UPDATE AT END OF POST: Walsh responds, claims this isn't what she said!
Joan Walsh on Sunday said former USDA official Shirley Sherrod is allowed to say anything she wants about racism -- including calling Fox News and Andrew Breitbart racist -- because her father was killed by a white man.
Discussing last week's controversy on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Salon's Editor-in-Chief actually claimed, "The woman's father was murdered by a white farmer, and there were witnesses, and the white justice system never found the murderer guilty."
"She's entitled to talk about race any way she wants to."
When Matt Lewis of Politics Daily asked incredulously, "Any way she wants to," the sparks began to fly (video follows with transcript and commentary):
This woman's been offered a job by the Agriculture Department as a Deputy Director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And she's saying Andrew Breitbart wants to return to the days of slavery? Now, you can think what Andrew Breitbart did was reprehensible, irresponsible, unfair and a total smear. Does that justify saying he wants us to go back to the days of slavery?Earlier in the roundtable, Sam Donaldson equated Fox News hosts with Joe McCarthy and yearned for a Joseph Welch “have you no decency” moment, demanding: “Who are these people that they should pay attention to and be afraid of? Who’s Glenn Beck, I mean, who’s Bill O'Reilly? Who’s Bret whatever his name is?” Donaldson recalled how FDR proclaimed: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” So, the retired ABC News veteran advised: “President Obama, don’t be afraid of them. Take ‘em on and let the people judge.”
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Sunday accused the Fox News Channel of being racist.
With the opening subject of "Fox News Sunday" being last week's controversial termination of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, Dean said, "I think Fox News did something that was absolutely racist. They took a, they had an obligation to find out what was really within the clip."
Dean continued, "They have been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this, this business, and Sotomayor and all this other stuff...The Tea Party called out their racist fringe, and I think the Republican Party's got to stop appealing to its racist fringe."
That apparently was all host Chris Wallace could stand, for he struck back and struck back hard beginning with, "I know facts are inconvenient things, but let's try to deal with the facts" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Charles Krauthammer on Friday scolded Gordon Peterson, the host of PBS's "Inside Washington," for blaming Shirley Sherrod's termination on Fox News.
As he introduced the first topic of the evening, Peterson said, "Which brings me to the story of ousted Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod who was let go on the basis of a single piece of internet video that was edited out of context, posted on a conservative website, picked up on Fox News, and bought lock, stock and barrel by the Obama administration."
When Krauthammer got his turn, he went right after Peterson saying, "Speaking of apologies, perhaps you ought to apologize for saying that Fox News had her on the air before the administration had fired her" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Conservative author Ann Coulter was Rick Sanchez's guest on the prime time edition of "Rick's List" Friday, and the sparks were flying.
After showing a clip of Coulter earlier in the week claiming that Andrew Breitbart was set up with that partial video of Shirley Sherrod speaking at an NAACP function in March, Sanchez asked, "Look, doesn't Breitbart deserve to lose his credibility for this?"
This wasn't edited to make it look like she was discriminating against a white farmer. She was admitting that she was discriminating against a white farmer...It wasn't a doctored tape. It wasn't an edited tape. It was an excerpted tape.
When Sanchez replied, "You're playing games. You're playing semantics," the battle was on (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In all of its Shirley Sherrod coverage this week, National Public Radio never managed to interview a conservative guest on the subject (other than a few tossed-in audio clips of Andrew Breitbart), although NPR never landed a Sherrod interview, either, despite her whirlwind tour. On Wednesday night's All Things Considered news program, anchor Michele Norris interviewed Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, who predictably scorned the right wing's "Fox obsessions" and "notorious smear artist" Andrew Breitbart. This judgment might be questioned, considering Alter wrote in 1996 it was a "weak case of media malfeasance" when his own magazine's sleuthing about the authenticity of medals spurred an admiral's suicide.
Norris offered Alter only softball liberal questions, allowing him a comfortable platform to promote his pro-Obama book The Promise while he disparaged the conservatives:
"In some ways, it makes it look like the White House is kowtowing to right-wingers here, Mike," Brewer told MSNBC correspondent Mike Viqueira Wednesday as she was addressing the Shirley Sherrod case and what the White House's role was in her firing. The next day, after discussing the apologies by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilisack, Brewer asked the same question.
"So what does it say then about how conservative cable controversies influence the White House?" Brewer asked liberal Washington Post editorialist Jonathan Capehart.
Should there be a "gatekeeper" regulating internet bloggers? In the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod incident, that's what CNN promoted on July 23.
Anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed the "mixed blessing of the internet," and agreed that there should be a crackdown on anonymous bloggers who disparage others on the internet.
"There are so many great things that the internet does and has to offer, but at the same time, Kyra, as you know, there is this dark side," Roberts said. "Imagine what would have happened if we hadn't taken a look at what happened with Shirley Sherrod and plumbed the depths further and found out that what had been posted on the internet was not in fact reflective of what she said."
The CNN anchor began his criticism of his network's competitor eight minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour, focusing on Fox News's coverage of the Shirley Sherrod story. Sanchez's focused on Fox News's separation between their news operation and their opinion programming, such as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity's shows, as he gave his version of the timeline of how the network apparently covered the story:
NBC's Matt Lauer brought on two liberals, former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, publisher and editor of the leftist The Nation magazine, on Friday's Today show, to dissect the Shirley Sherrod "saga" as viewers were treated to an attack on the "right wing media which peddles fears and slanders." In a segment titled "Race In America, Lessons Learned From The Shirley Sherrod Saga" Vanden Heuvel dominated the conversation as she didn't attack just Andrew Breitbart but conservative media as a whole as she railed "Are we gonna be a media system which is vetting and holding standards or are we gonna be bullied as a country by a right wing media which peddles fears and slanders to really destroy President Obama's presidency?"
However, Vanden Heuvel is probably the last one to be preaching about standards as Lauer failed to mention that several of The Nation staffers, at JournoList, criticized journalists for doing any journalism at all about Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
A full version of the speech shows that was a set-up to Sherrod's tale of racial reconciliation, though there are questions of how far her racial reconciliation really goes. That same speech reveals Sherrod accusing Republicans of being racist by opposing Obama and Obama-care, and Sherrod has gone on to accuse Fox News of using her as a "pawn" for its own reactionary, racist purposes.
Fox News didn't run a report on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned under White House pressure and after the NAACP had issued a press release condemning Sherrod. Yet in "For Fired Agriculture Official, Flurry of Apologies and Job Offer," reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Shaila Dewan, and Brian Stelter, and written by Stolberg, the Times chose to blame a cabal of "right-wing Web sites" and Fox News for fostering the Sherrod scandal which led to her dismissal. As if Fox forced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do its right-wing bidding without ever actually running a single story on Sherrod until after her firing, when the point became moot.
The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized profusely and repeatedly on Wednesday to a black midlevel official for the way she had been humiliated and forced to resign her Agriculture Department job after a conservative blogger put out a misleading video clip that seemed to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer.
By the end of the day, the official, Shirley Sherrod, had gained instant fame and emerged as the heroine of a compelling story about race and redemption.
On Thursday’s The View on ABC, as the group hosted former USDA official Shirley Sherrod to talk about her experience of being fired by the Obama administration, after co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck got her to address comments she had made before the NAACP in which she accused Republicans of challenging President Obama on health care reform because he is black, co-host Joy Behar went on a tirade charging that the Bush administration "did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it," and suggested that President Bush was also indifferent to the black population as she declared that Obama "does give a damn about black people." Behar:
But I wanted to support what Shirley said before, which is that during the Bush administration, you had tax cuts for the wealthiest, and he did not, that whole administration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. That's why Obama was elected in the first place. I mean, even now, the Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment insurance, and yet they're okay with tax cuts to the wealthy. Let me finish! So, now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people.