Meet the latest victim of the sleazy, slimey right-wing Fox News smear machine: Shirley Sherrod, formerly of the Department of Agriculture. Sherrod was employed by the U.S. federal government until yesterday, when video footage surfaced on conservative pundit and blowhard Andrew Breitbart's blog (BigGovernment.com). The footage appeared to show Sharrod admitting to racial discrimation towards a white farmer, while speaking at an NAACP event, when she worked for the Department of Agriculture.
However, the video clip which appeared on Breitbart's blog was heavily edited, which Fox News in turn ran rampant with, in an effort to smear Sherrod. Unfortunately, due to this fake and contrived right-wing outrage, and the Obama administration's wimpy stance when it comes to Fox and right-wing media, Sherrod was essentially forced to resign from a senior position with the Department of Agriculture.
When the full video of her speech at the NAACP event was made public and the correct context of her remarks were revealed, Sherrod was actually referring to an incident in the 1980s when she worked for a non-profit organization. In the incident Sherrod related at the NAACP event, Sherrod was initially hesitant to help a white farmer who she felt at the time was speaking down to her. However, Sherrod concluded that her initial reaction was wrong, and she did in fact assist the farmer and saved his farm. The farmer, Roger Spooner, appeared on CNN yesterday and defended Sherrod against Andrew Breitbart's and Fox News' smear campaign, and said that Sherrod saved his farm:
Eloise Spooner, the wife of Roger Spooner, also came to Sherrod's defence:
"We probably wouldn't have (our farm) today if it hadn't been for her leading us in the right direction. I wish she could get her job back because she was good to us, I tell you."
Spooner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she considered Sherrod a "friend for life," and that "the federal official worked tirelessly to help" the Spooner's keep their farm as they faced bankruptcy in 1986.
"Her husband told her, 'You're spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,'" Spooner told the Journal-Constitution. "She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us out."
The NAACP retracted a previous statement which condemned Sherrod for racial discrimination, and said she was treated unfairly. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said they were "snookered" into believing that Sherrod admitted to racial discrimination at a local NAACP meeting in Georgia earlier this year. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this morning that he would reconsider the Department of Agriculture's decision to ask for Sherrod's resignation.
"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.
As many came to Sherrod's defense, and as Sherrod went to the media to plead her case, the Obama administration faced criticism that they are not only nervous about racial perceptions, but also willing to believe any accusations from Fox News and right-wing media, that they had overreacted and made Sherrod a political sacrifice.
Andrew Breitbart presented the edited video of Sherrod addressing the NAACP event as evidence that the NAACP was being hypocritical for condemning racist elements within the Tea Party movement. Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart and BigGovernment.com are the same culprits who attempted to smear ACORN using the same tactics: heavily edited video footage.
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous slammed Breitbart for his sleazy, underhanded tactics, by deceiving millions of people by releasing only partial clips, edited together, in order to smear Sherrod. Jealous said the full video proves that Sherrod was telling a story of racial unity:
"The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition."
Here's a clip from a few years back of Andrew Breitbart on Real Time with Bill Maher displaying his incredible ignorance (ie "the black studies intelligentsia crowd", and getting completely schooled and put in his place by Michael Eric Dyson:
This is how the likes of Andrew Breitbart, Fox News and the conservative media operate: they lie, manipulate, and smear. They're out to ruin the lives of those who they oppose on political grounds, because they can't challenge them on the issues, nor on an intellectual level.
Finally, for a full recap of the entire story and an examination of the Andrew Breitbart and Fox News smear, the Obama administration's habit of giving into any right-wing smear, as well as Shirley Sherrod's speech to the NAACP event, here's a segment which ran on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program last night: