The Fox News Channel is now admitting that civil rights leader Jesse Jackson used the word "n—-er" in comments about Barack Obama in front of cameras in Fox News' Chicago bureau. Fox told AP tonight that Jackson said the Democratic presidential candidate was "talking down to black people ... telling n——rs how to behave" (that sentence fragment having first appeared on TVNewser earlier today). A Fox News Channel insider told Gawker nearly a week ago that Jackson had used the n-word, although it's not true, as we were told at the time, that the remarks were directed at Obama. Still, there's no small amount of hypocrisy at work on Jackson's part: He once called for a ban on any use of the slur. Fox's confirmation that Jackson used it himseld comes after Fox spent yesterday issuing carefully-calibrated denials about the incident.
Fox News chief Roger Ailes said in a strongly-worded letter Tuesday that "I can categorically deny" a report that Jacskon called Obama a "half-breed n——r." That denial now looks like a fairly Clintonian, technical parsing of the question, although it did serve to protect Jackson's reputation from the worst of the rumors.
The executive producer of the O'Reilly Factor also denied yesterday (to TV Newser) that Jackson called Obama the n-word. That's true, but the network must have started getting nervous its narrowly-scoped denials would come to look disingenuous.
Fox's Bill O'Reilly last week aired other incendiary comments Jackson made in front of the cameras about Obama, i.e. that he wanted to "cut" the Democratic candidate's "nuts off." But the O'Reilly Factor host said at that time he was witholding other, "more damaging" comments from Jackson because they weren't relevant and "we're not out to make him look bad."
Here's Bill O'Reilly telling his guests last week how high-minded and virtuous the network was for not airing Jackson's complete comments:
We said at the time that "it seems inevitable the cable news channel will have to back up O'Reilly's allegations," and, sure enough, amid mounting rumors that's what's happened.
Fox News says it will not be airing the footage or releasing a transcript, which in light of the network's past flip-flops means it could very well be out by the middle of next week.
Oh, also, Jackson apologized, again, and said this time he's even more sorry. "There really is no justification for my comments and I hope that the Obama family and the American public will forgive me." Then he probably muttered something under his breath about how everyone in Hymietown is out to get him, but there were no cameras around to catch it The End.