md_horizThe Theater of the Sherrod(s) is apparently not over.

At AL.com last night, Mike Tomberlin of the Birmingham News reported the following:

Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will meet Tuesday with agriculture secretary

Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development director for Georgia, said today she plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss a new job offer.

... Sherrod today spoke in the Sumter County town of Epes at an event hosted by the Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP, shared the stage with Sherrod during a panel discussion.

Sherrod said she had no ill feelings toward the NAACP or President Barack Obama.

It the meeting does indeed occur, it will be an interesting test of establishment media credibility, given the accusations leveled at Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles by Ron Wilkins at the leftist publication Counterpunch several weeks ago. Here are some of the specifics:



Sherrods

What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.

Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.

That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.

Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."

Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):



Rachel Maddow on Friday highly-edited a video from the previous evening's "O'Reilly Factor" in order to make the Fox News host look racist.

For some background, Bill O'Reilly wrote a syndicated column Friday in which he chastized Maddow and David Letterman for "without a shred of evidence" claiming on CBS's "Late Show" Tuesday that FNC intentionally runs stories about "scary black people" in order to frighten white folks into voting for conservatives.

Maddow responded by calling this "bullpucky," and presented video "evidence" from "Factor" programs to prove that this indeed is what Fox does.

Unfortunately, in the most damning clip, Maddow's minions conveniently edited out that O'Reilly was referring to a recent Gallup poll about how blacks and whites have differing views of President Obama.

Ironically, this came moments after Maddow scolded O'Reilly for airing the edited version of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod on his July 19 program (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):



Rachel Maddow on Tuesday told David Letterman that scaring white people is good politics for conservatives.

After the host of CBS's "Late Show" asked his perilously biased guest about the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod affair, the MSNBCer predictably pointed her accusatory finger at Fox News and everybody on the right. 

"The idea is you sort of rile up the white base to be afraid of an other, to be afraid of the scary immigrants or scary black people," Maddow said.

"Somebody coming to take what is white people's rightful property," she continued. "And you get them riled up so they feel like they need to vote in self-defense, and they vote for conservative candidates because of that fear" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary, h/t TVNewser):



If things don't work out for Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, she could always fall back on unintentional comedy.

In last week's back and forth between Fox's Bill O'Reilly and Maddow over the Sherrod controversy, Maddow criticized O'Reilly for mocking MSNBC's meager ratings while also accusing him of playing fast and loose with facts.

Here's the kicker in Maddow's remarks aimed at O'Reilly, stated on her show July 22 (first part of embedded video) --

MADDOW: You were trying to take the attention off me saying that your network, Fox News, continually crusades on flagrantly bogus stories designed to make white Americans fear black Americans, which Fox News most certainly does for a political purpose even if it upends the lives of individuals like Shirley Sherrod, even as it frays the fabric of the nation, and even as it makes the American dream more of a dream and less of a promise. You can insult us all you want about television ratings, Mr. O'Reilly, and you'll be right, that yours are bigger, for now and maybe forever. You are the undisputed champion.

But even if no one watches us at all except for my mom and my girlfriend and people who forgot to turn off the TV after Keith, you are still wrong on what really matters, and that would be the facts, your highness.

... while she and MSNBC, Maddow implies, get it right where it really matters. If only Maddow hadn't gotten it wrong every other day last week, a feat of Rick Sanchezesque proportion.



We're fast approaching the two week anniversary of the Shirley Sherrod affair, and I have yet to hear anyone honestly answer the following question concerning the controversy:

How would the media have handled this matter if it happened when George W. Bush was President?

Would the press have acted the same, or would somebody else be taking the heat?

Before you answer, consider the following hypothetical scenario: 



Leave That Sort of Thing to Us

"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.




Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II

"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.




Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"

"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.





In yet another example of the news media being selective about which party labels it chooses to share, a recent CNN online story about Shirley Sherrod mentioning three Democrat politicians included the "D" when the politicians where doing something the story applauded, and left it off when the Democrat was a bad guy.



Is there more to the Shirley Sherrod story than the White House has let on - and the media has discovered? While the mainstream media continues to focus on the more sensationalistic, scandalous aspects of the story, a number of bloggers have unearthed facts that suggest further effort is needed to figure out Sherrod's dealings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sherrod's involvement is not at all clear, nor is there definitive evidence of any wrongdoing. But Sherrod's sudden presence in the spotlight has led to investigations that turn up some strange numbers.

In short, the 2008 farm bill earmarked $1.25 billion to compensate a predicted total of 86,000 African American farmers for discriminatory practices against them. But according to the Census Bureau, there are were 39,697 African American farmers in the nation in 2007, and even fewer in previous years.

This week the Obama administration announced it does not have the funds to pay that $1.25 billion. Yet the administration also announced that it will pay $1.5 billion in relief to farmers in Arkansas, leaving some wondering whether the recall of the $1.25 billion was more a matter of choice than necessity.



Chuck Todd works for the same network that employs the likes of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, liberal propagandists all, yet it's doubtful Todd would ever call them that, however he did attach that "p" word to one Andrew Breitbart. During a segment, on Friday's Today show, headlined: "White House Distractions, Sherrod Story Lingers with Lawsuit Plans" Todd relayed that the former USDA official is "preparing to file a lawsuit against the conservative propagandist who started this whole mess." After Today co-anchor Ann Curry teased his report, Todd began his story by claiming the Sherrod "mess," was getting in the way of the President promoting his agenda:

CHUCK TODD: Well look the White House would love nothing more than the Shirley Sherrod story to fade into the background. But as the President prepares to head to Michigan today, to highlight the relative health of the American auto industry the Sherrod story still doesn't have an ending. She's yet to give the administration an answer about that new job offer that was made to her and more importantly she's preparing to file a lawsuit against the conservative propagandist who started this whole mess.

The following is Todd's full report as it was aired on the July 30 Today show:



Chris Matthews in the course of less than two hours Thursday appeared to radically change his opinion about Shirley Sherrod's pending lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart.

As NewsBusters previously reported, Matthews during the 5 p.m. installment of "Hardball" got into a heated argument with former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean about the contents of the controversial video Breitbart posted at BigGovernment.com on July 19.

For some reason, rather than air that segment as part of the normal 7 p.m. rerun, MSNBC did a live broadcast bringing Politico's Ken Vogel in to discuss the matter with Matthews and original guest Salon's Joan Walsh.

What resulted was a completely different presentation than what aired just two hours prior with Matthews far more critical of Breitbart than he previously was and far more supportive of the merits of Sherrod's case.

Let's look at the videos to see the glaring difference in these segments (partial transcripts also follow with commentary):



CNN's Joe Johns surprisingly highlighted Charles Sherrod's racially-charged comments about stopping "the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections" during a segment on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360. Johns also reported on the questions being raised by conservatives about how his wife Shirley Sherrod received her former position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture [audio clip available here].

Anchor Anderson Cooper, after devoting some time to faulting himself for not pressing Mrs. Sherrod after she labeled conservative Andrew Breitbart a "vicious" racist during a July 22 interview, introduced the correspondent's report: "There's also a new aspect to the Shirley Sherrod story...Questions about her and her husband, Charles...keep bubbling up on some conservative blogs. The questions center around why and how Shirley Sherrod got appointed to her old job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the first place, and whether her appointment was somehow connected to a settlement she received from the government in a race discrimination lawsuit."