NEW YORK – Rosie O'Donnell defended Rev. Jeremiah Wright on the "Today" show on Monday, saying Barack Obama's former pastor "made sense to me."
The comedian also compared herself to Wright, saying "some people confuse passion for rage." She also came to Wright's defense on his views on the origins of AIDS.
Below is a partial transcript:
HODA KOTB, co-host: You know Rosie there has been a void on morning TV since we don't hear your opinions. Every times there's like, I was going through a story today "I wonder what Rosie thinks about that." What about — can I ask you about just the little Jeremiah Wright thing?
ROSIE O'DONNELL: Yeah.
KOTB: This is a big deal. What have you been thinking when you've been watching this stuff in the headlines?
O'DONNELL: Well, did you see Bill Moyers recently give his speech about what happened after Reverend Wright was on his show?
KOTB: Tell, tell me.
O'DONNELL: He got thousands of e-mails, over like 5,000 e-mails and some of them irate, some of them understanding. But what it came to, boil down to in his mind is the fact that, you know, this man is, is following a tradition of black preachers and that there is a righteous indignation about people who were only considering three-fourths of a person until fairly recently in our history.
And that his anger, which annoys some and forces some to look at issues that America is not really ready to face, is the actual issue. That racism does exist in this country and it's still thriving.
And that some of the things that Jeremiah Wright says he's held accountable for and Oprah — not Oprah — Obama is held accountable for. But there are things that white preachers have said that are just as insane.
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, co-host: All of them should be held accountable.
O'DONNELL: Pat Robertson saying that, you know, gays and feminists were responsible for the 9/11 catastrophe.
GIFFORD: So you agree that they should all be held accountable, but do you think that we should make ...
GIFFORD: A little bit of move.
O'DONNELL: Here's what I think. There is a place in the world, an inspirational, liberational kind of preaching that Reverend Wright does.
You know when you read what he says, I was not as offended as the people in the polls that I read.
I listen to him, and frankly, it made sense to me. I totally understood what he was saying.
GIFFORD: Which part makes sense to you?
O'DONNELL: It made sense that ...
GIFFORD: That we introduced AIDS into the black community?
O'DONNELL: But Kathie Lee, you know what it's like for someone to pull one quote out of context for you.
He was comparing it to when the government did give syphilis to black Americans for 40 years. What he was saying is in his history, in his genetic memory, he knows what it's like for the government to infect his own people because he lived through those Tuskegee experiments. And that's what he was talking about.
You can't sort of pull the quote. He didn't just say, you know, "the government made AIDS." It's the same when I said, you know, you can support the men and not the man who sent them there. You can support every single Marine and Army man and Navy man in this war ...
GIFFORD: And women and women.
O'DONNELL: And women — and not support the war. And not support the mission.
KOTB: Do you think the Jeremiah Wright thing is going to have a big impact on, on, well tomorrow basically, Indiana and North Carolina? Do you think that's going to have an impact?
O'DONNELL: I think it will because I think there are, you know, five companies that own all the media in America and once they get a story they run it, and run it, and run it. CNN had a field day. For three weeks, all I heard was Jeremiah Wright and, and, you know, the horrible Miley Cyrus photos.
The women later went on to discuss Barbara Walter's new book.
KOTB: Well, there's a quote, and I don't have the exact one, but they kind of gave me a little sketchy one. It says, "Rosie tells me she loves me. She tells them I'm old and then she tells me she loves me. She's a great talent with emotional issues."
KOTB: And ...
O'DONNELL: You know, just ...
KOTB: You've done a lot for the show.
O'DONNELL: Well, just like Reverend Wright, some people confuse passion for rage.
You know, if you have passion and you're from this family in Long Island without a mom, with five kids having to make their way through life, you know, I have a lot of passion about things I believe in, and you know, passion on that show was not No. 1.
And when somebody would say something that I found insane, I would say, "that's insane!"
GIFFORD: It easy to confuse the two, but I don't know anybody truly in life that doesn't have emotional issues.
O'DONNELL: Of course.
KOTB: Right, right, right.
GIFFORD: Every single person, yes it's how you deal with them. And apparently you deal real well with them, just getting it out there.
O'Donnell left "The View" last May. She chose to depart Barbara Walters' ABC daytime talk show earlier than planned following an on-air confrontation with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Previously, she hosted her own daytime talk show from 1996 to 2002. She also produced a Broadway musical and founded a short-lived, namesake magazine.