Jeremiah Wright controversy

Jeremiah Wright controversy

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Encyclopedia
The Jeremiah Wright controversy is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 political issue that gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

, after reviewing dozens of U.S. 2008 Presidential Election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

 candidate Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

's pastor Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. is Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ , a megachurch in Chicago exceeding 6,000 members...

's sermons, excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny. Wright is a retired senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ is a predominantly black church with more than 8,500 members, located on the southwest side of Chicago. It is the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white Christian denomination with roots in Congregationalism, which branched...

 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 and former pastor of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Barack Obama. Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled "A More Perfect Union
A More Perfect Union (speech)
"A More Perfect Union" is the name of a speech delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 in the course of the contest for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination...

", in which he sought to place Dr. Wright's comments in a historical and sociological context. In the speech, Obama again denounced Wright's remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club. After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was "outraged" and "saddened" by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church.

Background


Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 first met Wright in the late 1980s, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 before attending Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

. Wright officiated at the wedding ceremony of Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as their children's baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

s.

The title of Obama's 2006 memoir, The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

, was inspired by one of Wright's sermons, which was also a theme of Obama's 2004 keynote address
2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address
The keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was given by then Illinois State Senator, United States Senate candidate , and future President Barack Obama on the night of Tuesday, July 27, 2004...

 to the Democratic National Convention.
Wright was scheduled to give the public invocation
Invocation
An invocation may take the form of:*Supplication or prayer.*A form of possession.*Command or conjuration.*Self-identification with certain spirits....

 before Obama's presidential announcement, but Obama withdrew the invitation the night before the event. Wright wrote a rebuttal letter to the editor disputing the characterization of the account as reported in an article in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

.

In 2007, Wright was appointed to Barack Obama's African American Religious Leadership Committee, a group of over 170 national black religious leaders who supported Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination. However, it was announced in March 2008 that Wright was no longer serving as a member of this group.

On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ is a predominantly black church with more than 8,500 members, located on the southwest side of Chicago. It is the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white Christian denomination with roots in Congregationalism, which branched...

 stating that "Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views".

Controversial sermon excerpts


Most of the controversial excerpts that gained national attention in March 2008 were taken from two sermons: one titled "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall" delivered on September 16, 2001 and another, titled "Confusing God and Government", delivered on April 13, 2003.

"The Day of Jerusalem's Fall"


In a sermon delivered shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Wright made comments about an interview of former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck
Edward Peck
Edward L. Peck is a retired career United States diplomat who served thirty-two-years in the U.S. Foreign Service .-Early life and career:...

 he saw on Fox News. Wright said:

"I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out — did you see him, John? — a white man, he pointed out, ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true — America's chickens are coming home to roost."


Wright spoke of the United States taking land from the Indian tribes
Trail of Tears
The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830...

 by what he labeled as terror, bombing Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

, and Nagasaki, and argued that the United States supported state terrorism
Allegations of state terrorism by the United States
Several scholars have accused the United States of conducting state terrorism. They have written about the liberal democracies and their use of state terrorism, particularly in relation to the Cold War. According to them, state terrorism was used to protect the interest of capitalist elites, and...

 against the Palestinians
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 and South Africa. He said that his parishioners' response should be to examine their relationship with God, not go "from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents." His comment (quoting Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

) that "America's chickens are coming home to roost" was widely interpreted as meaning that America had brought the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 upon itself. ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 broadcast clips from the sermon in which Wright said:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."


Later, Wright continued :

"Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y'all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we have wounded don't have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that."

"Confusing God and Government"


Clips from a sermon that Wright gave, entitled "Confusing God and Government", were also shown on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's Good Morning America
Good Morning America
Good Morning America is an American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network; it debuted on November 3, 1975. The weekday program airs for two hours; a third hour aired between 2007 and 2008 exclusively on ABC News Now...

and Fox News. In the sermon, Wright first makes the distinction between God and governments, and points out that many governments in the past have failed: "Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change." Wright then states:

"[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women. The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie."


He continued:
"The government lied about Pearl Harbor too. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

. Governments lie."


Wright then stated:
"The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, 'Let me make myself perfectly clear...' Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie.... The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie."


