Sharpton on Jackson's Obama Remarks

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to "Hannity & Colmes", I'm Sean Hannity. We get right to our top breaking news story tonight.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has been caught making some disparaging comments about Senator Barack Obama. Now Reverend Jackson was preparing to appear right here on the FOX News Channel when he said this while the cameras were rolling.


JACKSON: See, Barack's been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based. I want to cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.

Barack — he's talking down to black people.


Videos: Part 1 | Part 2

HANNITY: Now, late this afternoon Reverend Jackson issued a statement that reads, in part, quote, "For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama's campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment."

And then later this afternoon Jackson also held a press conference in Chicago, and here's what he said there.


JACKSON: I have great passion for this campaign and traveled across the country, (INAUDIBLE) of our nation on radio and TV and churches and schools, arguing the case for the campaign, and I want to remain a part of this supportive element of it.

And yet if this thing I've said in the hot mic statement that's been attributed as a distraction, I offer an apology for that because I don't want harm or hurt to come to this campaign.


HANNITY: Now the Obama campaign released the following statement regarding the comments.

"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.

He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other, and he, of course, accepts Reverend Jackson's apology."

Joining us tonight with more on this developing story is GOPAC chairman and FOX News contributor Michael Steele and from the National Action Network, it's the Reverend Al Sharpton is with us.

Reverend, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.


HANNITY: All right, your initial reaction?

SHARPTON: I think it's very unfortunate. I think that I'm glad Reverend Jackson apologized, I'm glad Senator Barack Obama accepted. I happen to think that talking about parenting is not talking down to black people.

In fact, I think that when Bill Cosby did it or Barack Obama did it, it's the right thing to do, and I think the substance of the issue is more important with how they deal with these statements that it clearly were something that I would not say, and I don't think Reverend Jackson is saying is justifiable.

HANNITY: I want to cut his — off. I deleted a word there?


HANNITY: That doesn't..

SHARPTON: I mean, you know, Sean, Reverend Jackson has done a lot of great things in his life. I think that anyone would say this is not his greatest moment. I don't think you should try to defend it. I've seen other people that you and I have talked about — Billy Graham once was caught on tape in the White House, and people said let's not judge him all by that.

So I mean I don't think this is about Jesse Jackson caught on tape. He's addressed that.

HANNITY: Now let me ask you this.

SHARPTON: I think the issue of parenting, the issue of faith bases — that should be the issues we talk.

HANNITY: No, but I — could we now make the same argument because you were right out there in front with Don Imus.


HANNITY: . in that controversy. Don Imus has done a lot of great things in his life.


HANNITY: But hang on. He has a ranch for kids with cancer, he's involved in other charities with SIDS and kids — sudden infant death syndrome — raised a lot of money, it's been on the air. You didn't seem to be as forgiving there.

SHARPTON: If Don Imus had been whispering privately and got caught on a hot mic, that would be a whole different story than Don Imus deciding to come on his show and make a public.


HANNITY: I don't think he thought about that statement.

SHARPTON: Well, now you're trying to just split hair.

HANNITY: I'm not justifying, I'm just asking.

SHARPTON: Then you're talking about something caught on a hot mic.


SHARPTON: . that all of us agree is inappropriate and something that Don Imus intended to say that when he came back he said he should have been fired for.

HANNITY: All right. Michael Steele?

MICHAEL STEELE, GOPAC CHAIRMAN: Well, I — you know, I feel really bad for Senator — for Jesse Jackson. He's a good friend, I've known Jesse a long time, and I know where his heart and his passions are, and I think, for me, irrespective of the nuances or lack thereof in this case, the question — the real question is why did he think that?

Why does he think and say that to reflect something else beneath the surface? And, you know, I think, you know, whether it's on a hot mic or he intentionally says it on air, it's the intent behind the words.

HANNITY: Well, Michael, let me follow up on that, because I think this gets to the heart of the matter. You know a lot of us are trying to figure out where Barack Obama is really coming from, the core of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and we've been through the controversy with Reverend Wright.

STEELE: Right.

HANNITY: You know, is it the Barack Obama who talked about people in Pennsylvania as being bitter, clinging to their guns and religion? Or is it the real Barack Obama that we hear inspiring people to faint as he's out on the campaign trail? Did Jesse Jackson really mean what he said here and now he's trying to cover up for it? Is this.

