Another race-tinged "scandal" pushed by Andrew Breitbart fell apart Tuesday, as the context for remarks made a quarter of a century ago, in the private sector, by ousted USDA official Shirley Sherrod —captured on a highly edited tape—emerge. But the truth did not come out until after many in the media, the White House, the Department of Agriculture and the NAACP all apparently jumped the gun in slamming Sherrod.
Sherrod now says she was asked to quit in three calls from the USDA yesteday, allegedly under orders from White House. She felt she was "forced" to resign, from the highway, via Blackberry. The White House says it was Department of Agriculture chief Tom Vilsack’s call, and he has stepped forward to confirm that –and defend his move, even after the full story started to emerge.
The company that made video says it is sending full tape to NAACP, which initially also called on Sherrod to resign but has now backtracked. Tonight NAACP announced that it had been "snookered by Fox News and Tea Party activist Andrew Breitbart." It said "we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans." Full video now posted here.
[[WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Vilsack now says he is studying the case and may re-consider the firing. Sherrod told ABC this morning she’s not sure she would accept old job back after all of this. Mike Allen at Politico reports today his chat with White House official about the Sherrod affair: “Not sure what the ultimate result will be, but it’s clear that with new information through the full speech, a longer look needed to be taken. The White House contacted the Department last night about the case and agreed, based on new evidence, that it should be reviewed.” He also indicated that Vilsack probably won’t lose his job over this.]]
After Breitbart posted a portion of a recent speech by Sherrod on his site Big Government yesterday Fox and other rightwing outlets gave it full play, and Bill O’Reilly called for her resignation. Naturally, it turns out that Breitbart didn’t even have the full tape. Yet numerous news outlets played it and cited it, without bothering to wonder: Is this a fair sample? And what is Breitbart’s track record, anyway?