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Talk Radio Host Royal Marshall Discusses Rev. Jesse Jackson's Admission of Extramarital Affair

Aired January 18, 2001 - 1:22 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Jesse Jackson told the world today that he had an extramarital affair that produced a daughter, now 20 months old. Reverend Jackson issued a statement when it became clear that a number of the tabloids were about to make the matter front page news -- and you can see it is.

The statement says, in part, "I fully accept responsibility, and I am truly sorry for my actions." Jackson also says he loves the child very much, has given her and her mother emotional and financial support from the beginning.

A voice of moral authority for the United States for decades, Reverend Jackson rallied to defense of President Clinton, you'll recall, during the Lewinsky scandal -- here's a bit of what he had to say at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JESSE JACKSON: I felt really as a minister, as a friend, this is a time for us all to be very prayerful, and I hope that no one seek to find any joy in this practice. The -- this cloud vexed everybody, and we hope and we pray that this cloud will be removed and we will all again bask in the sunshine of America's rule.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Well, as you might imagine, the talk show lines are already buzzing.

And joining me now to talk about that is talk show radio host Royal Marshall. He's a talk show host and a producer at WSB here in Atlanta.

What are you hearing already about all of this?

ROYAL MARSHALL, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, there's two very different opinions. Some people are obviously disappointed by Reverend Jackson's revelations, and then there are a lot of people that feel that he's hypocritical. They feel that since he's a reverend and that he should be above any type of situation such as this that he should not be having children out of wedlock -- after all, people look to him as a role model. But then there's another group of people, that are forgiving -- they're just simply disappointed in Reverend Jackson's actions.

WATERS: Hypocritical in the same way folks thought that Newt Gingrich was hypocritical at the time for condemning President Clinton when he was engaged in somewhat similar activities?

MARSHALL: Yes, but obviously, Jesse Jackson did not condemn President Clinton. Now I'm sure Jesse Jackson had some things to say about Bob Livingston when he tried to replace Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House, and of course, it was revealed that he had too had had some extramarital affairs and he had to resign from that post.

But they're saying that he's hypocritical more because he's a reverend, and we have this sense that as a reverend that you are supposed be -- and I agree -- to call to call to a higher moral authority. And it is a disappointment, but I think, eventually, people will get over it and they will forgive him.

The only silver cloud in this is that -- it's ironic to say -- he's at least paying child support, and that's a good thing -- to the tune of $10,000 a month, as has been reported.

WATERS: Well, he'd have to do that: He says he loves the child, and he's sorry for his actions. But what are we to tell our children about all of this? We went through this with President Clinton, at a time when parents -- who were concerned about tuning on the evening news because of what their children might see. Now we have it again -- as you say, this time it's a reverend. Where is the moral authority?

MARSHALL: Well, I would argue that we really don't have too much of a moral authority in this country anymore, and I don't know that we ever really have had one. We like to present that we have a "moral authority," but our society says everything should be immediate, fast, and don't worry about the consequences until much later -- you know, buy now, pay later. And that's kind of the consensus of a lot of Americans.

But what to tell your children? I would tell -- if I had any children, and I don't -- but I would say that Jesse Jackson is a reverend, but he's also a man, and men are not infallible, men make mistakes -- and the last perfect man to walk the face of the earth, some people would like to say, was Jesus Christ -- and Jesse is not Jesus.

WATERS: Judge not lest you be judged.

MARSHALL: Yes, that's for sure.

WATERS: Royal Marshall, I'm sure this won't go away for awhile. I agree with you it'll eventually go away, but you've got more work to do -- perhaps we'll talk again. Thanks so much.

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