The Rev. Wright and William Ayers: Ghosts of Obama's Past Back in the Headlines

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," December 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: That “dizzy broad” from "The View." Don't look at us. We didn't say that. Reverend -- yes, Reverend -- Jeremiah Wright did on Sunday from the pulpit. Which woman on "The View" was he insulting? You will hear who in just a moment. But here he is, Reverend Wright, preaching yesterday at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Now, the Reverend definitely is not a fan of the media.


REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, FORMER PASTOR, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: Jesus said, Upon this rock I will build -- listen to the promise! -- my church, and the gates of hell -- listen to the promise! -- the gates of hell! -- neither ABC nor CNN, the gates of hell! -- neither Hannity nor O'Reilly -- the gates of hell! -- neither Time magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune -- neither (INAUDIBLE) the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! Nothing will be impossible with God!

Back in February 2007, it was impossible for a man of African descent to be elected to the president of a country which legitimized slavery in the Constitution and have him stand in front of a Capitol built by African slaves to take an oath to serve a country as president which defined his people legally as less than (INAUDIBLE) That's just not possible!

Nothing -- listen to the promise -- is impossible with God! He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the almighty! His word (ph) said, When my enemies and my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh -- somebody tell Hannity! -- they hum (ph), they stumbled, they fell. His word said, Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, in the presence of CNN, in the presence of FOX News. I'm feasting on (INAUDIBLE) bountiful supply!

Reverend Reggie (ph) asked me, Pastor Williams (ph) asked me, he said, Reverend, you don't have a church no more. But if you had a church, what would you preach this Sunday following the November 4 election? I said, Pastor Williams, the media tried to use me as a weapon of mass destruction to destroy the candidacy of President-elect Barack Obama. But his word (ph) said, No weapon -- no weapon formed (ph) against you~! That's what I preach.

This is the story of Jesus. He got off the gospel train in a barn in Bethlehem. He was laid in a manger. He was covered with swaddling clothes. There was no room for him in the inn.

He was sentenced to death by Pilate, a Roman governor. He was beaten and mocked by some Roman soldiers. Those are Italians, dizzy broad on "The View"!


VAN SUSTEREN: Elisabeth Hasselbeck responded to Reverend Wright today on "The View."


ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": He apparently said something -- he called me -- some of my comments -- he said that I was a dumb broad for saying what I did. And you know, basically, this is a man -- I've had a lot to say about Reverend Wright during the course of the election. He, by choosing those words, in my opinion, pretty much proves my points that I've been making about him this entire time. I mean, to call someone who simply disagrees with you a "dumb broad" is not only archaic but sexist.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us is Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for The Chicago Sun-Times. Lynn, in listening to him, everybody seemed to get a shout-out. Sean Hannity got one, Bill O'Reilly, Time magazine, your newspaper, The Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, which has a little problem today, but anyway, CNN, ABC, FOX News. He said the media tried to use him as a weapons of mass destruction. I didn't hear the part where he talked about how he spews hate, which is the reason all those new organizations went after him. Did I just miss this part?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: No, you didn't. You know, he talked about the gates of hell, as if that's a home delivery address, Greta, and it's not. It's a place where journalists do their jobs and report on what's news and the associates of anyone running for president. And what they say is news. He went on a three-sermon, I guess, vendetta yesterday at Trinity. And if he did not think that would whip up attention again on him instead of on President-elect Barack Obama, who's in Chicago getting ready to be president -- if he didn't think that would happen, then I don't know what he thought he might have absorbed or learned in this.


Watch Greta's interview

VAN SUSTEREN: See, I think he loves this. I mean, he's the one who said, "G-D America" and said all the horrible things about people. I mean, he's so full of hate, and now he's playing the big victim. Oh, woe is me, this rotten media because they don't like my hate. They don't like the fact that I'm just plain-out nasty, trying to stir up every single person I can. And so I'm the big victim of these mean old news organizations.

SWEET: And for a lot of -- you know, some of -- he made no distinction between people who were just reporting on his controversy, the people who did investigations. And also, he was very happy to take an interview with PBS when he sat down with Bill Moyers to try and get his point across. He was happy to have live coverage of his NAACP speech in Detroit, when it was just casting him in a favorable light. And he was very happy to go to the National Press Club and have a press conference to talk...

VAN SUSTEREN: And (INAUDIBLE) -- you know, and the thing is, is that, you know, it wasn't the media who hid him in the basement and tried to push him under. It was media trying to find out, like, Why is this guy hidden in the basement? So then everyone started looking for the tapes and then -- these are his words that have come back to haunt him.

But let me ask you, why was he back at his church, preaching on Sunday?

SWEET: Well, it was the 47th anniversary of Trinity Church. The pastor who replaced him had a long-standing other obligation to go to. And so Reverend Wright was called in to substitute preach, which makes sense. I mean, this is a church that he basically made into what it is today. And he gave three sermons, where he gave a version of what you heard at each of them. And by the way, it was live-streamed on the Internet so even the reporters weren't necessarily allowed in. You know, clearly, he had to know that there would be videotape available of what he did -- of what he said. So I think by now, he or people around him should know how this would play out, that he would say something controversial. And guess what he talked about?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, when he -- when he insulted Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View," calling her a "dizzy broad" or a "dumb broad," is there any way to see how the audience reacted to that, whether the audience was with him or not or thought that was a great thing to be, you know, jumping up and saying, like Reverend Wright did in the church?

