This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," March 27, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Senator Obama's former pastor, Reverend Wright, is still nowhere to be found. Where is he? Why isn't he speaking at any of his scheduled events? Reverend Wright is being honored at a Brite Divinity School in Texas. He was scheduled to accept the honor in person. Reverend Wright was also set to speak at a church in Houston. But Reverend Wright will not be attending either event.
Our producer, Steph Watts, is in Texas and spoke with Reverend Marcus Cosby, the pastor of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, where Reverend Wright was scheduled to speak.
STEPH WATTS, FOX PRODUCER: Thank you, Reverend, so much for speaking with us today.
REV. MARCUS COSBY, WHEELER AVENUE BAPTIST CHURCH: Sure.
WATTS: So you had Reverend Wright scheduled to speak here on Sunday, correct?
COSBY: That's correct.
WATTS: When did you find out about the cancellation?
COSBY: I found out Monday. Monday, the church called — actually, a member of his family called me and informed me that he would not be able to share with us due to his concerns about the safety, first of our church, which was unique in my estimation, but he was concerned about the safety of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and he was concerned about the safety of his family, and likewise concerned about his own safety.
WATTS: Was it Reverend Wright that called you (INAUDIBLE)
COSBY: No, one of his family members.
WATTS: We had heard some — we had learned some information today that there's been some bomb threats and threats to churches. Have you received threats here?
COSBY: We've not received any threats. We had some persons to share very strong opinions about what we were doing and whether — their thoughts it was not an appropriate thing to invite Dr. Wright to share with us. But we've had no real threats.
WATTS: And those were received by phone or e-mails or...
COSBY: Basically, e-mails. Persons have called — or e-mailed our Web site, and through that Web site, we had some pretty strong opinions. But that's about all.
WATTS: What — have you spoken with Reverend Wright about this?
COSBY: Not yet. He and I have gone back and forth via e-mail. We've not spoken. I'm waiting to talk to him. I know he's quite busy with meetings ever since he returned from vacation. So we've not spoken yet.
WATTS: What kind of message are we putting out in America right now with this kind of backlash from what's happened? What's your thoughts on that?
COSBY: I think we've finally opened up a potential real discussion about race in America, about racism in America, about the reality of racism in America. And I think that what we have gone through over the last two weeks has helped us to see that we really do have a lot of work to do in our country to ensure that persons of all races, persons of all genders understand that there is a communication gap and that we do have some discussion that must take place if we're really going to be the United States of America that we were intended to be.
WATTS: Is it disappointing to you to see that Reverend Wright has had to cancel appointments all across this country?
COSBY: Extremely disappointing. It's disappointing that persons would be so — so hateful, so upset, frustrated that they would go to such lengths to threaten his life and his safety based upon his ability to speak truth to power and his willingness to speak out where he sees injustice and oppression.
WATTS: We've seen snippets of what Reverend Wright has said, and Reverend Wright's people feel that they've been taken out of context. What's your thought on what you've seen and how it's played out in the media?
COSBY: Without a doubt, most of his comments have been taken out of context. They've been used, as we've heard repeatedly over the last few weeks, this business of sound bites. They've been a bit overwhelming because the entire context of the message has not been given from, first, a biblical perspective, a sociological perspective, and the application of the messages that he has shared. So it's been a bit challenging to me that persons have not heard all of what Dr. Wright has to say. And he does have a lot to say that will help us to become a better people, if we would listen to the entirety of what he has to say to us.
WATTS: Do you plan to have — to reschedule Dr. Wright, to have him back?
COSBY: Absolutely. He's always welcome at Wheeler Avenue. He has been coming here for nearly 20 years, and we will not stop inviting him based upon what has happened in the media over the last few weeks.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend Myron Cloyd, a close friend of Reverend Wright, joins us live in Houston. Welcome, Reverend.
REV. MYRON CLOYD, PILGRIM CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH: Hello. How are you doing today?
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. Have you, sir, spoken to Reverend Wright in the last week or so?
CLOYD: No, I haven't. I haven't had a chance to have any conversation with him. You know, things are going — you know, things are so hectic right now that, you know, it's really difficult, I imagine. And you know, a lot of things are going on, and I'm sure he's, you know, really preoccupied.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we just heard from Reverend Marcus Cosby that they have not received specific threats against Reverend Wright, and we were sort of under the impression that that was the reason for the cancellation. Do you know anything about that?