He spoke about the government's rationale for the Iraq War
Rationale for the Iraq War
The rationale for the Iraq War has been a contentious issue since the Bush administration began actively pressing for military intervention in Iraq in late 2001. The primary rationalization for the Iraq War was articulated by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress known as the Iraq Resolution.The...

:
"The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don't find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie."


Wright then commented on God and government:
"And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that's in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.."


These sermon excerpts were widely viewed in early 2008 on network television and the internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

.

Barack Obama


When Wright's comments were aired in the national media, Obama distanced himself from them, saying to Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson
Charles deWolf "Charlie" Gibson is a former American broadcast television anchor and journalist. He was a host of Good Morning America from 1987 to 1998 and 1999 to 2006 and anchor of World News with Charles Gibson from 2006 to 2009....

 of ABC News, "It's as if we took the five dumbest things that I've ever said or you've ever said in our lives and compressed them and put them out there — I think that people's reaction would, understandably, be upset." At the same time, Obama stated that "words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue." Obama later added, "Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt as comfortable staying at the church."

Obama stated that he was aware of Pastor Wright's controversial comments, and had personally heard "remarks that could be considered controversial" in Wright's church, but denied having heard the particular inflammatory statements that were widely televised during the campaign. Obama was specifically asked by Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly (political commentator)
William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news television program on American television...

 if Reverend Wright had said white people were bad, to which Obama replied "no." In his book Dreams from my Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

, Obama had quoted Reverend Wright as saying in a sermon "It's this world, where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where White folks' greed runs a world in need." Obama said the remarks had come to his attention at the beginning of his presidential campaign but contended that because Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of Obama's strong links to Trinity, he had not thought it appropriate to leave the church. He began distancing himself from Wright when he called his pastor the night before the February 2007 announcement of Obama's presidential candidacy to withdraw his request that Wright deliver an invocation at the event. A spokesperson later said, "Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church, but... decided to avoid having statements and beliefs being used out of context and forcing the entire church to defend itself." Wright attended the announcement, prayed with Obama beforehand, and in December 2007 Obama named him to the African American Religious Leadership Committee of his campaign. The Obama campaign released Wright after the controversy.

Obama's critics found this response inadequate; Mark Steyn
Mark Steyn
Mark Steyn is a Canadian-born writer, conservative-leaning political commentator, and cultural critic. He has written five books, including America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, a New York Times bestseller...

, writing in the conservative publication National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

, stated: "Reverend Wright['s] appeals to racial bitterness are supposed to be everything President Obama will transcend. Right now, it sounds more like the same-old same-old."

On March 18, in the wake of the controversy, Obama delivered a speech entitled "A More Perfect Union
A More Perfect Union (speech)
"A More Perfect Union" is the name of a speech delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 in the course of the contest for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination...

" at the National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center is an organization that seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the United States Constitution and operates a museum to advance those purposes....

 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. During the course of the 37-minute speech, Obama spoke of the divisions formed through generations through slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

, and Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

, and the reasons for the kinds of discussions and rhetoric used among blacks and whites in their own communities. While condemning the remarks by the pastor, he sought to place them in historical context by describing some of the key events that have formed Wright's views on race-related matters in America. Obama did not disown Wright, whom he has labeled as "an old uncle", as akin to disowning the black community or disowning his white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham was the American maternal grandmother of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States of America...

. The speech was generally well received. Obama said that some of the comments by his pastor reminded him of what he called America's "tragic history when it comes to race."

Other Presidential candidates


In an interview with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, also known as "the Trib," is the second largest daily newspaper serving metropolitan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States...

on March 25, 2008, Hillary Clinton commented on Obama's attendance at Trinity United Church of Christ, stating, "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." Later the same day, during a press conference, Clinton spoke on her personal preference in a pastor: "I think given all we have heard and seen, [Wright] would not have been my pastor." A spokesperson for the Obama campaign asserted that Clinton's comments were part of a "transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia" the prior week. Weeks later during the Pennsylvania debate in Philadelphia, Clinton said, "For Pastor Wright to have given his first sermon after 9/11 and to have blamed the United States for the attack, which happened in my city of New York, would have been just intolerable for me."

Future Republican nominee John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 defended Obama when it came to allegations of guilt by association
Guilt by Association
Guilt by Association can refer to:* Association fallacy - sometimes called "guilt by association".* Guilt by Association Vol. 1 - album by Engine Room Recordings.* Guilt by Association Vol. 2 - album by Engine Room Recordings....