STEELE: I think — you know, not knowing the heart and the mind of the man at the moment, I think there has to be an element of truth to what he was saying or at least a feeling that what Obama has been saying on this issue does not address a broader concern that Jesse Jackson may have.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: We're talking about.

STEELE: And the reality of it is this, you know, when the faith-based issue was first introduced by George Bush in 1999 and 2000, it was panned by the left, and I'd be curious to know what Barack Obama's prescient statements were or thoughts were on faith-based initiatives.

COLMES: Yes, it is.

STEELE: . six years (INAUDIBLE) now.

COLMES: Michael, good to see you, Reverend.


COLMES: The big lesson here is if there's a microphone anywhere near you — first of all, I don't even any talk in my office. There's a vase there, I think, is miked, so you know? I'd be very careful, we all know that, you know?

The question is, this is what — what's in Jesse's heart? Have you ever talked, Al, to Jesse about his relationship with Obama and how he really feels about.

SHARPTON: I mean I have not had that discussion. I talked to Reverend Jackson, I talk to Senator Obama down through the years. (INAUDIBLE). You know you don't sit up and say what do you think about this and we don't sit around gossiping like that. But I.

COLMES: I can say I'd love to be there.

SHARPTON: I know you would, or the hot mic will be there.


I think that the real issue, though, is — let me address what Mr. Steel said and what Sean said. One, I think many of us had reservations about faith-based, and I think that if you listen — and I don't speak for Senator Obama's campaign, I certainly support him, but I'm not here representing him.


SHARPTON: He said that he wanted to deal with faith-based as long as it did not proselytize or violate people. That was the objection. And I don't think that that is something that many — I agree with that position, I agreed with it in 2004.

And for Sean to say, well, is this the real Barack? I mean maybe I missed something. Jesse was talking about doing something to Barack. I didn't hear Barack say anything.


So I don't know who you turn this around on Barack.

HANNITY: Is this the real Jesse?


COLMES: The issue here, Michael Steele, is — you know, Jesse Jackson probably agrees with Barack Obama on 98 percent of issues, and maybe they have a difference of opinion on Barack Obama's statement on what he would do with faith-based charities, and maybe he is truly upset about this particular position.

That doesn't mean he wants to disparage him totally or doesn't agree with his candidacy.

STEELE: I absolutely agree with you, Alan, on that, but again, I go back to my central point that there's got to be something in this platform of Obama's with respect to the black family, black men, the faith-based initiative, that rubs at Jesse Jackson in a way that would have him say on mic/off mic, or express on mic or off mic, something that he feels.

And I just think that's the core of this at the end of the day. What is it that triggers that kind of response from someone like Jesse Jackson, who, as everyone's indicated, is intimately — connected to Obama's campaign.


STEELE: ...and has been working for them. So there's something there that I think goes to the core of this, and the reality of it is, on the faith-based initiative, there is not much difference, if any, between what President Bush proposed and what Obama's talking about right now.

COLMES: There is a difference because.


There's a big difference, as the Reverend Sharpton just pointed out, but we'll get more into that.

I also want to get into this issue, did he really — is he really perceived as talking down to black people, as Jesse Jackson said.



REV. JESSE JACKSON: See, Barack's been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based. I want to cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.

Barack — he's talking down to black people.


COLMES: Once again those were Jesse Jackson's off-mic remarks about likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Earlier today Jackson gave a press conference about the incident.

Let's listen to it.


JACKSON: When you make mistakes, you should not equivocate. You should be quick to ruin the offensive and try not to be evasive, and if it was said to him personally or in some public forum, there would have been even more hurtful.

In this case I was responding to a question before a live mike, and so when he does hear them, they will not be helpful, they will be hurtful, but we have a relationship that can survive this.


COLMES: We now continue with Michael Steele and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Reverend Sharpton, the other part that Jesse Jackson said was accusing Barack Obama of talking down to black people. I'm not sure what he meant by that. I don't see it there.

SHARPTON: Well, I don't either. You know the deal with parenting, I think, that is not talking down, I think it's really trying to lift people up and challenge people, and I immediately saluted Barack Obama for saying that. As Bill Cosby said — now how does a young leader in this country today on radio and — Warren Ballentine does half his show challenging people on that.