CLOYD: Yes, from a couple of different sources, you know, I've heard about specific threats upon his life, specific threats on his church. And you know — you know, some of it could be, you know, rumor. I haven't, you know, seen any documentation on anything. But certainly, you know, I hear from what I would consider credible sources that there have been some threats on his life, on Trinity United Church of Christ and on some of the places that he's been scheduled to speak.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But you have no personal knowledge, it's just somebody told you, is that correct?
CLOYD: Yes, essentially.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
CLOYD: Yes, folks who I think who would know. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One of the criticisms that has been leveled against the media is that we have taken out of context what the Reverend has said. And I heard the Reverend Marcus Cosby say that, as well. Let me ask you something. Could you put in context for me the comment, "GD America"? Because that certainly has, you know, gotten people all riled up that he has made — is there any way to put that one in context? Does that have an innocent explanation?
CLOYD: OK, repeat that again? I didn't hear exactly what you said.
VAN SUSTEREN: He was talking about America, and he said — he was saying "GD" — "God damn America," is what he said. And...
CLOYD: Yes. Well, when I talked with you last week, again, you know, understanding the context. And if you guys would, you know, even, you know, put on your Web site and — or play — take some time, as well as the dialogues that we're having, to play, you know, a larger segment of that sermon...
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you explain that to me? Can you explain how that would be, in any context — just explain that to me — put it in context so there's an innocent explanation of that one for me.
CLOYD: Well, I don't know if it's innocent. Nothing's, like, innocent, you know, here. We're dealing with some very critical issues. And as I said to you last week, you know, there are things that, you know, our government has done in the name of the country and the name of the people that need to be condemned. There's policies that we have that should be condemned.
And I think, in my estimation, from hearing the sermon in its entirety, that that's what he was talking about, that there's things that are done in the name of America, that are done by the government, are done by people in the name of the government, that should be condemned. And you know, you know that as well as I do, Greta. There are things that are done that are not right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess the reason I say that is that, you know, the thing that has sort of sparked the controversy is that Senator Obama has been at that church for 20 years. He first said that he wasn't there during his controversial things. Then he later says that he didn't — apparently didn't notice them or it was never said in front of him. And now we've got some writings that have surfaced. And I'm just trying to see if there's some way you can put this in context so that — the reason he didn't get up and leave or say anything. And that's a judgment issue.
CLOYD: Well, you know — you know, I don't know. I wasn't there. You know, I haven't been walking with, you know, Obama for the last 10, 20, 15 years or whatever. So you know, I can't say what was going on through his mind. I know one of the things that is happening that's doing a disservice, you know, to the country and to people and for folks who want to have an understanding, it's, you know, what the media is doing with this. It's just so sensational. And to constantly, continually run, you know, two or three seconds, you know, of a 30-minute message, you know, does a tremendous disservice to people's understanding, you know?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I — I believe, sir...
CLOYD: And in an effort to gain ratings, in an effort to sensationalize, in an effort to hype this, that, you know, a lot of the stations, and particularly this one included, is just really hyping this instead of taking an opportunity to educate America, to help people have a real understanding.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me just — let me just — let me just...
CLOYD: You know, so it just seems like...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... briefly say...
CLOYD: ... the media is really trying to inflame.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? Actually, the inflaming, sir, is what has brought us here because Reverend Wright was inflaming, at least I think, the parish. That's inflaming. This is an exploration of a very important point, whether there is a reverse racism, a racism against whites, that may have some sort of impact on a man who's running for president of the United States. And it's a legitimate area to explore, and that's what we're trying to get to the bottom of.
CLOYD: I don't disagree that it's a legitimate area to explore. But the way in which the media, and seems like particularly this station, is exploring it, you know, is in a way that's very salacious, is not doing a service. I mean, you guys have studied journalism. You all know how to do real journalism.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? You know what the way to resolve this - - just — I think probably the best way is if Reverend Wright would give an in-depth interview to somebody so we could hear it directly from him. And unfortunately, it's — you know...
CLOYD: Well, I feel like — I don't think that he needs to give an in-depth interview. And I can't speak for him and I'm not speaking for him. But you know, he doesn't have to defend this. He said what he said. If it was looked at and examined in its context and in its broader context, you know, if somebody with you guys would really take a look at this, you could understand it. It doesn't need any defending, and it doesn't really need any further explanation because he said it already.
If you would show more than a millisecond or two or three words and then just run off with that in terms of your description, you know, if you guys really would do that, you could do the service to your listeners, those people who want to learn, you would do them a better service.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir. And I just want to make sure I gave you the last word on this. I certainly appreciate you joining us, sir.
CLOYD: All right. Thank you. Good to be here again.
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