SWEET: Well, I don't know. I mean, I wasn't there. I wonder if people really knew explicitly what he was talking about because, you know, he didn't mention her by name. But again, that's the kind of attack that is aimed more at the media, who I think he probably had an idea would be watching sermons like this pretty carefully more than -- I think he might have been playing to two audiences. here, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess, you know, he just -- he gave all this free promo to "The View." Sean Hannity got so much free promo out of this. I'm just jealous that Sean gets all that free promo. And it costs a lot of money when you put it, like, in, you know, newspapers (INAUDIBLE) but Sean got the free stuff and so did Bill O'Reilly.


VAN SUSTEREN: And so did your newspaper. Anyway, Lynn, thank you very much.

SWEET: Hey, thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now for tonight's live vote. You probably have your computer on right now, so go to and answer this question. Do you agree with Elisabeth Hasselbeck that Reverend Wright's comments from the pulpit on Sunday were sexist, yes or no? We're going to read your results at the end of the hour.

And it's not just Reverend Wright. Another controversial associate from President-elect Obama's past is speaking out about the presidential election. Bill Ayers, co-founder of the Weather Underground, writes an op-ed piece in The New York Times.

Ayers writes this, in part, about the media's portrayal of him. "Now that the election is over, I want to say as plainly as I can that the character invented to serve this drama wasn't me, not even close. Here are the facts.

"I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1960s and later resisted the draft and was arrested in non-violent demonstrations. I became a full-time anti-war organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices. The ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation."

Joining us live is Abdon Pallasch, a political reporter for The Chicago Sun-Times. What has driven Bill Ayers now out in the public almost coincidentally with Reverend Wright this weekend?

ABDON PALLASCH, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Greetings, fellow guardian of the gates of hell.


PALLASCH: You know, there's a little bit of a difference between Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers in that Bill Ayers did sort of stay in the attic through the campaign and didn't grant any interviews or not say (INAUDIBLE) while Reverend Wright was out doing a tour, much to the chagrin of the Obama campaign, bringing some bad press in the campaign. Ayers refused all interviews until after the campaign. Now he's out on his explain himself" tour, where he's doing pieces like this piece that he wrote for The New York Times over the weekend, where he tried to -- his argument is that he never put human lives at risk, it was property damage...

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but you know what? But here's...

PALLASCH: ... It was vandalism.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the thing that jumps out when you read the article, the op-ed. He says the responsibility for a "small bomb" -- I mean, like, when you put a bomb someplace, though, I mean, it's -- it's his characterization. It's a small bomb. Look, I don't care if it's small, medium or large, a bomb is a bomb.

PALLASCH: There's always risk, and people were killed by the -- the Weathermen and the Weather Underground. It's interesting where he says that he -- he came in after the accidental bombing in Greenwich Village killed three of their comrades. He was a member of the Weathermen. It was after this bombing that he co-founded the Weather Underground because they had to go underground after that. And these other deaths that have been mentioned -- you know, a policeman and a guard that were killed in an attempted robbery -- those happened after he wasn't involved. So he can make the argument that he was not directly involved in any injuries to people, this his (INAUDIBLE) was just vandalism, and you know, radical activism, not terrorism.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he also goes on in this op-ed piece, which sort of stands out to me -- he actually describes Reverend Wright, another person from Chicago who we just spoke about, as a preacher with a, quote, "fiery style." For some reason, calling it "fiery style," when he has -- when he spews hate -- I don't know why I -- "fiery style" are not the words that jump to mind when I think of Reverend Wright. It almost reminds me of Father Pfleger, who made the most insulting and vicious attack on Senator Clinton, soon to be secretary of state. I mean, it's almost like they apologize for each other. Everything's OK with them.

PALLASCH: Well, they're all sort of fellow symbols -- they're all -- they're all attacked by, you know, what they perceive as hostile media like FOX News or even, you know, The Sun-Times or the Tribune, that are doing stories that don't always reflect favorably on them. When we print the words they have that -- that -- that are full of resentment -- you can call it hate, you can call it vitriol, whatever you want to call it -- it doesn't always reflect favorably. And they -- so they find themselves fellow travelers here as controversial figures used to bludgeon Barack Obama during his campaign by the other side.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what the interesting thing about it, though, is that these aren't words we're misstating what they're saying. We have them on tape. We have Pfleger. We have Wright on tape. And Bill Ayers writes his own op-ed using the language "small bomb." It's not like we're making this stuff up. They're handing it to us.

PALLASCH: Yes, indeed. I suppose I could argue their side here that they -- you can take -- with Reverend Wright, obviously, you pull the most incendiary quotes that he's ever had, you know, after 9/11 saying, you know, God bless America, no God damn America, where he says he's criticizing U.S. foreign policy, but it sure, you know, sounds pretty vitriolic. Is it resentment? Is it hate?

But you pull that all together, and it sure as heck caught the attention of a whole lot of Americans who may have made their decision of whether or not to support their friend -- or their associate, Barack Obama, based on what they said.

VAN SUSTEREN: Abdon, thank you very much. Hope you'll come back.

PALLASCH: You bet, Greta.

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