, saying, "I think that when people support you, it doesn't mean that you support everything they say. Obviously, those words and those statements are statements that none of us would associate ourselves with, and I don't believe that Senator Obama would support any of those, as well."

Government officials


Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 weighed in on the Wright matter on April 10, 2008. He appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show and said, "I thought some of the things he said were absolutely appalling... I haven't gotten into the business of trying to judge how Sen. Obama dealt with it, or didn't deal with it, but I think, like most Americans, I was stunned at what the reverend was preaching in his church and then putting up on his Web site."

Lawrence Korb
Lawrence Korb
Lawrence J. Korb , is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Adviser to the Center for Defense Information...

, Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

 and former assistant Secretary of Defense in the administration of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 defended Wright's military service, stating, "We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons. Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should be condemned, but in calling him 'unpatriotic,' let us not forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his country... he has demonstrated his patriotism."

Commentators and pundits


Conservative radio talk show and television host Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity is an American radio and television host, author, and conservative political commentator. He is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show that airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks. Hannity also hosts a cable news show, Hannity,...

 expressed shock and anger when hearing the comments, saying, "First of all, I will not let up on this issue. If his pastor went to Libya, Tripoli with Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, Sr. is the leader of the African-American religious movement the Nation of Islam . He served as the minister of major mosques in Boston and Harlem, and was appointed by the longtime NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad, before his death in 1975, as the National Representative of...

, a virulent, anti-Semitic racist, his church gave a lifetime achievement award to Louis Farrakhan. That's been Barack Obama's pastor for 20 years. And we will continue to expose this until somebody in the mainstream media has the courage to take this on."

Salon.com
Salon.com
Salon.com, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

 editor-in-chief Joan Walsh
Joan Walsh
Joan Maureen Walsh is a liberal editor, writer, and blogger. Since February 2005 she has been the editor-in-chief of Salon.com, a San Francisco-based American liberal politics and culture Web site. She joined Salon as its first full-time news editor in 1998, and became managing editor in 2004...

 wrote, "the whole idea that Wright has been attacked over 'sound bites,' and if Americans saw his entire sermons, in context, they'd feel differently, now seems ludicrous. The long clips Moyers played only confirm what was broadcast in the snippets..." and notes, "My conclusion Friday night was bolstered by new tapes of Wright that came out this weekend, including one that captures him saying the Iraq war is 'the same thing al-Qaida is doing under a different color flag,' and a much longer excerpt from the 'God damn America' sermon that denounces 'Condoskeezer Rice....

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly (commentator)
William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news television program on American television...

 said of Wright, "In my opinion, Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not an honest man. He preaches anti-white and anti-American rhetoric, all the while making money off it."

Democratic strategist Flavia Colgan
Flavia Colgan
Flavia Monteiro Colgan is a Democratic strategist, who is an active political contributor on MSNBC and serves as a special correspondent for Extra. She resides in Los Angeles.-Family:...

 asserted that Obama was not always in church and that the several minutes of soundbites continually played by the media do not equate to twenty years. Colgan also argued that had the media been able to find additional controversial statements beyond the ones they played, they would have played them as well.

Cultural critic Kelefa Sanneh
Kelefa Sanneh
Kelefa T. Sanneh is an American journalist and music critic. From 2000 to 2008, he wrote for the New York Times, covering the rock 'n' roll, hip-hop, and pop music scenes...

 traced Wright's theology and rhetoric back to Frederick Douglass, analyzing his 1854 reference to antebellum US Christians as "bad, corrupt, and wicked."

Noting that "many observers argue that Wright's sermons convey a more complex message than simple sound bites can express," the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

 published lengthy excerpts in an article, "Rev. Jeremiah Wright's words: Sound bite vs. sermon excerpt".

Economist and social commentator Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. A National Humanities Medal winner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a libertarian perspective...

 wrote that there was "no way that [Obama] didn't know about Jeremiah Wright's anti-American and racist diatribes from the pulpit." He wrote that Obama was "no ordinary member" of the church, having once donated $20,000 to it, and that Obama's speech was "like the Soviet show trials during their 1930s purges", intended only to convince supporters.
Commentary on media coverage

The controversy sparked continuous media coverage, on both national media outlets and local sources. More than 3,000 news stories had been written on the issue by early April.

