Did Obama call Kanye a jackass?

September 15, 2009

President Barack Obama reportedly didn’t approve of rapper Kanye West’s antics at the MTV Video Music Awards.

We may never know the full details — Obama’s remarks were off the record — but the word “jackass” evidently came into play.

UPDATE: TMZ has the audio.

Kanye West hijacked teen country star Taylor Swift’s moment in the spotlight at the MTV award show, and was booed loudly when he leaped on stage and grabbed the microphone from Swift, 19, as she was accepting the trophy for best female pop video.

MUSIC-MTV/EUROPEThe president discussed the incident while being taped for a CNBC interview on Monday. ABC correspondent Terry Moran was allowed to review the president’s remarks.

He then wrote on Twitter:

Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a “jackass” for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT’S presidential.

The Twitter comment has since been deleted, but Politico has a screenshot.

ABC told Politico: “In the process of reporting on remarks by President Obama that were made during a CNBC interview, ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview. This was done before our editorial process had been completed. That was wrong. We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that it will not happen again.”

Here’s the Kanye incident at the VMAs:

West has apologized repeatedly for the incident, most recently Monday night on “The Jay Leno Show.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Phil Noble (West and singer Estelle perform in England in November 2008 in front of projected picture of Obama, then president-elect)

68 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

i agree with the president on this issue

Posted by Betina | Report as abusive

I didnt hear him apologize Did you? Looks like it was a publicity stunt for him

Posted by white man | Report as abusive

HOW COULD SOMEONE DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AND SPOIL ANOTHERS MOMENT. WHAT WAS HE THINKING? NO ONE CARES ABOUT WHAT HE HAD TO SAY, HOW IGNORANT HE WAS TO MAKE TAYLOR FEEL SO BAD. HOW WOULD HE HAVE LIKED IT IF THAT WAS DONE TO HIM?

Posted by PATTY | Report as abusive

Well kanye did compare himself to GOD!

“Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people!”

Posted by Kanye | Report as abusive

At least he seems remorseful. I am not a Kanye fan and probably never will be. I don’t think what he did was purposely “Mean-Spirited,” just another example of Bad-Judgment.

Posted by Rob Wage | Report as abusive

I think it is a shame that a grown man or who thinks he a man who do such a thing to a young woman her dream was made true because of people like myself. All I can say Mr.K is the fans made you and the fans can break you.So your little half ass sorrys just dont cut it in my book. Why dont you have a great day.

Kanye is a no-talent ass clown, regardless of his childish behavior – a perfect example of what has gone wrong with the music industry today.

Posted by studioexec | Report as abusive

Whydon’t we take he euphemism of ‘bad judgment’ away and call a spade a spade; the man is a jack-ass, a completely self-indulgent primadonna who has no awareness and little intelligence. His gift is to rap, usually oher people’s words at that. While it’s a talent I’m sure, he is not an artist, nor much of a human being in any sense other than pettiness and maliciousness. But I guess all that adds to his ‘street cred’ because his followers will justify it all by suggesting “he just does what he thinks is right and means well”. Well the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. I hope he never gets to make another record again.

Posted by the Shah | Report as abusive

Obama said it right! The *real* way to hurt Kayne: boycott him — if he makes $0, then the JA will get what he so richly deserves!!

Posted by MadAsHell | Report as abusive

he acts like he’s a 16 yr old kid.

Really tired of his whole gimmick, people in music have moved on from this guy a long, long time ago.

Posted by david | Report as abusive

Kanye is one of the most worthless individuals I have ever had the displeasure of watching…….and that’s putting it mildly.

Posted by Tatz | Report as abusive

Well said he is a jack ass,no difference than wilson? very disruptive.out of respect.

Posted by mohamed | Report as abusive

The only thing worse than hubris is envy. Kanye displayed both. He is right about taking some time off. Maybe he could do some missionary work and realize how fortunate he is. Maybe he should trail a middle class man/woman who owns a small business for a month and find out what it takes to make a living for millions of Americans. If he could not sing where would he be? In prison? In any event he should never be allowed back into the MTV VMA show again.

As far as the President’s remark. Big deal it is off the record and he said what most of us were thinking or saying in our living rooms.

Lets talk about Health Care and our Civil Rights. Both are in jeopardy. With Gov’t executive power growing beyond control, we may become the next Venesuala. Stop Gov’t spending and grab for power. Go to the next tea party.

