On Sunday, Jesse Jackson made the following comments in the presence of a FOX News microphone, thinking that it was turned off: “See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts out (or off – a FOX transcript had it as “out”).” Well, the mic did pick it up, and today, Bill O’Reilly threatened to air the video of that comment, and he did. Well, Jesse Jackson apologized before “The O’Reilly Factor”, so that he wouldn’t look AS big of a jerk. Here’s a transcript from his CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: Breaking news we’re watching, a new apology from the Reverend Jesse Jackson for a very crude and hurtful remark he made about Senator Barack Obama.
You heard him say he’s sorry first here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Only moments from now, he’s about to speak out about the comments that were caught on an open microphone.
Plus, Senator Obama accused of flip-flopping on spying — the vote that put him in strange company with President Bush and against Hillary Clinton.
And Edward Kennedy’s dramatic return to the U.S. Senate today, even as he battles brain cancer. The reason he couldn’t stay away — all that coming up, plus the best political team on television.
I’m Wolf Blitzer. You’re in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We’re awaiting a news conference where Jesse Jackson will once again try to explain why he said something so obscene regarding Barack Obama. We can’t even repeat it or report precisely his words here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
We’re following the breaking news after Reverend Jackson was caught saying something about Barack Obama that Jackson himself now regretfully calls — and I’m quoting now — “crude and hurtful.”
CNN’s Don Lemon is at the CNN Center in Atlanta. He spoke first with Reverend Jackson about this incident.
It’s causing a lot of angst out there. Update our viewers who might just be tuning in as to what we know, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Causing a lot of angst, Wolf.
And I have to tell you — and you have been speaking to the Reverend Jesse Jackson as well. This is something that he never wanted, probably his worst nightmare. And when you save something obscene — it was during an interview this weekend. After he was finishing up an interview, a television interview, he didn’t realize his mike was open, having a conversation about Barack Obama’s — what he’s been saying about black people and the black church, his conversations about that. And, again, when you say obscene, apparently, on the microphone, he said something about Barack Obama, the best way to put it is, has been cutting his manhood with black people. And I think most people realize exactly what I’m saying, something that only a man would have, but cutting his manhood with black people because he is not speaking in broader context, a much more broader context about issues that are important to African-Americans.
Now, during THE SITUATION ROOM, we interviewed the reverend exclusively, the first interview after this controversy broke. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: This is a sound bite within a broader conversation about urban policy and racial disparities.
And I feel very distressed because I’m so supportive of this campaign and what the senator has done and is doing. I was in a conversation with a fellow guest at FOX on Sunday. And he asked about Barack’s speeches lately at the black churches.
I said he can come off 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.
And, frankly, I think that is his basic urban policy position. No one else put one together except him in this situation. And then I said something I thought regretfully crude. It was very private and very much a sound bite in a live mike.
And so, I feel — I find no comfort in it. I find no joy in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And as we wait for that press conference for Reverend Jackson’s comments there at Rainbow/PUSH on the South Side of Chicago, I want to tell you that I spoke to him no more than five or 10 minutes ago, just before this show.
And, Wolf, even you picked up on this when you spoke to him. I have never heard the Reverend Jackson sound so contrite and really so concerned about any comment he has made in the media or otherwise.
But I think what Reverend Jackson realizes here is that this can take on legs and wings beyond anyone’s control. And, again, the Obama campaign, of course, tonight is saying that they don’t have a comment about this.
But I have to tell you, Wolf, a lot of black leaders, a lot of folks are calling me saying, you know what, it is regretful. And they want to have their say in exactly what’s going on. But, again, the reverend says he thinks that there should be a much broader conversation that Barack Obama needs to have with African-Americans — Wolf.
BLITZER: Because, Don, as you know, there’s a — and we can’t precisely say what he was reporting, because — what he was saying before that open mike because it’s so crude.
But there is — when you look at what he was suggesting in that crude remark, a whole racial history in our country precisely involving that.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely.
And here’s the thing that people probably would not know, and just because of you knowing the reverend as well, and I came here from Chicago, is that this family, these two families, are particularly close families. And they live in the same neighborhood. Their children are friends. So, it’s almost a family issue for them I would say coming to light here in a very, very bad, in a very public way.
And, of course, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is saying he hopes this does not blow up to the level of course of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But again we heard it there in his voice as we broke it on the air and as I talked to him exclusively in the CNN NEWSROOM and then here in THE SITUATION ROOM that he sounds more contrite than you or I have ever heard.
BLITZER: Absolutely right.
All right, Don, we will stand by to hear from Reverend Jackson. Once he gets to that microphone, we will go there.
BLITZER: All right, we will continue to watch this story together with you, Kate, very much.
Let’s go back to Chicago right now, the Reverend Jesse Jackson apologizing profusely for very crude remarks, ugly remarks he made before an open microphone involving Senator Barack Obama.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JACKSON: Let me express my thanks to you for your presence today.
Let me say at the outset I have supported Barack’s campaign with passion from the very beginning. I thought the idea made sense. I thought it was part of a great historical continuity no one could project or predict would be as successful as it has been. We have been there all the way, because I think this campaign is a redemptive moment for America and a great opportunity for us to redefine the course of our country and is, in fact, the healing moment.
It’s the end of a 54-year journey. I have traveled much of that journey. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled apartheid to be illegal. And for 10 years of test cases, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Little Rock Nine, the sit-ins, we finally got July 2, ’64, a new law, a public accommodation bill.
