In lieu of Sherrod's recent travails, CNN co-anchors Chetry and John Roberts brought the embattled former USDA official on-air for an interview. They briefed the audience on Sherrod's rocky background in the race-embittered South, which included having a cross burned in her family's yard and her father being murdered by a white man who was never indicted for the crime.
Then the anchors turned to Breitbart's publication of the edited video showing Sherrod delivering her remarks to NAACP members. Chetry asked Sherrod if she would consider a defamation suit against Breitbart, to which she said she would. Sherrod said later that she would like to help President Obama understand better what some African-Americans have gone through in terms of racially-motivated abuse.
Then the dialogue morphed from that of a sympathetic interview into a full-fledged shower of praise for Sherrod.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good screed? Just ask Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who published a postmortem yesterday to the magazine's The Gaggle blog on "[h]ow the administration mishandled a manufactured scandal":
How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?
Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.
Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday lobbied Shirley Sherrod to agree that Barack Obama is trying to improve race relations. The fired USDA employee first asserted she needed more assurance from the President. Stephanopoulos prodded, "But, don't you think that President Obama's committed to that?"
The former Democratic operative turned journalist followed up with another conciliatory question: "You were quite harsh on the White House in the early days as this story unfolded. Are you satisfied now that they've done everything they can, that the President's done everything he can? And that he's fully behind you?"
Admitting he has never met Breitbart, Cooper preached, "Watching him try to weasel his way out of taking responsibility for what he did to Ms. Sherrod today is a classic example of what is wrong with our national discourse."
After pointing out that Breitbart should have apologized for posting an out-of-context video that made Sherrod, a black woman working at the Department of Agriculture, appear racist toward white farmers, Cooper dismissed the publisher of BigGovernment.com as a ideologue who will never own his mistakes: "Today, Mr. Breitbart could have just apologized, said he was wrong, but he didn't. Bullies never do. And nor do ideologues in our divided country." It's strange that Cooper would demand honesty in our discourse and then suggest he's not one of those "ideologues." As if he never snarkily attacked "teabaggers."
Radio listeners and cable viewers, rest assured -- Ed Schultz is on the side of the angels when it comes to integrity, he strenuously reminds us.
The liberal radio host and MSNBC action hero spent much of his radio show yesterday venting about the Shirley Sherrod uproar and denouncing Andrew Breitbart and Fox News for their alleged role in Sherrod's abrupt firing.
Here's a holier-than-thou Schultz proclaiming his own purity (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: What we have here is a manufactured story, cooked up and promoted by the right wing that work across the street, supplied by a hate merchant, Breitbart, and Hannity, sold as a racial hate story and clearly a White House that overreacted without all of the facts. It is so unlike President Barack Obama to act like this.
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill discussed the firing of Shirley Sherrod with left-wing Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who used the opportunity to slam conservatives: "...there's unfair pressure on the Obama administration, Mr. Obama himself, from, I think, the far right wing, which perceives black gain at the expense of white security."
Dyson used the phrase "right wing" a total of eight times throughout the five-minute segment. He lamented how the White House "caved into duress and stress from the right wing" and later pushed the false claim that Fox News had pushed the Obama administration to fire Sherrod: "And it does show that Andrew Breitbart and other right-wing bloggers have an intense power, this is focused at Fox News, that then forces the mainstream media to pay attention and the White House itself got roped into this."
At one point, Dyson remarked: "...it's not just a matter of 'oh, those right wing guys over there are horrible,' there's liberal enlightened racism as well." Hill responded: "The NAACP initially jumped on this and said – and condemned – condemned Sherrod as well. So, I mean, this is coming from all sides. This is not just a right wing issue or a left wing issue." Dyson admitted that he thought the NAACP acted "dishonorably," but quickly moved back to conservatives: "...why do we take the word of a right-wing media on the issues and practices and behaviors of people in the broader mainstream? I think we have to be very careful here."
UPDATE (3:20 PM): A couple of quotes below the fold demonstrate just how ideologically diverse critics are who note that Fox played no direct role in Sherrod's resignation. Pundits from the Washington Post and National Review weigh in.
Shirley Sherrod placed the blame for her ouster at Fox News's feet. Hardly surprising. She's a liberal (former) member of a liberal administration. More surprising, given the clear preponderance of facts contradicting this meme, is that much of the media has followed her lead.