Wright's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, criticized the media coverage of his past sermons, saying in a statement that Wright's "character is being assassinated in the public sphere.... It is an indictment on Dr. Wright's ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite."

Lara Cohen, news director at the Us Weekly
Us Weekly
Us Weekly is a celebrity gossip magazine, founded in 1977 by The New York Times Company, who sold it in 1980. It was acquired by Wenner Media in 1986. The publication covers topics ranging from celebrity relationships to the latest trends in fashion, beauty, and entertainment...

, noted that her publication "has been accused of distracting people from the 'Important Issues because of its focus on Supermarket tabloid concerns, and said that mainstream media "talking heads love to tut-tut about how attention to celebrity gossip is causing the great dumbing-down of American society." She charged that, in light of the sensationalized coverage about Wright, mainstream media outlets no longer had grounds to make these criticisms of Us Weekly, and turned the charge back upon the mainstream media. Cohen stated, "The true hallmark of sensationalized journalism is ginning up controversy to drive sales, and for the mainstream news media Wright was a tailor-made tabloid icon. With newspaper sales at record lows, network news ratings tanking and 24-hour news channels desperate to fill up all 24 hours, Wright's outbursts were the mainstream media's equivalent of Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch—a train wreck no one could turn away from. And so they milked it, regardless of the impact on the very race they were supposedly covering objectively."

Republican commentator and former National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

 staff member Lt. Col. Oliver North
Oliver North
Oliver Laurence North is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, political commentator, host of War Stories with Oliver North on Fox News Channel, a military historian, and a New York Times best-selling author....

 (whom Wright mentioned in his controversial comments) said of the controversy's media coverage, "Rather than serving up more blather about Jeremiah Wright, editors, producers and program directors would better serve us all by sending their commentators and correspondents out to cover those who have volunteered to serve in our military."

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

 satirized what he portrayed as the media's obsession with the Wright story. Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian...

 similarly made fun of the media's obsession with Wright, calling it their "Festival of Wrights" and the "Reverending Story."

Investigative journalist Robert Parry
Robert Parry
Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press on the Iran-Contra story and uncovered Oliver North's involvement in it as a Washington-based correspondent for Newsweek. In 1995, he...

 contrasted the mainstream media's attention to Wright with its almost total silence on the topic of South Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon is the Korean founder and leader of the worldwide Unification Church. He is also the founder of many other organizations and projects...

 and his relationship with the Republican Party and especially the Bush family
Bush family
The Bush family is a prominent American family. Along with many members who have been successful bankers and businessmen, across three generations the family includes two U.S. Senators, one Supreme Court Justice, two Governors, one Vice President and two Presidents...

.

On July 20, 2010, the political commentary website The Daily Caller
The Daily Caller
The Daily Caller is a news website based in Washington, D.C., United States, with a focus on politics, original reporting and breaking news, founded by journalist and political pundit Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, former adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney...

 reported that a group of reporters and columnists for major periodicals who were a part of the JournoList
JournoList
JournoList was a private Google Groups forum for discussing politics and the news media with 400 "left-leaning"...

 listserv
LISTSERV
LISTSERV was the first electronic mailing list software application, consisting of a set of email addresses for a group in which the sender can send one email and it will reach a variety of people...

 had secretly worked together to devise a strategy to minimize the damage to the Barack Obama campaign by depicting as racists those political or media figures who attempted to make Wright an issue in the campaign. This was explicitly discussed as a strategy to keep the right from maintaining control of the country.

Trinity United Church of Christ members


Lisa Miller in Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

reported that, before the political controversy erupted, "Trinity was already in the throes of a difficult generational transition." After the period of Wright's speaking engagements before national audiences, Miller describes how "the reaction was anguish and anger" among church members and that three basic factions developed among them: those who wished Wright would not speak anymore, those who believed in what he said, and those who just wished the whole controversy would go away.

Academia


Many academics commented on Wright, black theology
Black theology
Black theology refers to a variety of Black theologies which have as their base the liberation of the marginalized, especially the injustice done towards Blacks in American and South African contexts...

, and the concomitant political controversy within a broader context of American history and culture.

In 2004, prior to the Wright controversy, Anthony E. Cook, a professor of law at Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

, provided a detailed comparative analysis of sermons delivered after 9-11 by Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell
Jerry Lamon Falwell, Sr. was an evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and a conservative commentator from the United States. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia...

, T.D. Jakes and Jeremiah Wright. Cook noted that the overall intent of Falwell's and Jakes's sermons was to use the Christian religion as a justification for the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, while Wright's overall intent was to side against war and to get listeners to engage in introspection about their daily behavior and relationship with God.

After the political controversy erupted, Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 professor Michael Eric Dyson stated, "Patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 is the affirmation of one's country in light of its best values, including the attempt to correct it when it's in error. Wright's words are the tough love of a war-tested patriot speaking his mind." J. Kameron Carter, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity School
Duke Divinity School
The Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina is one of thirteen seminaries founded and supported by the United Methodist Church. It has 39 full time and 18 part time faculty and over 500 full time students. The current dean of The Divinity School is Richard B. Hays, who replaced...

, stated that Wright "voiced in his sermons a pain that must be interpreted inside of the tradition of black prophetic Christianity."

Martin E. Marty, an emeritus professor of religious history, criticized reporters' "naiveté" about the civil rights movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

  He placed Wright's comments in context of his church: "For Trinity, being 'unashamedly black' does not mean being 'anti-white', and noted that black shame
Black shame
Black shame is a term used to describe how some people of African descent view themselves among societies in which they are a minority and feel oppressed...

 was a debilitating legacy of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 in society and church. Marty also argued that Trinity's Africentrism "should not be more offensive than that synagogues should be 'Judeo-centric' or that Chicago's Irish parishes be 'Celtic-centric'."

Bill J. Leonard, Dean of the divinity school and professor of church history at Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private, coeducational university in the U.S. state of North Carolina, founded in 1834. The university received its name from its original location in Wake Forest, north of Raleigh, North Carolina, the state capital. The Reynolda Campus, the university's main campus, is...

, argued that Wright "was standing and speaking out of the jeremiad
Jeremiad
A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall....

 tradition of preaching in the U.S.," which he said "dates back to the Puritans" and that both "black and white ministers have used since the 1600s in this country." Leonard explains that the jeremiad tradition dealt with woe and promise and moral failure not only in the church but in the nation." James B. Bennett of Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a private, not-for-profit, Jesuit-affiliated university located in Santa Clara, California, United States. Chartered by the state of California and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, it operates in collaboration with the Society of Jesus , whose...

, says Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 shared similar feelings with Wright concerning some U.S. activities, quoting King as saying, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government," and that "America was founded on genocide, and a nation that is founded on genocide is destructive."

Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop professor of history at Harvard, and Abigail Thernstrom
Abigail Thernstrom
Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative political scientist, is a former Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and vice chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She received her Ph.D...

, political scientist and the vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote that "[Wright] contended that blacks and whites had completely different brain structures, one left-dominant
Left Brain
Left Brain, born Vyron Dalyan Turner, is an American record producer, rapper, and photographer from Los Angeles. He serves as one of the main producers in OFWGKTA, having produced portions on nearly all Odd Future releases...

, the other right-dominant. This is nothing more than an updated version of the pseudo-science once used to defend segregation in the Jim Crow South," and "clearly, Rev. Wright does not speak for mainstream black churches — and he has done them a gross disservice by claiming to do so." Former Harvard lecturer Martin Peretz
Martin Peretz
Martin H. "Marty" Peretz , is an American publisher. Formerly an assistant professor at Harvard University, he purchased The New Republic in 1974 and took editorial control soon afterwards. He retained majority ownership until 2002, when he sold a two-thirds stake in the magazine to two financiers...

 concurred, endorsing the article and saying that it "puts Trinity into its proper place in relation to other black churches and shows how different it is from them."

