March 16, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Rev. Billy Graham is again apologizing for a 1972 conversation with former President Nixon in which he said a Jewish ``stranglehold'' of the media was ruining the country.

``I don't ever recall having those feelings about any group, especially the Jews, and I certainly do not have them now,'' Graham said in a statement issued Saturday. ``I humbly ask the Jewish community to reflect on my actions on behalf of Jews over the years that contradict my words in the Oval Office that day.''

The conversation was included on 500 hours of Nixon White House tapes released by the National Archives in late February. Most were recorded in 1972.

In the conversation with Nixon, the Southern Baptist evangelist expressed disdain for what he saw as Jewish domination of the media.

``This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain,'' Graham said, agreeing with Nixon's own comments earlier in the conversation.

Graham, 83, initially apologized in a brief statement issued March 1, shortly after the tapes were released.

In a two-page statement issued Saturday by the Minneapolis-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he said he had held many conversations with Nixon on many topics.

``However, I cannot imagine what caused me to make those comments, which I totally repudiate. Whatever the reason, I was wrong for not disagreeing with the president, and I sincerely apologize to anyone I have offended,'' he said.

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