Ironically, while a number of mainstream media outlets claim that Fox News is responsible for getting Sherrod to resign, Fox's first call for a resignation, made by Bill O'Reilly just before 9:00 pm on Monday, came roughly an hour after Sherrod had actually resigned.
In other words, Fox News exerted no meaningful pressure on the administration to take any specific actions with regard to Sherrod before the administration took those actions on its own accord. FoxNews.com had run a story earlier (no longer available on its site) displaying Breitbart's video and reporting what were then assumed (erroneously, it turns out) to be the facts of the situation - Sherrod had acted in a condemnable, racist manner.
Even though I as a pro-life blogger know I battle on the right side of history, on a day-to-day basis I sometimes don't feel like a victor. The fight seems so uphill, with money, political power, and MSM all against us.
So the following July 21 Politico story about what bloggers on the Left think of us was enlightening. Every time I get a peek into the other side's view of us I realize once again that they're paper tigers.
Also of note is the Left's view that Obama has clipped his agenda thanks to us, when we think his actions thus far demonstrate he is the most liberally radical president ever.The piece's impetus is the Shirley Sherrod debacle....
But this week's forced resignation of a previously obscure Agriculture Dept. employee is just the latest example of Obama officials reacting to a cable news-driven obsession of the right.
It not only infuriates Obama's liberal base, which feels like the episodes just reinforce the power of the right to push a damaging story into the mainstream press....
On today's Morning Joe, the Washington Post editorialist, trying to suggest the White House was not involved in the firing of Shirley Sherrod, offered a strained theory of how Sherrod misunderstood what she was being told by a USDA official about the White House wanting her gone.
But when Willie Geist asked the obvious question, Capehart's house of cards largely crumbled, forcing Jonathan to beat a hasty tactical retreat. It's actually quite amusing: do check out the video.
Exhibiting an extreme case of the media euphoria over Shirley Sherrod’s vindication, moments before Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appeared before the cameras CNN senior political analyst David Gergen gushed to Rick Sanchez:
I have to tell you, Rick, I don't want to put her on too high a pedestal. I don't think she would want that. But I kept thinking about Nelson Mandela as I heard her story, because he had to overcome the same sort of hatred on both sides. And he became this larger-than-life figure and I think we all loved him and revered him because he was able to grow like that. And there is that quality about her story.
48 hours without a job just like 27 years in prison. And how did she experience “hatred on both sides?”
UPDATE at end of post: Glenn Beck skewers Olbermann for this pathetic rant!
Quite predictably, his greater than twelve minute tirade largely focused on Fox News and Andrew Breitbart -- the latter repeatedly referred to as "scum" as well as a "pornographer of propaganda" -- who he claimed "assassinated" Sherrod.
After starting his rant by pompously comparing the former USDA official to Alfred Dreyfus, the French artillery officer falsely accused of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island, the "Countdown" host tore into almost everyone on the planet (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
On Tuesday’s Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as host Maddow complained that a video clip of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod had been edited to make it appear that she currently has a tendency to discriminate against white farmers at USDA – a clip that led to her firing by the Obama administration – the MSNBC host not only incorrectly claimed that FNC coverage of the clip had helped incite her firing, but she also suggested that FNC would never show her side of the story even though, by that time Tuesday night, several FNC shows had already informed viewers of some of the details in Sherrod’s favor. And, in fact, Sherrod had already been forced to resign before the O’Reilly Factor became the first FNC show to report the story of her comments on Monday night, although host Bill O’Reilly at the time did not realize she had already been fired.
Maddow’s show even chose to only present to her viewers clips from FNC that ran Monday and Tuesday morning which portrayed Sherrod’s comments as racist, without airing any of the clips from shows later Tuesday which showed FNC personalities conveying more of her side of the story. As Maddow filled in her viewers on some of the details in Sherrod’s favor, the MSNBC host used such phrases as "you would never know this if you got all your information from Fox News," and, after explaining that Sherrod, in fact, helped the white farmers in question, she added: "That`s what happened – unless, of course, you watch Fox News." FNC had already reported most of those same details hours earlier, and O’Reilly even informed his viewers Tuesday that Sherrod had declined an invitation to appear as a guest on his show, so liberal FNC analyst Alan Colmes appeared in her place.