Vol. 20, No. 4,949 - The American Reporter - April 3, 2014




by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.
July 23, 2010
On Native Ground
AUSTERITY FOR WHOM?

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BRADENTON, Fla., July 20, 2010 -- What a sad story the Shirley Sherrod saga has become.

To recap, Andrew Breitbart, who paid for the people who did the ACORN sting, edited a videotape so that the remarks of Sherrod to a March 27 NAACP gathering falsely portray her as a racist rather than someone who, in recounting an example of her own racism long ago, goes on in the same tape to reject her former attitude and talk about the growth she achieved through the incident.

Shirley Sherrod, the USDA state rural development director based in Athens, Ga., the victim of an Andrew Breibart-FoxNews video edited to falsely portray her as a racist, is honored by the Albany Farmers Conference earlier this year. Photo: Albany Farmers Conference

Sherrod was not spouting rhetoric; in the speech, she recalls that a white farmer who was a Ku Klux Klan member murdered her father 40 years ago.

"Fix" News picks up the edited video and runs it in the context of black racism, trying to answer charges of racism leveled against Tea Party activists. Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity began bloviating about it hours after the edited tape first surfaced.

Next, the NAACP finds out about the edited tape from Fix and calls for Sherrod's resignation.

Then Tom Vilsack's deputy secretary of Agriculture calls Sherrod up as she's driving home from South Georgia and tells her the White House wants her to resign because Glenn Beck is going to use the item that very night. Sherrod resigns.

Vilsack tells CNN he never heard from the White House and that it was his idea alone to "save her job" by having her quit.

Then anonymous sources at the White House denied it had contacted Vilsack about the issue, CNN reported.

CNN then contacts the aging white farmer - not the Klansman - that Sherrod was discussing in the original video, and he and his wife call her a "magnificent" person who helped them save their farm through her personal intervention.

Then the NAACP reviews the entire tape, not just the Breitbart-Fox News edit, and its leadership apologizes to Sherrod, saying it had been "snookered" by Breitbart and Fix, and calls on Vilsack to reconsider.

He tells CNN he won't reconsider.

Then the President says he backs Vilsack's decision.

And Breitbart goes on CNN and tells John King it wasn't about Sherrod but about the NAACP. King slaps him down.

Glenn Beck doesn't use the story. It's just a blip on Fox News programming all Tuesday night. On Thursday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith condemns Breitbart and his Website, biggovernment.com, saying "I don't trust the source."

Throughout all this, it comes out slowly that Sherrod really is a dedicated and wonderful public servant who has been grievously wronged by knee-jerk reactions by Vilsack, and that she has been lied to by the deputy secretary of USDA who told her the White House was demanding her resignation and Glenn Beck was on her trail.

What all this reveals, shamefully, is that the White House really does believe it is going to lose the House and is desperate to avoid any mistakes that would make that a sure thing. This attitude has obviously infected the bureaucracy, producing the kind of nonsense the deputy secretary breathlessly relayed to Sherrod.

Never understimate the foolishness of human beings.

I hate to be the first to break the news, but the White House is not going to lose Congress. They do not have to panic. The polls may say something different, but the American people see a President who is winning for them. He's got us health care, he's got us Wall Street reform and now he's got us extended jobless benefits. We can count.

Republicans have achieved zero, or as author Brett Easton Ellis would put it, less than zero.

The NAACP, on the other hand, demonstrated some nobility of character in plainly admitting it had been fooled. I love that word "snookered."

Sherrod should probably change places with the deputy secretary at USDA; that would be only fair. Vilsack should vigorously apologize for being "snookered" by Breitbart and Fox News, the mortal enemies of the Obama Administration. And the President and First Lady should invite Sherrod to the White House to recognize her long years of hard work and many contributions to the hard-working farmers of South Georgia. I think that may go a long way to heal the damage.

Update: The White House, through spokesman Robert Gibbs, apologized Wednesday morning on behalf of the entire Administration to Shirley Sherrod, saying her firing "was wrong."

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement on Sherrod's firing late Wednesday afternoon, said he "was wrong" to fire her and has now offered Sherrod a substantial promotion that she is considering.

Update: On Wednesday morning, responding to many complaints, Secretary Vilsack said he will review his decision to fire Shirley Sherrod. She responded that she wasn't really sure she wanted her job back, but has been encouraged to accept it.

Resources: Secretary Vilsack will review email sent to him on this topic at stephanie.chan@oc.usda.gov. Use the Subject: header "Shirley Sherrod comment" and address the note itself to Secretary Vilsack (i.e., "Dear Mr. Secretary:").

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