This statement, time-stamped as sent at 2:07 a.m., was in my email this morning.
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tonight released the following statement in response to the release of remarks in video from Shirley Sherrod:
“I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner.”
Apparently the case is keeping at least some folks in Washington up at night. Good. The statement from the Obama administration represents a considerable change in tone from an email sent late yesterday afternoon defending Sherrod’s firing. They owe her not just her job back, they owe her a high-level apology as well. The NAACP has already issued such a statement.
Andrew Breitbart, who initially released the highly deceptive video at BigGovernment.com, continues to defend it. OK, maybe Shirley Sherrod isn’t racist, he now concedes. But her NAACP audience surely is.
“Regardless of what else is in Sherrod’s speech, the first video released on BigGovernment.com features Sherrod telling a tale of racism that is received by the NAACP audience with laughter and cheers. They weren’t cheering redemption; they were cheering discrimination. Upon hearing the cheers, Sherrod fails to offer any immediate clarification and even smiles right along with them.
Breitbart’s main objective by releasing the video was to call out the NAACP, an organization who has recently gone to great lengths to condemn the Tea Party’s alleged racism, for sanctioning racism in it’s own organization. Sherrod immediately became the scapegoat for the embarrassed NAACP and USDA, but she was never the target, the NAACP itself was, and the delight the audience took in the racist part of Sherrod’s speech leaves them exposed.
Sherrod’s firing is on the NAACP, who had the entire tape and apparently never bothered to scrutinize it until Sherrod had already been relieved of her duties. If it’s on anyone else, it’s the Obama administration, but Breitbart never even called for Sherrod to be fired.”
The refusal to accept responsibility — the utter lack of any contrition whatsoever — is dismaying, but not surprising.
Furthermore, I sat down to watch the clip in question again, and I don’t see evidence even for Breitbart’s latest claims. Early in the clip, the audience responds and chuckles along with Sherrod. But once she begins to talk about doing less than she might have for the white farmer, that reaction ceases and the audience falls quiet. Take a look for yourself:
Here’s the full video of Sherrod’s remarks: