CBS's Harry Smith 'Sad' Over Jackson's 'Cut His Nuts Off' Comment
By Media Research Center
July 11, 2008
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith reacted to Jesse Jackson's controversial comments about Barack Obama by sympathizing with the left-wing activist: "Honestly to me, as somebody who sat in an Operation Push [Founded by Jesse Jackson] meeting some 30-plus years ago in an old theater in Chicago, hearing this and seeing this, there's something a little sad about it." While Smith was "a little sad" about Jackson wanting to "cut his [Obama's] nuts off," liberal guest Keli Goff observed that Jackson was suffering from "...an illness that I said is plaguing certain aspects of the black community, which I called JNS Syndrome...Jealous Negro Syndrome...I won't call it epidemic because it's only a certain group of people-" Smith then finished her thought: "These guys laid down their lives, or bled the blood, and others are taking-" Goff continued: "Right, right. Are reaping the benefits. You know, the Barack Obamas of the world who've had it, compared to our parents, so easy, in some respects." Apparently Smith "bled the blood" with Jackson and others.
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Smith's other liberal guest, Michael Fauntroy, defended Jackson: "You know, we have this thing going on in the black community where if you're not comprehensively for Obama you're seen as against Obama. And therefore, some legitimate concerns or criticisms that are raised are seen as being jealous or being hateful or not supporting him in the way that he possibly should be." Fauntroy did also explain: "You don't need to use the language that Reverend Jackson did...But you should -- you ought to be able to have honest disagreements with the guy and not be seen as a sell-out or somebody who views -- who is sort of hating on Obama, so to speak."
Later in the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Jackson and challenged him on his comments: Are you sorry that you said it, or are you sorry that it's been heard publicly?...But how do you think he is talking down to black people? Do you feel that he is?...Given the fact that you disagree with how Senator Obama, or the topics that he's choosing for these speeches, do you support him and his campaign?...So I just want to ask you quickly, do you feel that you have hurt this campaign that you say you support unequivocally?...Have you spoken with Senator Obama? Have you apologized personally?
Here are the full transcripts of the 7:02 AM segment and the 8:13 AM interview with Jackson:
JESSE JACKSON: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based...I wanna cut his n-ts off.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Dangerous whispers. Jesse Jackson apologizes but will his crude comments hurt or help Obama?
HARRY SMITH: First though, let's get to our top story this morning, that's the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He has apologized for the firestorm he has created over comments directed against Barack Obama. CBS's Joel Brown has that story.
JESSE JACKSON: If I've done any harm or hurt, for that I have deep regrets.
JOEL BROWN: Jesse Jackson apologizing for crude comments he made Sunday while taping a TV program, comments made when he says he thought the microphones were off, about Obama's speeches at black churches about morality.
JACKSON: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based...I wanna cut his n-ts off. Barack...he's talking down to black people.
BROWN: When Fox News decided to air the tape, Jackson rushed to clarify his position on the likely nominee.
JACKSON: My support for Barack and his policies are long-standing, broad-based and deep and unequivocal. He and Michelle have taken America to another level.
BROWN: For its part, the Obama campaign was swift in its acceptance of Jackson's apology. Joel Brown, CBS News, Washington.
SMITH: Joining us now is Michael Fauntroy, author of 'Republicans and The Black Vote,' and political analyst Keli Goff, author of 'Party Crashing: How the Hip Hop Generation Declared Political Independence.' Good morning to you both.
KELI GOFF: Good morning.
MICHAEL FAUNTROY: Good morning.
SMITH: Yeah Michael, let me start with you. Who does this hurt?
MICHAEL FAUNTROY: I think it hurt Reverend Jackson more so than anyone else. You know, rule number one-
FAUNTROY: Well, I think his reputation has been -- has been in trouble for years among some African-Americans. And this is just one more in a long line of miss steps that he's made, that I think cast him in a very bad light amongst those African-Americans who are in my generation, some of whom -- some of whom view him very differently than those who come from his generation.
SMITH: Yeah. Keli, who does it help?
KELI GOFF: I actually think it helps Barack Obama. Because if anything, the criticism that Jesse Jackson was lodging at him was for the very issue that will help Barack Obama with some conservative and swing voters, specifically him being critical of Barack Obama's comments about the need to take more personal responsibility in the black community. And this is the type of rhetoric. And also, furthermore, the faith-based initiatives, I mean, that's something that's a very big issue, especially when you look at the numbers that younger white evangelicals are becoming increasingly up for grabs in terms of party identification. So, this is good-
FAUNTROY: But Harry, there's a point that heeds to be made, then. And that is, it's my fear that the consternation over Jackson's words obscure what may well be a legitimate controversy -- legitimate criticism and that is with regard to the faith-based initiative. You know, it was sold in black communities as something that would help get more resources in the black communities.
FAUNTROY: And here you look years down the line and you see that really hasn't happened. So I think an argument could be made that less, and not more money, should be put in the faith-based initiative.
FAUNTROY: And I think that's a legitimate criticism.
GOFF: But often we know that the way the message is delivered is just as important as the message itself. And first of all, who knew that ministers talk like that. You know, I mean, how many of us knew that that's -- that's how our pastors talk.
SMITH: And there's no such thing as a microphone that's off though, either.
SMITH: Nobody doesn't know that.
GOFF: Right, well that's what's sort of-
SMITH: Honestly to me, as somebody who sat in an Operation Push meeting some 30-plus years ago in an old theater in Chicago, hearing this and seeing this, there's something a little sad about it.
GOFF: It is. It's extremely sad, it's extremely sad. You know, I wrote a piece after the whole Reverend Wright debacle at the National Press Club that we're all very familiar with for the Daily Voice in which I diagnosed Reverend Wright with an illness that I said is plaguing certain aspects of the black community, which I called JNS Syndrome-
SMITH: Which is?
GOFF: Jealous Negro Syndrome. Which is very unfortunately -- Michael touched on something that is sort of a largely unspoken but sad, I won't call it epidemic because it's only a certain group of people-
SMITH: These guys laid down their lives, or bled the blood, and others are taking-
GOFF: Right, right. Are reaping the benefits. You know, the Barack Obamas of the world who've had it, compared to our parents, so easy, in some respects.
SMITH: Michael does that ring true at all to you?
FAUNTROY: Yeah, but there's a part of me that sort of resents that as well. You know, we have this thing going on in the black community where if you're not comprehensively for Obama you're seen as against Obama. And therefore, some legitimate concerns or criticisms that are raised are seen as being jealous or being hateful or not supporting him in the way that he possibly should be. And I think that's unfortunate. We ought to have a position or a point where you can have honest disagreements. You don't need to use the language that Reverend Jackson did.
FAUNTROY: But you should -- you ought to be able to have honest disagreements with the guy and not be seen as a sell-out or somebody who views -- who is sort of hating on Obama, so to speak.
SMITH: Got you. One would think anyway. Michael thank you so much. Keli Goff good to see you too.
FAUNTROY: No problem.
SMITH: Do appreciate it.
GOFF: Thank you.
HARRY SMITH: Still ahead, the always controversial Jesse Jackson. We'll talk to him live in just a couple seconds.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The Reverend Jesse Jackson has made a public apology to Barack Obama for comments he made in a television studio on Sunday, when he thought the microphone was off.
JESSE JACKSON: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based...I wanna cut his n-ts off.
RODRIGUEZ: The Reverend Jesse Jackson is with us this morning from Indianapolis. Good morning to you, Reverend Jackson.
JESSE JACKSON: Good morning to you.
RODRIGUEZ: Are you sorry that you said it, or are you sorry that it's been heard publicly?
JACKSON: Well, that I said it. In part because I'm such a fervent supporter of the campaign and the message, and the messenger as a matter of fact. And so I have a great passion for the campaign and for the redemptive moment it represents. On the other hand, I have anxiety about the faith-based thrust and its limitations unless it's really expanded, which I think Barack does, but the media may have less interest in it. For example, if you have a faith-based program for day care, the parents are unemployed, are facing home foreclosures and plants are closing, the government-based and private sector initiative to go along with the faith-based initiative. And so that is a -- that's a valid concern.
RODRIGUEZ: But how do you think he is talking down to black people? Do you feel that he is?
JACKSON: I really don't. I think the limitation I have if you go to a given church and focus on responsibility, well that is a very universal issue-
RODRIGUEZ: So, why did you say that if you don't think he is?
JACKSON: Let me make my point. Whether he is in a black church or whether you're in a labor union hall, we all must share responsibility. But that limited message must address the structural crisis in urban America where you have the highest infant mortality rate, the shortest life expectancy. Most children's school teachers are less than three years experience. The amazing murder rate because of free-flow of guns. So there really is beyond faith-based and very heavy government lifting that must be done.
RODRIGUEZ: And you don't think he's doing that?
JACKSON: Well, I think it needs to be more visible. If you've talked to Barack as I have, he has very definite plans about -- that reinvest in America. But the emphasis must be that and the media must be sensitive to the issue just beyond personal responsibility because we all believe in that because we need faith to get us up in the morning and the hope to sustain us. But we need the substance to go along with it. At a time when bridges are collapsing-
RODRIGUEZ: Have you mentioned this to Senator Obama?
JACKSON: -When bridges are falling and levees are collapsing, we need, in fact, serious economic investment. It's not enough to end the war in Iraq, we must also reinvest in America. Now, that really is my passionate appeal, frankly.
RODRIGUEZ: Given the fact that you disagree with how Senator Obama, or the topics that he's choosing for these speeches, do you support him and his campaign?
JACKSON: Unequivocally. Let me make it very clear that you need the faith. I mean, faith is the substance of things hopeful. And so you need the faith. But you also need the substance. And that's where, if we're going to deal with structural inequality, that's going to require investment. Faith does not require an investment, nor does hope. But substance does. And of course I think he'll be surrounded by people along with his own vision to engage in the reinvestment. How can we ignore Katrina? How can we ignore cities overrun in downtown Illinois and Missouri-
RODRIGUEZ: You've already explained this, Reverend Jackson. So I just want to ask you quickly, do you feel that you have hurt this campaign that you say you support unequivocally?
JACKSON: Well, I certainly hope not. And that's why I was quick to respond and he was quick to respond very generously as well. So our relationship is intact and good news, the campaign is intact and we look forward to this magnificent redemptive transformative moment in Denver and beyond. But to regain this nation we must change the course and substance and direction and now.
RODRIGUEZ: Have you spoken with Senator Obama? Have you apologized personally?
JACKSON: We talked with his campaign yesterday, but we talk quite often because of a long-standing friendship.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank you very much.
JACKSON: Thank you.