Was Shirley Sherrod framed by the Right?

A USDA official is ousted after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posts an edited, racially explosive videotape. Did he sacrifice an innocent victim just to create a scandal?

Shirley Sherrod.
(Image credit: USDA)

The controversy over ousted U.S.D.A. official Shirley Sherrod's comments on race just got more complicated. Sherrod resigned under pressure Tuesday after conservative Web publisher Andrew Breitbart posted a video clip of Sherrod, who is black, saying at a March NAACP conference that, as an employee at a nonprofit 24 years ago, she had balked at helping a white farmer. Sherrod was quickly forced to resign, but the NAACP has since posted an unedited version of her remarks that prove she was using her mistake to preach against racism. Was Sherrod framed by the Right? (Watch Sherrod's controversial remarks)

Breitbart lied to paint Sherrod as a racist: This is an open-and-shut case of race-baiting, says Tom Scocca in Slate. In its introduction of the clip, Big Government said Sherrod, quote, "admits that in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars... She discriminates against people due to their race." Breitbart's blatant lying — Sherrod wasn't talking about her work for the government, and her point was that racism is "a bad thing" — takes conservative whining about reverse racism to a shameless new low.

"Politically-correct crybaby Andrew Breitbart gets another black person fired"

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Vilsack is the one who should be ashamed: This sad episode is "only partially about race or tawdry journalism," says Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. "It is mostly about cowardice." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should have known that right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart is a questionable source. And even if he didn't, "you do not dismiss an employee, wreck a career, without doing due diligence." Too bad Vilsack was too afraid to ask before telling Sherrod to resign.

"The firing of Shirley Sherrod — and the cowardice of Tom Vilsack"

Sherrod's not racist. The NAACP is: Andrew Breitbart said up front that Shirley Sherrod eventually helped the white farmer, says Jim Hoft in Gateway Pundit. The point in posting the video was to show that the NAACP, which has declared that the Tea Party harbors racists, is the one that tolerates open bigotry in its ranks. The audience — which apparently included NAACP President Ben Jealous — shouted its approval when Sherrod talked about withholding her full support from the white farmer. That's "disgusting," no matter what her ultimate point was.

"Breaking: NAACP president was in attendance at Sherrod speech (video)"

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