I don't think a lot of people understand how many people in the black community, whether you're Ballentine or Obama, are really concerned about.

COLMES: And isn't that what they teach in black churches as well?

SHARPTON: Every Sunday, every Friday night, is to try — whatever happens in life, you have responsibility to your children.


SHARPTON: So just because someone may want government to be fairer, that does not mean we want people to be irresponsibility. We fight for the right to have an even playing field, not to be irresponsible.

COLMES: Lieutenant Governor Steele, do you see it that way, that he was somehow — in some of his comments, could he be perceived as talking down to African-Americans?

I don't know where he gets that.

STEELE: Well, I don't get this connection that, you know, this had anything to do so much with the — what Obama was saying about fathers and so forth. I think it's the general tone and the attitude that goes with it, the air of, you know, you've got to get — do a better job of taking responsibility as opposed to really understanding the context in which that responsibility needs to be taken.

And I think that's kind of where Jesse Jackson is rubbed on this issue. I mean there's more and more — you see it in the press and media about this air about Obama and some of his language and some of the words he's using to describe situations and talk to individuals.

And I think that in terms of the black experience and what Jesse Jackson heard just rubbed him the wrong way. Now I personally think there's a little bit more to it than that, but, you know, we'll see if this gets unfolded in the next few weeks.

HANNITY: Reverend Al, let me go back to you here for a second.

Words matter, words mean something, Barack Obama's told us that. Here is him from his audio book from "Dreams of My Father," and this was quoting the infamous speech of Reverend Wright, and here's what he says.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where white folks greed runs the world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere.

That's the world on which hope sits.


HANNITY: White — while folks' greed runs a world of need? White folks' greed?

SHARPTON: You said he's quoting a speech.

HANNITY: Well, he — but he was praising "The Audacity of Hope" speech. That's "The Audacity of Hope" speech.

SHARPTON: Well, I — you know, I think, again, we've gone over Jeremiah Wright until the wheels come off away.

HANNITY: I'm not talking about Jeremiah — I'm talking about Barack Obama.

SHARPTON: Now we're going to do Jesse Jackson. I think that Barack Obama has been eloquent and long about his views with his former pastor, and I don't think there's any redemptive value in going over there.

I think that it's much more constructive that you as a practicing Christian to deal with the issues he's raised on parenting and faith based. I'm surprised that you're not saying Obama's right to bring to the Democratic Party faith based.


SHARPTON: Obama's right to talk about parenting.


SHARPTON: I think that you and Michael are trying to plant this seed of a black-on-black leadership fight when Obama's running for president. He's not trying to get into who's going to be black leaders and all of that.

HANNITY: Michael...


HANNITY: Michael?

STEELE: Reverend, I was really hoping you wouldn't go there because this has nothing to do with that. No one's planting any seed on black-on- black.

SHARPTON: Well, you keep saying that maybe.


STEELE: Let me just make my point. I think there is. And.

SHARPTON: Fine. Whatever is there is there, Michael, and I hope that Reverend Jackson.


But I hope it does not get in the way of his message about parenting and about faith-based initiatives.


HANNITY: Michael, Bill Clinton said the race card was played against him by the Obama campaign.


HANNITY: Have you seen that?

SHARPTON: You should hear what he says about FOX.

HANNITY: You should hear what he says about me.

Go ahead.

STEELE: No, I think there was an effective use or reversal, if you will, on playing the race card in that case. I mean you see now — and there's been commentary again, you know, not coming from Republicans, and not trying to plan any seeds, that basically address the fact that, you know, you — there are certain things that are off the table with this campaign you can't talk about, otherwise you're racist.

So, yes, I think there is a little bit of that element, and the reality of it remains when Republicans talked about these issues of fatherhood, responsibility, faith-based, we got blasted. Now that it has — comes in a different package, everyone's like oh, that's a good idea, and I think, again, it's a little disingenuous to try to paint this one way versus way — the way it's been for the last few years.

HANNITY: Well, you got to wonder. Do you think that maybe Jesse Jackson's jealous of Barack?

SHARPTON: No, I — I think that Jesse Jackson apologizes, it's accepted, we should deal with the bigger issue.

HANNITY: All right.

STEELE: Right.

HANNITY: Thanks both for being with us.

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