Posted by M. Sulli | Report as abusive

Nice that Jay played the “mom” card. Kanye had no retort other than he “was in the wrong”. Kudos to Beyonce for her class in the situation!

Posted by Allan | Report as abusive

The president just joined every other sane human being in the world today. Way to go!

Posted by Vic De Zen | Report as abusive

well now the right has nothing to complain anymore. Kanye apologized, so then everything is fine and dandy. that is pretty much how they operate — you f*** up, get some flack about it. you apologize and then go back to normal day to day business. kanye just follows such illustrious examples like Wilson, Cheney, Bush …

Posted by Carsten | Report as abusive

Beyonce has Kanye whipped.

Posted by Hennessy | Report as abusive

I don’t agree with the president on many things but this is one time I can say “Way to Go President Obama!” You are right on this one!

If you think about it Kayne is one person in ten years no one will ever think about or talk about. His music is garbage and is absolutely not a person one would want their child to grow up to be like. He is an embarrassment to his race and the music industry.

Posted by Macon | Report as abusive

Please stop typing at all, to this site or any other, if you can’t turn off caps lock, spell words correctly, and use proper grammar. Just turn off your computer and walk away.

Open your eyes, people. The VMAs have been doing this stuff for years, mostly with Slim Shady. Wanna know how many hits these videos have gotten? How many hits the websites for the VMAs, Kanye, and Taylor Swift have gotten over the last few hours? The whole thing is just a way to make people tune into reruns of an award show that no one cares about. Get a grip.

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

god don’t like ugly .this id where carma comes in. What would your mother say

Posted by AMY | Report as abusive

I feel bad his mother died in 2007 but cmon >>>
how long are we going to use exuses.
Are we suppose to feel bad for him and beg him not to take a break…what a loser Take a good long break

Posted by Kris | Report as abusive

i think the president is doing to much tv.

Posted by joe | Report as abusive

Who’s Kanye West?

Posted by Winston | Report as abusive

“If you can’t do, then shamelessly interrupt someone else who can.”

Posted by Juls | Report as abusive

If any of you caught the interview between Kanye and Jay Leno, Jay dropped in some heavy handed gulit by asking Kanye what would your mother say about his actions. At that moment, the humilified guilt ridden face of disappointment on Kanye’s face, had to take him to a place of disgust. What his face expressed at that time was a indeed an embarassing teachable moment for Kanye.

Beyonce is the woman of the year. She really turned this whole incident around with her giving up her moment of honor. Like the saying goes only woman know how to make it right.

Funny how a man that is so lyrically gifted stumbles over words when it comes to an apology.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

… and his comments show Kanye doesn’t care about people!

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Kanye West doesn’t get it. Performing music isn’t JUST about getting awards. It’s about creativity and being able to do something you love–and get paid for it! The awards are all he seems to care about. I think the president was going easy on West.

Posted by Charley | Report as abusive

Don’t bother boycotting him, Obama would just give him a federal bailout

Posted by Rhino | Report as abusive

Well, I guess this is the “change we can believe in” .. it used to be that people, even entertainers, had some decency and respect for others. Now … it’s only “me .. me .. me”

Posted by ByGeorge | Report as abusive

You can buy or learn class. Kayne has just won the “Presidential Jackasz Award” Congrats Kayne.

Posted by common-man | Report as abusive

You know, before this, I hadn’t even heard of this asshat. And I’m sorry, but turning that around on himself, saying he needs to just take time off and spouting about what a celeb he is is NOT an apology. Taylor has earned her stripes as a working, cross-demographic, artist. How about “Taylor, I’m sorry I was an asshat, what I did was unacceptable?”

Posted by Tess | Report as abusive

Beyonce has proven, once again, that she is a class act. Kudos to her for stepping back and allowing Taylor her moment to shine!

Posted by Suzy | Report as abusive

In case you’d like to tell Louis Vuitton you won’t be purchasing anymore of their products as long as Kanye is their spokesperson.

https://wws.louisvuitton.com/web/html/yo urquestions/contact.jsp?langue=en_US&buy =1&

Posted by G. W. Bush | Report as abusive

It’s a sad day when a news agency has to apologize for reporting something that’s true. If the president doesn’t want people knowing what he thinks then he shouldn’t say it in the first place.

