Media Matters: Sherrod: I’m a Victim of Breitbart, Fox ‘Racism’

Sherrod: I’m a Victim of Breitbart, Fox ‘Racism’

by Joe Strupp

Original story: http://mediamatters.org/strupp/201007210037

Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department Georgia Director of Rural Development, says she is a victim. A victim of poor reporting and, as she contends, clear bias and racist coverage from both Andrew Breitbart and Fox News.

“When you look at their reporting, this is just another way of seeing that they are (racist),” Sherrod told me about Fox in a lengthy interview Tuesday night. “But I have seen that before now. I saw their reporting as biased during the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration.”

Sherrod was forced to resign on Monday after a portion of a taped speech she gave last March was posted at Breitbart’s Biggovernment.com.

In the edited tape, she spoke about how she had not initially helped a white farmer as much as she could have in 1986 when he was going to lose his farm. In the posting, Breitbart made it appear as though the story had occurred during her time as a federal official and not 24 years ago when she worked for a non-profit organization.

Breitbart also did not include the entire context of the speech, in which she later explained that she learned from the situation and ended up helping the farmer, Roger Spooner and his wife. Both Spooners spoke out several times Tuesday to support Sherrod and voice that they would have lost their farm if not for her help.

Breitbart has since posted the full version of the tape, but his original posting also remains.

“It was a time when I realized that they did some of the same things to white farmers that they did to black farmers,” Sherrod said about the speech. “I thought that all white farmers got the best treatment, but I found out in this case that was not so.”

Explaining the speech further, Sherrod said, “I am trying to say to the people there that it is time for us to move forward. We do not want to forget the past and be in a position that racism is there and we don’t see it. We want to move together. Our area of the state cannot grow and thrive until we learn to get along.”

But after Breitbart posted the video clip, Sherrod said the lack of context and explanation sparked anger against her. She said she found out about the clip when someone e-mailed a link to her and asked about it.

“I couldn’t believe it. I found this out when someone sent me (a link to) the tape, people who follow him, who put it out there,” Sherrod said about Breitbart. “I got crank calls right away. Someone sent me an e-mail and link and said ‘shame on you’ and other stuff. I was sitting in a meeting and I was really upset.

“I texted back that they were so wrong and that they need to know the message and they got it wrong.”

Sherrod said Cheryl Cook, USDA deputy undersecretary, called her Monday and said she had to be on administrative leave.”

She adds: “People were calling and writing the Department of Agriculture in Athens, Ga., and Washington to tell them about it. That I needed to be fired. That a racist like me had no business working for the department. That is the way they intimidate people and it worked.”

By the end of the day Monday, she was forced to resign.

Sherrod, 62, said her first reaction was shock that, after a career working for civil rights and as the daughter of a father murdered by racists, she would be seen in such a terrible light.

“To have people say that I was such a racist was unbelievable,” she said of the fallout from the video and Fox coverage. “My whole life, if you look into what I have done, my father was murdered in 1965. If you look at all of us, we all hurt with that and we got involved into the movement and channeled our effort into good, instead of hating.

“I am getting hate calls and e-mails at this point. I got one call last night at my house at 12:30 a.m. that said ‘you lost your job, good for you’ and ‘bitch’ There are people out there who will believe that I am a racist person, even though the story is getting out there.”

She said her husband, Charles, and her two children, who also live nearby in Athens, Ga., were surprised, but have been toughened by years of seeing her work in the civil rights movement: “They had to grow up in the movement so they have had to deal with stuff like this through the years. We did not always take the easy road. They have some thick skin as a result.”

But the clear damage to Sherrod comes from Breitbart, who posted the tape without context, and Fox, which ran with the story and did not seek to confirm it.

“The news media should tell it like it is and not the way they want it to be,” she said.

Sherrod said Breitbart never contacted her before posting the video clip to ask about it.

“I never heard that name until a few minutes ago,” she said Tuesday night about Breitbart. “He never contacted me. I think they intended it to be what it ended up being, a racist thing that could unite even more the racist people out there who follow them.”

She also said Fox News never checked the facts with her before posting a story and the video clip.

“Not before they reported it,” she said of Fox’s negligence. “They have called me today and initially I had said yes (to an interview), but I thought about it and I did not think they intended to be fair in their reporting. They are going to say what they want to say regardless of what I say.”

She said Fox showed no professionalism in continuing to bother her for an interview, but failing to correct their coverage.

“I think they should but they won’t. They intended exactly what they did. They were looking for the result they got yesterday,” she said of Fox. “I am just a pawn. I was just here. They are after a bigger thing, they would love to take us back to where we were many years ago. Back to where black people were looking down, not looking white folks in the face, not being able to compete for a job out there and not be a whole person.”

Still, Fox continued to push for an interview with her, Sherrod said.

“It was unbelievable. I am refusing to be on there. They have been calling me and calling me. I have refused to do an interview because they are biased,” she explained. “I don’t think Fox News does it fairly. It is worse so now. I have sat and listened to the way they cover the news even before this administration and I saw what was going on.”

Sherrod said this situation has worsened her view of racism in media coverage.

“I think it is race. You think we have come a long way in terms of race relations in this country, but we keep going backwards,” she said. “We have become more racist. This was their doing, Breitbart put that together misrepresenting what I was saying and Fox carried it.”

Sherrod said she has gotten no future job offers and believes this will scar her reputation forever, even if all the facts come out.

“There will be people who always think of this,” she said. “I can see in the future whatever I do, this story will be recounted, no matter what. This will be brought up. People will constantly be trying to point out negative things.”

Have other job offers come up? “No, no one. People are afraid of me now, I guess, with all of this. That is the other fallout from this. Anyone would be afraid of me, maybe I am a troublemaker, a racist.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he is reviewing the matter, hinting that Sherrod could possibly get her job back.

Asked if she would return if asked, she said: “I think I would have to go back for a short time, even if I did not stay for a long haul. I would need to prove a point, that I can be bigger than them. I was doing a lot of good things. People had access to that office that never did before. I had reached out to the poorest counties.”

Despite that, she plans to carry on.

“I will go back to doing what I was doing before, working with people, trying to build,” she said. “There are a lot of projects in Georgia I have been involved in creating. I will get busy with that again.”

Sherrod said she is considering legal action, perhaps against Breitbart, Fox or the federal government:

“I don’t know enough to know. I wish I did. I would love to sue. I am going to talk about it. I have been getting calls from all over the country. I don’t want to leave one stone unturned.”

Sherrod said she has been helped by many media outlets, such as CNN and others that have allowed her to explain the truth, enough so that the NAACP retracted a statement Tuesday that had denounced her.

She said that has convinced her to trust some media outlets, noting she had plans to be on Good Morning America and NPR Wednesday.

“The only one I refused to do is Fox,” she said, adding the fair coverage by others “makes me think highly of some of the media, but not any better about Fox. It is a bad taste in my mouth dealing with them. It would help some if they apologized and say they were wrong, but I don’t see that happening.”

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Why Do We Let Fox & Other Right Wing Outlets Snooker us? Everybody Owes Shirley Sherrod an Apology?

Shirley Sherrod

Below is the NAACP’s original Statement Regarding Shirley Sherrod head of the Department of Agriculture’s rural development office in Georgia, after being ‘snookered’ into thinking she was a racist based upon a video shown by Fox and other right-wing outlets..Proceeding it is the full video of Ms Sherrod’s remarks.. Her speech was about reconciliation and overcoming racial hatred.. Whats even sadder is up til now President Obama is sticking to their guns..All parties involved need to do right by Ms Sherrod starting with some major apologies.

Next everyone involved need to take firm steps to stop validating bloggers Conservative attack dog Andrew Breitbart, Fox News and other outlets who say they are news, but are really invested in spreading propaganda and finding ways to take down or aggressively support those who are out to take down their political enemies. In the case of Breibert, that was his full intention, to embarrass and discredit the NAACP-Mission Accomplished. Up til today the story was the NAACP smashes of the Tea Party and their racism  and how the oldest Civil Rights organization was making moves to become more relevant in the lives of today’s generation. All that was gone in an instant with this ‘snookering’ that took place. There are lots of lessons to be learned here.

First, we have got to stop depending upon media outlets that don’t have our best interest at heart to fully deliver our message. This is especially true of places like Fox News. There have been too many good people who have had their reputations soiled because of Fox and their unrelenting attacks. It ranges from Ludacris to Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Van Jones and Yoshi Sergent to Acorn to now Shirley Sherrod. All the while this is happening, Negro after Negro goes onto one of these shows to do verbal battle with hosts who’ve set things up so you will never ever get the last word.