Subsequent Jeremiah Wright appearances


The Rev. Jeremiah Wright publicly discussed the controversy in depth in an hour-long interview with Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public...

 on April 25, 2008. This included longer clips of his sermons, along with his explanations of what he was saying. There were also clips of his ministry and parishioners at various points in time since he became pastor in 1972, in an attempt to show what Trinity stands for and has accomplished. Wright stated that his comments were "taken out of context" and that "the persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly." He went on to say: "When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public, that's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from the New York Times
Maureen Dowd
Maureen Bridgid Dowd is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, she worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news as well as sports and wrote feature articles...

 called me, a 'wackadoodle'... The message that is being communicated by the soundbites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate." Conservative pundits and PBS's ombudsman
Ombudsman
An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

 criticized Moyers for being too gentle on Wright.

On April 27, Wright gave a keynote address at a fundraising dinner for the Detroit-chapter of the NAACP. In front of nearly 10,000, he discussed the controversy, saying, "I am not running for the Oval Office," referring to what he perceived as Republican attempts to make the controversy part of the campaign. Earlier that day, he delivered a sermon to 4000 at the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. On April 28, he spoke to the National Press Club, where he discussed the Black church.

In his speech to the NAACP, Wright speculated that, "Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style. They have a different way of learning." The comments were labeled as racist, and likened to eugenics
Eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

. This initiated a revival of the controversy, which had been slowly waning.

Former aide to President Ronald Reagan David Gergen
David Gergen
David Richmond Gergen is an American political consultant and former presidential advisor who served during the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. He is currently Director of the Center for Public Leadership and a professor of public service at Harvard Kennedy School. Gergen is...

 called Wright's speaking tour "the dumbest, most selfish, most narcissistic thing I've seen in 40 years of covering politics." Libertarian commentator Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Michael Sullivan is an English author, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative. He has focused on American political life....

 said Wright's comments on the tour were a "calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard." Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is a U.S. Republican Party politician who served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995 and as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999....

 characterized Wright's speaking tour as an attempt to deliberately hurt Obama, and stated that Wright's sense of self-importance appeared to be his motivation. Columnist Bob Herbert
Bob Herbert
Robert “Bob” Herbert is an American journalist op-ed columnist who wrote for The New York Times. His column was syndicated to other newspapers around the country. Herbert frequently writes on poverty, the Iraq war, racism and American political apathy towards race issues...

 of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

also suggested that Wright was being a "narcissist" and trying to "wreck" Obama's campaign.

Obama's response


Obama attempted to further distance himself from Wright, as he expressed outrage and shock at a press conference on April 29:

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday... The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.... What became clear to me is that he was presenting a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for, and what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that I am about trying to bridge gaps and I see the commonality in all people. ...[A]fter seeing Reverend Wright's performance, I felt as if there was a complete disregard for what the American people are going through and the need for them to rally together to solve these problems. ...[W]hatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed, as a consequence of this."

Reaction


Obama's second statement on the controversy elicited a range of responses. Noam Scheiber of the New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, wrote, "I thought Obama put the distance he needed to between himself and Wright just now...The other lingering question is whether people will wonder all over again how Obama could have been friends with this guy for 20 years. It's a legitimate concern, but if it didn't weigh him down too much after the Philadelphia speech in March, I wouldn't expect it to do him in this time. Wright's 'performance' yesterday struck me as new and brazen enough to warrant a different reaction than Obama would have had in the past." Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor, notable as a scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets...

 wrote, "Obama, by what he wrote in his memoirs, by what he said when he spoke in his early campaign speeches, by his frequent praise of Wright, and by his 20-year presence in front of, and subsidies to, Obama knew exactly the racist and anti-American nature of his odious pastor." American linguist and social commentator John McWhorter
John McWhorter
John Hamilton McWhorter V is an American linguist and political commentator. He is the author of a number of books on language and on race relations. His linguistic specialty is creole and the process through which it forms.-Early life:...

 wrote, "now that the Reverend Wright has gone on tour and given us full doses of these professionally alienated postures from another time, it is good to see that Mr. Obama has had the courage to decisively break with him. Sad, too — the man was his pastor, after all. But here is one more way that Mr. Obama is learning what hardball really is."

Obama leaves Trinity United Church of Christ



On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ is a predominantly black church with more than 8,500 members, located on the southwest side of Chicago. It is the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white Christian denomination with roots in Congregationalism, which branched...

, where Wright had previously served as senior pastor, stating that "Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views".