Posted by RG | Report as abusive

First, Michael Jackson…bottom line …another dead drug addict. Great entertainer but just a rich drug addict. Then Whitney…another rich drug addict. Great entertainer but another drug addict. Congressman Wilson, angry white male and poster child for the pathology of the Republican party. Now West. Another “rich” but good entertainer that will do anything to promote himself. Then uses the death of his mother to say he needs to take some time off. America, do you want your children to be like this? If you do then you are part of the problem too. SHAME>>>

Posted by Rob | Report as abusive

This has been good for Taylor Swift. Who would have known her then if it was not the West incident?

Posted by ATG | Report as abusive

I am so embarraseed for all African American stars/mucisians as Kanye West showed a most selfish, arrogant self–obviously not related to his skin color; but it reflects badly on the huge number of AA stars who show some humility,grace and style. Beyonce does not need his little commercial; Swift did not need the humiliation…what was she supposed to say!!!! Whether or not our president called him a “jack ass” is irrelevant to me. I would like to see him get some therapy, some help to boost his self esteem–he is to be pitied…AND I LOVE JAY LENO!!!!

Posted by Barb Lambert | Report as abusive

President Obama was right in calling him a jack ass. Kanye apologizes then takes a shot a Patrick Swayze after his death saying Micheal Jackson’s death was a way bigger deal. This guy is a huge loser!

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

Good on Jay to put him on the spot in such an eloquent manner. Kanye should have clearly apologized which he did not and its sad. He is anything but grown up.

Posted by Mustafa | Report as abusive

I don’t think either one of them are worth a hoot, but I hope when he wins an award someone jumps up and takes his speech away. It’s disrespectful and just inmature. Reminds me of the days of East Coast West Coast drama between Death Row and Bad Boy.

Hey ATG, obviously a lot of people already know who Taylor Swift is… who the hell is Kanye West? Apparently he is just some ignorant, self absorbed drunk (the awards must have been BYOB since he was drinking straight out of his) who thinks that everyone should agree with him.

Posted by DRP | Report as abusive

Kanye who? Is this the no-talent character that so many groupies slobber over? He should be made to apologize to the House of Representatives.

Posted by Van | Report as abusive

I just watched the video with Jay. He really addressed the situation in the best way possible; Kayne didn’t know how to respond. He is a disgrace to himself. What did he mean “what he thinks such a program should be.” I interpret that once again, he was saying Taylor did not deserve the award. As I think more about it, he’s a disgrace to more than himself.

Posted by Onna | Report as abusive

ROB—with regard to your comment about Wilson and connecting it to the Republican party. I sat with a very intelligent gentleman from Kenya today on an airplane. He reminded me that comments such as Wilson’s would be considered very mild in Britain where yelling goes on routinely at such sessions. So we will have to decide of we wantto be liberal or conservative; if you want to be liberal, you should be more open to the Britain way.

Posted by Onna | Report as abusive

Everyone’s mother dies at some point, billions to date and counting, but few have used that as an excuse for narcissistic caterwauls. He owes an apology to all of the United States for his incessant inappropriate rants. He has conclusively demonstrated that he is nothing more than a punk with access to media, an access that should be denied immediately. Thank you, Mr. President, for your restrained observation.

Posted by Charles | Report as abusive

He writes “respect” on his apology but he does not know the meaning of it. A person who can’t give respect does not deserve to be respected. I don’t know Kanye West but now I know that he is not a good person. His current words and actions gives an impression that he will do a similar stunt in the future. The authorities must do something to prevent this since he can or will not stop himself.

Posted by jun v | Report as abusive

Why is it that celebrities believe that expertise in one area (acting, rapping, looking good), or an overstuffed bank account, qualifies them as an expert in everything?

Mr West should confine himself to what he knows, which ain’t much. Passing judgement on other artists is beyond his expertise and maturity level.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

The better question is, “Who cares?”

There are some actions that a person simply cannot ‘apologize’ for and that was one of them. He should have a lifetime ban from all award shows.

Posted by Bill Gates | Report as abusive

Oops! I apologize. I had a Kanye West moment. I meant to type the word your and not you.

Posted by Marie | Report as abusive

He is a mediocre rapper people. what do you expect.

Posted by Clayton | Report as abusive

I don’t know why it matters anyways everyone has an opinion on something and he felt that beyonce should have gotten the award then hey cant get mad at him he learned his lesson the end stop blasting the guy ppl in general are gonna do sumthin stupid at one point in time

Posted by Dee Hill | Report as abusive

Kayne West needs rehab of some sort. Find his way. It’s not when Mom dies no doubt many of us have felt that pain. Go get some help bro. We all make mistake’s in life. Move on and become a better person. Do a duet with the girl for pete’s sake.