Second we have got to stop letting them dictate what we will and won’t talk about. This is not limited to Fox.. The other day I saw NAACP head Ben Jealous on TV disavowing the New Black Panther Party.. Why? Whatever they said or done could’ve been disavowed on your own terms years ago. Instead they become a hot button campaign for right wing zealots and suddenly the NAACP and every other Black pundit is on TV  apologozing, distancing themselves and acting like they need to be ashamed.  Not a good look. It reminds me of the old Farrakhan litmus test, where every Black person on TV had to state he did not like the Minister in order to appear creditable.

Shame on us for validating them with our presence. Shame on us for using them as the basis to go after someone who had not only the best of intentions but was setting a good example for all of us to follow. Sherrod’s speech was about reconciliation.

The NAACP would do good by investing time and energy into establishing a series of well heeled local media outlets that speak unapologetically to our issues and forget having to explain and apologizee on outlets that little or no interest in giving us equal footing.

-Davey D-

*** Important Update July 21 2010** According to CNN the Agriculture department is now ‘Considering’ Sherrod’s resignation.. Here’s what they said…

(CNN) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.

“I am, of course, willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner,” Vilsack said in a statement.

Shirley Sherrod — an African-American — resigned Monday under pressure after the video clip first appeared on a conservative website and later on Fox News. In the video, she seemed to tell an audience she did not do her utmost to help a white farmer avoid foreclosure. However, Sherrod later said the clip only shows part of her comments, and that she tells the story of her experience — from nearly a quarter century ago when she was not a federal employee — to illustrate the importance of moving beyond race. continue reading here http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/21/agriculture.employee.usda/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9NcCa_KjXk&feature=player_embedded

NAACP’s Original Statement Condemning Sherrod

According to NAACP head Ben Jealous, he has since called, spoken with and apologized to Sherrod for the remarks below….

NAACP Head Ben Jealous credit: Jeffrey Macmill

NAACP Head Ben Jealous credit: Jeffrey Macmill

We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet.

Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.

The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action.

We thank those who brought this to our national office’s attention, as there are hundreds of local fundraising dinners each year.

Sherrod’s behavior is even more intolerable in light of the US Department of Agriculture’s well documented history of denying opportunities to African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races. Currently, justice for many of these farmers is being held up by Congress. We would hope all who share our outrage at Sherrod’s statements would join us in pushing for these cases to be remedied.

The NAACP will continue to advance the ideals of America and fight for freedom, justice and fairness for all Americans.

N.A.A.C.P. Retracts Bias Accusation

By SARAH WHEATON

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/us/21sherrod.html

The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People apologized Tuesday to a black civil servant whose ouster the civil rights organization had originally cheered.

Last week, the N.A.A.C.P. garnered headlines when it accused parts of the Tea Party movement of being racist. Then, over the weekend, a video emerged of Shirley Sherrod, the head of the Department of Agriculture’s rural development office in Georgia, speaking at an N.A.A.C.P. event in Douglas, Ga., in March. In a two-and-a-half-minute clip, Ms. Sherrod seemed to explain that she discriminated against a white farmer 24 years ago.

Ms. Sherrod said she was pressed to resign after the video whipped around the Web. But she said the clip was misleading. According to Ms. Sherrod and people who have seen the full video, she went on to say in her speech that she had learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices.

After seeing the full video, the N.A.A.C.P. said Tuesday that it had been “snookered” into believing Ms. Sherrod had acted with bias.

“We are in a moment where there is heightened sensitivity and concern, including within the N.A.A.C.P., about discrimination against white people,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, the group’s president. He said the N.A.A.C.P. wanted “to be clear that there’s a single yardstick by which civil rights are judged.”

In the video, which received much airtime on the Fox News Channel on Monday, Ms. Sherrod recalled working for a nonprofit organization in Georgia.

“I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land,” Ms. Sherrod said in the video. “So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”

The video was spotlighted by Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger known for promoting videos that emerged last year and ultimately brought down Acorn, the community organizing group. By Monday evening, Ms. Sherrod was out of her job. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack cited the agency’s “zero-tolerance” policy on discrimination in explaining her ouster.

Ms. Sherrod took to the airwaves, especially those of CNN, on Tuesday. She told the network that the N.A.A.C.P. was “the reason why this happened.”

“They got into a fight with the Tea Party, and all of this came out as a result of that,” she said.

Mr. Breitbart reached a similar conclusion, though from a different perspective. “They’re trying to make this about me and Shirley Sherrod. This is about the N.A.A.C.P.,” he said by phone. He said that the civil rights group had “spent an inordinate amount of airtime trying to brand the Tea Party as racist” while tolerating racism itself.