Later impact and continuing controversy


Wright stated in a June 10, 2009 interview that he had still voted for Obama for President, despite the controversy. He said that he had no regrets about any of his comments. He also alleged that "them [sic] Jews" within the Obama administration are preventing the two from speaking to each other. He also suggested that Obama did not send a delegation to the Durban Review Conference
Durban Review Conference
The Durban Review Conference is the official name of the 2009 United Nations World Conference Against Racism , also known as Durban II. The conference ran from Monday 20 April to Friday 24 April 2009, and took place at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland...

 in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, because of Jewish pressure, saying: "[T]he Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote, that's controlling him, that would not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that's talking this craziness on this trip, cause they're Zionists, they would not let him talk to someone who calls a spade what it is."

The Anti Defamation League released a statement condemning Wright's remarks as "inflammatory and false. The notions of Jewish control of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 in Reverend Wright's statement express classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form." Writing for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic and blogs on its website. Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and Time. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, O, and other publications...

 characterized Wright's remarks as "crude conspiratorial antisemitism." Rabbi Scott Gurdin at Temple Sinai said Wright "is missing an opportunity to build alliances and bridges." The National Jewish Democratic Council
National Jewish Democratic Council
The National Jewish Democratic Council works as lobbying organization for the country of Israel in the United States of America and the Democratic Party and its mission is to promote pro-Israeli policies within the Party, and to promote the Democratic Party within the jewish community.The NJDC is...

 distributed a statement reading, "Obama showed good judgment in strongly separating himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright".

Wright modified his statements the next day, saying that "I'm not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I'm talking about Zionists." He also endorsed the anti-Zionist books Judaism Does Not Equal Israel by Marc Ellis
Marc H. Ellis
Marc H. Ellis is an American author, liberation theologian, and University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University.-Biography:...

 and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is a controversial book about the 1948 Palestinian exodus authored by Ilan Pappé and published in 2006 by Oneworld Publications.Ilan Pappé is one of the New Historians...

by Ilan Pappe
Ilan Pappé
Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist...

. He commented, "[e]thnic cleansing the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity, and they don't want Barack talking like that". Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Mark Goldberg is an American journalist. He is an author and a staff writer for The Atlantic, having previously worked for The New Yorker. Goldberg writes principally on foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East and Africa...

 remarked that "In other words... [h]e regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism." On June 11, classical historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor, notable as a scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets...

 compared Wright's ongoing criticisms of Obama to that of the Furies of Greek Mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

.

Wright wrote on his Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 page apologizing for his remarks on June 12. He wrote, "I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration... I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition." He also stated, "I love President Obama as my son, and support and honor him as the President of the United States of America and leader of the free world." Reverend Amos Brown, a former San Francisco supervisor and pastor of the Third Baptist Church, has defended Wright and disputed charges of anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. He said, "[p]eople hear snippets of things and they go running with it rather than sitting down and having a dialogue, the way Jesus engaged people".

Opinion polling


In mid-March, a Rasmussen Reports
Rasmussen Reports
Rasmussen Reports is an American media company that publishes and distributes information based on public opinion polling. Founded by pollster Scott Rasmussen in 2003, the company updates daily indexes including the President's job approval rating, and provides public opinion data, analysis, and...

 national telephone poll of voters found that just 8% had a favorable opinion of Jeremiah Wright and 58% had an unfavorable view. 73% of voters believed that Wright's comments were divisive, while 29% of African-Americans said Wright's comments made them more likely to support Obama. 66% of those polled had read, seen, or heard news stories about Wright's comments.

During these events, Clinton briefly took the lead in the Gallup national tracking poll, ahead of Obama by 7 points on March 18. By March 20, Clinton's lead decreased to 2 points, a statistically insignificant
Statistical significance
In statistics, a result is called statistically significant if it is unlikely to have occurred by chance. The phrase test of significance was coined by Ronald Fisher....

 amount. The same day, John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 took a 3 point lead over both Democratic candidates in hypothetical General Election match ups, with a 2 point margin of error. By March 22, Obama had regained his lead over Clinton and was up by 3 points. The editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll said that the effect of the controversy "died after a couple of days".

A CBS poll taken from March 15 to March 17 found that sixty-five percent of registered voters said it made no difference in their view of Obama, while thirty percent said it made them have a less favorable view.

