HOPE ALIVE. Your apology is not accepted to me and to Senator Obama I am sure he will accept your apology. My parents use to say; we (our race) are our own enemies. This confirms that.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:51 am |
  41. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    I think Jesses Jackson is a tad bit jealous which is really sad. Not agreeing with Barack is one thing but why is he so angry about Obama calling black fathers to accountability that he wants to cut his ___ off? All I can think is he is jealous nothing else explains it for me.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:47 am |
  42. William

    While the comments by Rev. Jackson were reprehensible, his character should not be assailed as if he were a demon. It is not unusual for leaders of a generation movement to have a different approach from the present day leaders. Rev. Jackson still has revelevance not only to the black community, but to the world as well. His organization, Operation Push still has worldwide appeal and has done a great deal in addressing poverty and economic inequality in America. In addition, Rev. Jackson himself works tirelessly in the socio-economic, political circles, keeping those issues in the forefront. In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a "war" on poverty. In 40 years, poverty levels in American have not decreased, in fact they have increased. So, there still is work to be done and organizations like Rev. Jackson's play a critical role in this job.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:43 am |
  43. Cindy

    So what....Jesse let his true feelings be known!? Do we always have to be SO PC? No one agrees 100% with everything that some one else does. You can always agree to disagree.

    Jesse obviously feels that Obama is turning his back on the black people and making disparaging remarks about them. He shouldn't have to apologize for anything!! He should have said yeah I said it and meant it! Instead he is trying to backtrack like he didn't mean it. He needs to get a spine! Obama isn't all that and is definitely nothing to be afraid of!


    July 10, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  44. Casey Oliver

    If this had been a white man to say he wanted to cut Obama's nuts off he would be out cast. Can you imagine if Don Imus had said this? Its not fair that since Jesse Jackson is a black man this is kind of brushed aside.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  45. Tootie

    The numbers of pastors and reverends making fools of themselves over this year's presidential election is REALLY getting to be ridiculous and disgraceful. Is this what Jesus taught Jesse Jackson? I mean, I've heard of an 'eye for an eye' but I can't seem to find the testicular reference in my Bible.

    Rather, it's an old Jesse Jackson, with an old message, that finds himself not particularly needed or catered to by Barak Obama. Obama arrogant? Maybe.... or maybe hell hath no fury like a Jesse snubbed.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:33 am |