Jesse JacksonJesseJackson

What was the accusation?

On July 6, 2008, during a break between taped television interview segments, Reverend Jesse Jackson made disparaging remarks about Barack Obama saying: “See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off.”  Unfortunately, Jackson didn’t realize that the microphone was “hot” and his statements were picked up on camera. Although then Senator Obama was quick to offer forgiveness to Jackson, the reverend was most harshly criticized by his son Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who was co-chairing Obama’s presidential campaign.  Of his fathers mistake he said: “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Bolstering, Differentiation

Video of Jackson’s Apology on CBS News

Transcript of Jackson’s Apology on CBS News

CBS: The Reverend Jesse Jackson is with us from Indianapolis. Good morning to you Reverend Jackson.

JJ: Good morning to you.

CBS: Are you sorry that you said it or are you sorry that it’s been heard publicly?

JJ: Well, that I said it, in part because I’m such a fervent supporter of the campaign and the messenger as a matter of fact.  I have such a passion for the campaign and for the redemptive moment it represents.  On the other hand, I have anxiety about the faith-based thrust and its limitations [unintelligible], which I think the media may have less interest in it.  For example, if you have a faith-based program for day care, the parents are unemployed facing home foreclosures and plants are closing, the government based and private sector initiative will go along with the faith-based initiative.  And so that’s a valid concern.

CBS: You said that he is talking down to black people.  Do you feel that he is?

JJ: I really don’t.  I think the limitation I have, when you go to a given church and focus on responsibility, well that is a very universal issue€¦

CBS: So, why did you say that if you don’t think he is?

JJ: Let me make my point.  Whether it’s in a black church or whether you’re in a labor union hall, we all must share responsibility, but that limited message must address the structural crisis in urban America where you have the mortality rate the shortest life expectancy, the most children’s schools with teachers less than three years experience.  The amazing murder rate because of [unintelligible].  So there really is the young faith-based and very heavy government lifting that must be done.

CBS: And you don’t think he’s doing that?

JJ: Well, I think it needs to be more visible.  If you talk to Barack as I have, he has very definite plans about that reinvestment in America, but the emphasis must be there and the media must be sensitive to the issue beyond just personal responsibility because we all believe in that because we need faith to get us up in the morning and hope to sustain us, but we need the substance to go along with it.

CBS: Have you mentioned this to Senator Obama?

JJ: When bridges are falling and levees are collapsing we need, in fact, serious economic investment.  It’s not enough to end the war in Iraq, we must also reinvest in America and that really is my passionate appeal frankly.

CBS: Given the fact that you disagree with how Senator Obama or, er, the topics he’s choosing for these speeches, do you support him and his campaign?

JJ: Unequivocally, and let me make it very clear, you need the faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for and so you need the faith, but you also need the substance and that’s where if you’re going to deal with structural inequality, that’s going to require investment.  Faith does not require an investment, nor does hope.  But, substance does.  Of course I think he’ll be surround by people along with his own vision to engage in the reinvestment.  How can we ignore that is overrun in Illinois and Iowa and Missouri?

CBS: You’ve already explained this, Reverend Jackson, so I just want to ask you quickly, do you feel that you have hurt this campaign that you say you support unequivocally?

JJ: Well, I certainly hope not and that’s why I was quick to respond.  And he was quick to respond very generously as well so our relationship is in tact and the campaign is in tact and we look forward to this magnificent redemptive transformative moment and then the beyond, but to regain this nation we must change the course and substance and direction and now.

CBS: Have you spoken with Senator Obama?  Have you apologized personally?

JJ: Well, we talked about his campaign yesterday, but we talk quite often because of our longstanding friendship.

CBS: Alright.  Reverend, Jesse Jackson, thank you very much.


Glendinning, L. (2008, July 17). What Jesse Jackson really said about Barack Obama. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Jackson apologizes for ‘crude’ Obama remarks (2008, July 9). CNN. Retrieved from:

Jesse Jackson says he wants to cut Obama’s ‘nuts out’ (2008, July 9). New York Post. Retrieved from:

Sklar, R. (2008, July 18). Aw nuts, Jesse Jackson, you can’t say that on television! Huffington Post. Retrieved from: