ABC's Ross reported Wright's 9-11 remarks -- but not that Obama disavowed them

››› ››› KIRSTIN ELLISON

On Good Morning America, ABC's Brian Ross reported on a 2001 sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama's church, in which Wright made controversial remarks regarding the 9-11 terrorist attacks. While Ross noted that Obama has said that Wright is "like an old uncle, who sometimes says things I don't agree with," at no point did Ross report that Obama has specifically disagreed with Wright's 9-11 remarks.

On the March 13 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross reported that "[i]n his first sermon after September 11, 2001," Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama's church, Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, "said the U.S. had brought on the [9-11 terrorist] attacks with its own terrorism." Ross then aired a clip of Wright saying: "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. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and the black South Africans, and now we are indignant. Because the stuff we have done overseas has now been brought back into our own front yard. America's chickens are coming home to roost." However, while Ross noted at the conclusion of his report that Obama has said that Wright is "like an old uncle, who sometimes says things I don't agree with," at no point did Ross report that when asked about Wright's 9-11 comments in particular, Obama reportedly said, "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification."

The New York Times reported on April 30, 2007:

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."

Provocative Assertions

Such statements involve "a certain deeply embedded anti-Americanism," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. "A lot of people are going to say to Mr. Obama, are these your views?"

Mr. Obama says they are not.

"The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Mr. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attacks, Mr. Obama said, but "it sounds like he was trying to be provocative."

Later in the Good Morning America segment, during an interview with Obama campaign adviser and Christian ethics scholar Shaun Casey, co-anchor Chris Cuomo stated that Wright "is a man who says that America should be damned, that it is to blame for 9/11, that [Nation of Islam leader Louis] Farrakhan deserves an award for epitomizing greatness." In response, Casey noted that Obama has "repudiated those views." Indeed, in addition to disagreeing with Wright's remarks about 9-11, Obama also issued a statement disagreeing with the decision by Trumpet Newsmagazine, of which Wright is the CEO and founder, to give Farrakhan an award. The assertion that Farrakhan "epitomized greatness" was made by Trumpet Newsmagazine managing editor Rhoda McKinney-Jones in an article she wrote about the award; it was not made by Wright.

From the March 13 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

[begin video clip]

ROSS: In his first sermon after September 11, 2001, Reverend Wright said the U.S. had brought on the attacks with its own terrorism.

WRIGHT: 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. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant. Because the stuff we have done overseas has now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.

ROSS: Reverend Wright retired last month, but members of the church say he left a lasting impression on them and Senator Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He spoke the truth, continues to speak the truth, and people can label that as "radical," but I think it's insightful.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, I wouldn't call it "radical," I'd call it being black in America. It's not radical. How radical is that?

[end video clip]

ROSS: Reverend Wright declined to comment or appear on this program, as did Senator Obama. In his most recent appearance in Ohio, when he was asked about it, Senator Obama said that Reverend Wright was "like an old uncle, who sometimes says things I don't agree with" -- Chris.

[...]

CUOMO: But is there a responsibility as a candidate for president to associate yourself, certainly as a spiritual adviser, with ideas that are consistent with your campaign? Senator Obama saying his campaign's about moving away from divisive politics, from sniping and attacks, and then to say your spiritual adviser is a man who says America should be damned, that it is to blame for 9-11, that Farrakhan deserves an award for epitomizing greatness? Does that go together?

CASEY: I think he's repudiated that very clearly. If you had any evidence that, in fact, that Senator Obama had embraced those views, we would have seen that in the piece. But the fact that you didn't have any video of Senator Obama embracing those views; in fact, he's repudiated those views, I think it's very clear. I mean, it's interesting to me, you haven't vetted Hillary Clinton's pastor's sermons; you haven't vetted President Bush's pastor's sermons; you haven't vetted John McCain's pastor's sermons. So you're not holding them to that standard, which I think is very interesting.

CUOMO: And you believe that what the reverend has said doesn't go beyond the pale of what he preaches in terms of religion, it doesn't deserve any more scrutiny than that, it doesn't have anything to do with politics, this is just the media picking on Senator Obama?

CASEY: No, it's fair to ask those questions, but what -- you have to accept Senator Obama's answers, that he repudiates those specific political views on the three or four issues that you've outlined; and I think you have to take his word for that.

Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
Brian Ross, Chris Cuomo
Show/Publication
Good Morning America
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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