In ’64, we had the sit-ins in the Democratic Convention by Fannie Lou Hamer challenging the makeup of the racial composition of the party in Mississippi. We won that battle.
In ’65, the right to vote. And this unfolded from the right to vote, such a big deal for us now. And it was so bloody and so full of terror when we first got it. In Selma, Alabama, white women couldn’t serve on juries. Farmers who didn’t pay (INAUDIBLE) taxes couldn’t vote. Blacks couldn’t vote.
In ’75, we — teenagers got the right to vote — 18-year-olds could vote. In ’74, right of residential students on campus could vote where they went to school. So, University of Iowa, for example, you didn’t have to vote absentee. You can vote where you go to school. That was a big deal in this year’s caucuses.
In the ’84, ’88 campaign, we fought to reduce the threshold and to have proportionality and not just winner take all. And, so, 54 years of marches and martyrdom and murder and trial and error, and here we are today with the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama.
I’m glad to be part of the journey and support his campaign unequivocally.
Let me hasten to say, as we move toward August the 28th, it was August 28, 1955 when Emmett Till was lynched for the low moment. August 28, ’63, Dr. King dreaming from Washington rising higher.
In August 28, he will be the nominee in Denver, Colorado. So, we ride the crest. We cherish this history. And I want to say, I have great passion for this campaign and travel across the country the length and breadth of our nation on radio and TV in churches and schools arguing the case for the campaign. And I want to part of the supportive element of it. And if in this thing I have said in a hot mike statement that’s interpreted as distractions, I offer an apology for that, because I don’t want harm or hurt to come to this campaign. It represents too much of a dreams of so many who have paid such great prices. And I’m very sensitive to what that means.
And, so, I want to make that very clear. I sent a message to Barack’s campaign a while ago of our continued support for the campaign.
I do have a passion for urban and rural policy. Are we rising politically? And we see where Hillary and Barack were the conduits for a new and better America politically. The economy is going the opposite direction of our politics. In urban America, where there is such — such disparities and such gross unemployment, such structural inequalities, such high unemployment, in urban America, my passion is, as he speaks to black churches and challenges people there to use their best and to have a better commitment to their families, I’m all with that, because it’s the right message, a message I repeat over and over again.
Black America and urban America often needs a structure and needs beyond a faith-based policy, which is important, a government-based policy, and an economic private sector-based policy. If the churches are able to do day care for the children…
BLITZER: All right, so the Reverend Jesse Jackson, you heard him once again apologizing to Senator Barack Obama for rather crude remarks he made before an open mike over the weekend, remarks only now being disseminated.
And I want to go back to Don Lemon, who has been working this story for us.
As precise as we can be, tell our viewers what exactly he said. We can’t be exact here in THE SITUATION ROOM. But the remarks he made, disparaging Senator Obama were, as he himself acknowledges now, rather crude.
LEMON: Well, it’s to the effect that Barack Obama was cutting off his manhood with black people, or genitals, or something.
BLITZER: Male private parts. The suggestion really was castration, if you will.
LEMON: Right, and that he’s doing it with African-Americans because he is not speaking as concisely and as pointedly as he should about issues that affect African-Americans.
And if you sort of listen to the undertone here, I think he’s saying that maybe Barack Obama is playing to a larger audience, as we call it, or a larger voting bloc, by not identifying with those issues that as the reverend feels that he should be. But I can tell you this. When he talked about — I think he said our economy is going in the opposite way of our politics and he brought up the struggles that he made during the civil rights movement, he has told me this. And when we did the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s death at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, he said this to me personally.
He says, listen, Don, you guys have been talking about these issues. You have been saying, it’s bloggers, that it’s the Internet, that it’s some sort of wave or phenomenon. He goes, this is 40 years of civil rights struggles and battles that African-Americans, black people in this country, have fought for. And you’re not talking about this. You’re talking about new activists, new leaders, people who have just come up through the ranks.
And he says, this whole thing is a culmination of the fight and the struggle that black people fought for 40 years in this country since the death — or longer — since the death of Martin Luther King Jr.
BLITZER: What a story this is going to be. We are going to continue to watch it, Don. Thanks very much.
Jackson’s son, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), the Co-Chair of Obama’s campaign, told reporters, “I’m deeply outraged and disappointed in Reverend Jackson’s reckless statements about Senator Barack Obama. 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. Reverend Jackson is my dad, and I’ll always love him. I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”
Apparently, the statement that prompted Jackson’s words was a speech where Obama said, “We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.”
Today, Obama spokesman Bill Burton told reporters, “As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives.”
Jackson (Sr.) also came out with a press release, saying, “My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility.”
Personally, I don’t think that Obama talks down to black people – I think Jesse Jackson talks too highly of black people. The way he talks, he acts like they’re better than white people. And that’s just as wrong as somebody talking down to a black person! Everybody’s the same, and Jackson focuses on race and racism so much, that he makes it impossible for us to get OVER the color of someone’s skin. You don’t have to be color blind, but Jesse, it doesn’t have to be the focus of EVERY issue!
And the thing is – Jesse Jackson isn’t sorry for what he said. He’s sorry that he got caught. If FOX wouldn’t have picked up this conversation, he wouldn’t have called Obama up and said, “Hey, Barack, I said some crap behind your back, and it was pretty mean and crude, and I’m sorry.” The only reason he apologized was to make himself look better (and he can really only go up from here).
Jesse Jackson is a very hateful, and racist man. It’s ironic, but true. I’ll keep you updated as the story continues to develop.