At the end of March 2008, as over 40 states had already held their Democratic primary processes, Barack Obama built on his national Gallup daily tracking poll results to become the first candidate to open a double-digit lead since Super Tuesday, when his competitor Hillary Clinton had a similar margin. On March 30 the poll showed Obama at 52% and Clinton at 42%. The Rassmussen Reports poll, taken during the same time frame, showed an Obama advantage of five points. These polls followed weeks of heavy campaigning and heated rhetoric from both camps, and another late-March poll found Obama maintaining his positive rating and limiting his negative rating, better than his chief rival Clinton, even considering Obama's involvement in controversy during the period. The NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 and Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama losing two points of positive rating and gaining four points of negative rating, while Clinton lost eight points of positive rating and gained five points of negative rating.

Following the revival of the controversy surrounding Wright in late April 2008, several polls showed that Obama's image among voters had suffered. According to a poll taken by the Gallup Organization, Obama's nationwide favorable rating dropped from 50% to 45% while his challenger for the nomination, Hillary Clinton's, rating rose to 49%. In this poll, McCain edged Obama by four percentage points in general election match ups, while Clinton was tied with McCain. As of May 5, a Gallup poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters showed Obama with a 5% lead over Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

In poll data released 3 May 2008 from The New York Times and CBS News
CBS News
CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. The current chairman is Jeff Fager who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes, while the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes. CBS News' flagship program is the CBS Evening News, hosted by the network's main...

, Obama's favorable/unfavorable rating among white Democrats remained the same from last summer. During the same period, Hillary Clinton's unfavorable rating among black Democrats increased by 36 percentage points. The Times theorized that the opinion shift among blacks was due to tactics of the Clinton campaign labelled 'racially tinged' by many vocal elements within the media, including the alleged 'amplifying' by Hillary Clinton of the Wright affair at numerous times.

Comparisons with other candidates


Several commentators have drawn comparisons between the media's treatment of Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright with the treatment of political candidates who ally themselves with white religious leaders who have made controversial statements. These critics said that John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 actively sought the recommendation of John Hagee
John Hagee
John Charles Hagee is an American founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational charismatic megachurch with more than 19,000 active members...

, who has been criticized for anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim statements and has described Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 as "the judgment of God on the city of New Orleans" for the city's "level of sin" (specifically a planned gay pride march). E. J. Dionne
E. J. Dionne
Eugene Joseph "E.J." Dionne, Jr. is an American journalist and political commentator, and a long-time op-ed columnist for The Washington Post...

 of the Washington Post contended that white religious leaders who make controversial statements often maintain their political influence. He specifically mentioned the remarks of Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell
Jerry Lamon Falwell, Sr. was an evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and a conservative commentator from the United States. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia...

 and Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson
Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is a media mogul, television evangelist, ex-Baptist minister and businessman who is politically aligned with the Christian Right in the United States....

, who agreed that gays, feminists and liberals shared the blame for the 9/11 attacks, but faced no calls for denunciation by politicians with whom they had relationships. Frank Rich
Frank Rich
Frank Rich is an American essayist and op-ed columnist who wrote for The New York Times from 1980, when he was appointed its chief theatre critic, until 2011...

 of the New York Times wrote that Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani
Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....

's relationship with Monsignor Alan Placa
Alan Placa
Monsignor Alan Placa is a priest in good standing employed by Giuliani Partners, a management consulting and security consulting business founded by high school friend Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor....

 had gained little media attention. (Placa is a longtime friend of Giuliani and performed his second wedding; Giuliani hired him to work in his consulting firm after Placa was barred from his priestly duties due to sexual abuse allegations.) Conservative commentator John Podhoretz
John Podhoretz
John Podhoretz is an American neoconservative columnist for the New York Post, the editor of Commentary magazine, the author of several books on politics, and a former presidential speechwriter.-Life and career:...

 said that the comparison of Wright with Hagee was "entirely specious", because Obama had a longstanding relationship with Wright and McCain has no personal relationship with Hagee. Dionne and Rich acknowledged this point, but also suggested that a double standard
Double standard
A double standard is the unjust application of different sets of principles for similar situations. The concept implies that a single set of principles encompassing all situations is the desirable ideal. The term has been used in print since at least 1895...

exists for white religious leaders and black religious leaders.