Text of Letter from Wright to the New York Times
March 11, 2007
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York 10036-3959
Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the
truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me
for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of
Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he
was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.
For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two
hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you
how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public
service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for
President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other
whether or not she was going to run.
I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We
talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam
to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it
would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only
knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own
family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only
knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the
Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew
what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches
of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox
Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout
Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed
something other than what he believed.
I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not
just “in word only.” I talked about Barack being a person who lived his
faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person
who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to
hell if they did not believe what he believed.
Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey
and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I
had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would
love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told
you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to
how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like
that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his
grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is
hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.
As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of
conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s
taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it
unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his
candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor
proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound
byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me
to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.
I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before,
and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve
of it and
will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the
integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even
only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to
occupy the Oval Office.
Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me
doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are
going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s
“Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler
Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of
“Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you
in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which
Barack has belonged for over twenty years.
The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered
to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is
even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to
interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet
The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants
to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack
had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did
I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to
worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin”
because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.
Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York
Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have
gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the
Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in
the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New
York Times had actually repented
and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.
Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was
my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever
it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part
of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times.
You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my
face and told me a lie!
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
Trinity United Church of Christ