Posted by goldbug | Report as abusive

The president just spoke his mind out loud. And I think West himself must be regretful, he apologized for what he’ve done on another show.

kanye is just plain disrespectful, even beyonce saw that and i applaude her for giving taylor her moment when she was given an award. it was just really disappointing for some who writes songs for inspiration.

Posted by LoreLyn916 | Report as abusive

Kanye West is a douche bag that cannot sing and he is just jealous that he was not getting attention. He has no talent and the Presidents comments were right on target.

Posted by Gary | Report as abusive

Where is everyone’s sense of humor? I can’t believe the ridiculous backlash against Kanye when what he did is the funniest thing to happen on the news in weeks. As far as the award itself is concerned, are you all serious? Of course Beyonce deserved it, she is and always will be head and shoulders above Swift and the like as both artist and celebrity. Have we really gotten so boring as a society that Swift is the one called to stage?

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Kanye’s outburst reflects the frustration of many ethnic groups that are constantly under represented and unfairly judged at all of the award shows. This has frustrated a lot of people for years, and it got the best of him.

I agree there is a better way to address this matter, but I also understand how he felt.

I think this should be addressed on a larger scale. Ethnics should pull away from giving credence to these shows and create, support, celebrate our own, if we are not going to be fairly recognized.

Posted by Cheryl | Report as abusive

I have just remembered that Kanye in one of our local languages in Africa means; to answer the call of nature: This is not a joke, it is the meaning of kanye; it is like you are telling a kid (below 5 years)to go and answer the call of nature. If you can ask some of those Americans who have lived in Africa will confirm.
But don’t be a bad boy Kanye, be a good lad.

Posted by Collins Tembo | Report as abusive

he schould sign his own musical epitath “the kayne mutiny”

Posted by bill | Report as abusive

I had posted this elsewhere:

Hope you soaking all these thoughts in these pages here and elsewhere……………

There is a Whole World outside Your Own You Have to Burden……………………………..

Action and Reaction – Cause and Effect………………………………….

Do Unto Others So Shall It Be Done Unto You……………………………..

So Say We All…………………………………………..

Have You have Hit Bottom Yet?………………………………………

Get This Beat………………………………………..

You Did Not Listen to Mama Well…………………………………………

Now KARMA is Your Hell……………………………………….

Many LifeTimes to Learn What You Will Teach Others in the End As you Ascend On Each LifeTime Lesson Learned……………………………………………

That is the Beat Of Life, The Music And Harmony Of Being Who You Are in the End……………………………………………..

Action and Reaction – Cause and Effect………………………………….

Do Unto Others So Shall It Be Done Unto You……………………………..

So Say We All…………………………………………..

Posted by Lifewomusic | Report as abusive

At least he didn’t say, “You Lie”.

This is exactly what perpeutates the impression of Americans abroad, the stereotypes of blacks in general and of their culture in America that they are obnoxiously loud, disrespectful, selfish, greedy, ignorant and superficial. This does not occur in other countries like it does here, but thanks to media like MTV it’s trying to spread because of the way media condones this behaviour to get ratings and profit by making a spectacle out of everything. Until blacks and other minorities stop demeaning themselves, disrespecting themselves, isolating themselves and become responsible for their own actions (like stealing my car this weekend), I will Unfortunately maintain that stereotype and continue to discriminate.

Posted by AndyO | Report as abusive

Mr. Obama could you please keep your fingers out of hollywood and other things that are none of your business. Like Leno said Obama will probably have Swift and WEst over for rootbeer and beer…haahaa. Oh yeah i forgot some of the Pork part of the stimulus did actually go to Hollywood so i guess that why he feels like he is now over Hollywood. blah blah blah

Posted by Vanilla83 | Report as abusive

Kanye West is a Jack ass. Who does that? It’s not always about Race. Why should anyone allow that kind of behavior? Thats unfair to the person who earned the award. By the way I heard he was drunk and that probably had a factor in why he acted like that.

A few responses excusing his behavior just proves that we as an entire species of humans are in trouble.

Now adays its a good thing to make your money and come up in a crooked way when before I remember that was not even close to acceptable.

He did act selfish. Anyways he is pretty high on himself.

I use to like his music but now I see a male diva.

Peace