July 20th, 2010
08:10 PM ET

Evening Buzz: NAACP: We were 'snookered' by Sherrod tape

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Did the Obama Administration and NAACP rush to judge Shirley Sherrod, the U.S. Agriculture Department official, who says she was forced to resign?

Sherrod says yes.

At issue is the video posted online that shows Sherrod delivering a speech in March at a dinner for a Georgia NAACP chapter. In the clip that has a lot of people talking, Sherrod, who is black, described a 1986 encounter with a white farmer before she had the USDA job, when she was working for the nonprofit Federation of the Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund.

The video shows Sherrod telling the audience that the white farmer "took a long time... trying to show me he was superior to me." That led her, she said, to not "give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough."

Though, Sherrod says the clip originally posted by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart and picked up by Fox News, doesn't tell the whole story.

"I did not discriminate against him (the farmer). And in fact, I went all out. I had to frantically look for a lawyer at the last minute because the first lawyer we went to was not doing anything to really help him," Sherrod said.

Roger Spooner, told CNN he's the farmer she speaks of in the video. He has nothing but praise for her.

"If it hadn't been for her, we would've never known who to see or what to do," said Spooner. "She led us right to our success."

Tonight on 360°, you'll hear from Spooner. You'll also hear from Sherrod and get to listen to the other part of the tape in question that wasn't posted online - until today.

The USDA isn't backing down. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said her resignation was necessary because it "compromises the director's ability to do her job."

He also said the push for her to step down did not come from the White House.

"I made this decision, it's my decision. Nobody from the White House contacted me about this at all," he said.

Meantime, the NAACP has changed its tune. Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the civil rights' group, released a new statement today after reviewing the entire video.

"With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias," the statement reads.

"Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans."

Later in the statement, Jealous writes, "While we understand why Secretary Vilsack believes this false controversy will impede her ability to function in the role, we urge him to reconsider."

This is in sharp contrast to the NAACP's first news release issued late Monday when the organization backed Vilsack's decision.

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

Anderson will also talk with Jealous tonight about the controversy.

You’ll also hear from Breitbart, who told CNN, “This was not about Shirley Sherrod.”

“This was about the NAACP attacking the Tea Party and this [the video of Sherrod] is showing racism at an NAACP event. I did not ask for Shirley Sherrod to be fired. I did not ask for any repercussions for Shirley Sherrod,” he added.

In the meantime, what do you think? Should Sherrod get her job back? Sound off below.

See you at 10 pm. ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. larry

    how many people get hurt from the right before something is done

    July 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  2. the issue

    Ms. Sherrod,
    Get a lawyer and sue Biertbart for slander!!!!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  3. michelle benjamin

    Its terrible that a person who is trying to speak honestly, can be so misrepresented. The internet can be a dangerous place. I don't know why Mrs. Sherrod cannot be reinstated to her job. Obviously a mistake was made. Lets show that things can be corrected, apologize for the error and give her her job back. Its the right thing to do. It is scary to me that a person can be ruined for not doing anything wrong and at the same time there are people who are doing the wrong thing and never have a consequence. Shameful!!!!!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  4. amc

    Anderson how did that tape get in that guy's hand

    in the first place thayt's who I think and probably

    all of america where's is he... seems to me he

    doesn't want to be heard from..

    July 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  5. Rod in L.A

    it is not wrong to condem racism even if it is done in error for that can be corrected it is wrong not to condem it when it is proven

    July 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  6. barry c

    this woman should have her job back.....this is what is wrong with our country....a total disregard for justice

    July 20, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  7. Alicia

    With the mid term elections coming up everyone is so up tight about all things racial it seems. If the right can scream that blacks are as racist as well as whites and get enough people upset, they can get a lot of angry people to the polls. Of course the majority of the voters are white. The racial divide seems to be getting wider. Are we going backwards because we have a black president? This is progress? I read the racist comments that people can leave on blogs without identifying themselves. It's disturbing to say the least. Are we starting to draw a line in the sand? The radio and television personalities exploit this to the maximum. It's sickening and makes me sad. I'm a teacher and it's a joy to see children enjoy each other without regard to race.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  8. Fed Up

    There's a saying that a hit dog hollers. The tea party, fox and breitbart are one in the same. The tea party was called out so they sent their hit men out to retaliate.

    Only in America.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  9. kenneth

    i will never vote for obama again and as for naacp these people are a joke.and thats why i will never join as a black man.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  10. Darlene

    I watched this entire video, anyone that had a finger in this mess need to apologize to Shirley Sherrod and she should be given back her job. People this is 2010, this is the USA. Everyone that is a legal American citizen is here to stay in this country. I can't believe how people call themselves Christian's and go to church and praise GOD, but have hatred in their hearts. Please read your bible and understand it, if you don't understand it, please see your priest, pastor, etc. Damn!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  11. Phill Saunders

    Mr.Obama don't know how to govern. First he had the General fly half way around the world to come and explain what he said to Rolling Stone magazine. This lady in in Georgia, he could have had her fly to Washington to explain what she said. Had he done that, he probably wouldn't have met with the lady because the truth would have been out before she landed. Now let's see how long it will take for him to put his tail between his leg and get that lady her job back. I bet she voted for him.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  12. Judy McDonald

    For Anderson Cooper 360:

    And 6 years up the road from Valerie Plame Wilson, we have Shirley Sherrod....and no one willing to accept the blame.... never will be... SAD!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  13. james

    Im sorry but if your conducting an investigation and evidence like a video emerges it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that snippets of some video reel isn't going to yeild enough potatoes to propell for a decisive decision to pick and choose side. One could say the NAACP was on autopilot.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Mary Jean Collins

    Sharon Sherrod should get her job back. She is a model of change for the better and hope for race in America

    July 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  15. micheal williams

    Why is it that when blacks are accused of being racist its all of sudden a blow in the gut. See how people rush to judgement before they actually know the whole story. This is just the Tea Party trying to cause more problems for the Obama administration and the NAACP. They (NAACP)should have found out the truth before worrying about their image, further more the head of the Agriculture Dept said he was the final say so on firing her.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  16. g johnson

    website publisher Andrew Breitbart should be arrested ' that should be ilegal to deceive people like that..

    July 20, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  17. juan

    once again, Fox "fixed" news shows its true colors. while you were talking to Ms Sherrod, Fox news had Karl Rove on talking about Rev Wright. While Rove was talking the news tracker said it was the white house that started this story. This is another example of how fox news does not know a thing about investigative journalism. it was an attempt to get the racist spotlight off the tea party issue and put it squarly on the back of an innocent person. if i was Ms Sherrod, id sue fox news for airing this hogwash.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  18. Self Reflection

    I am disappointed at the Obama administration and the NAACP!! I have been losing support for Obama for the last year. This is a good woman. Obama is a weak leader. How is this woman's firing justified? The couple in question, they are soooo appreciative of her! She went out of her way to do her job. She saved their farm. If this woman is not reinstated they will lose my vote. I am so disappointed.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  19. Natty

    I think that she should get her job back. Come on! I mean we the people might not have gotten the whole story, Snookered? LoL! I was watching this live now. SHe helped a bunch of people and she has had the job a long time and just fire her for a mistake that didnt even happen? But she accuses the White House... i dont think the white house was in this. Ms. Sherrod is telling the story about what happened to prove a point! Now this is live and she is out of a job. Many of the people today are already out of a job. So for a mistake that didnt even happen why should she looose her job! Get real. Forgive and Forget.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Jane Bock

    Rehire Ms Sherrod. Her talk to the NAACP sounds inspirational. Fire Tom Vilsack for his unjust action!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
  21. Robert Parker

    She is effectually saying that she used to be an on the job racist but that she no longer is. She still uses very racist language even in speaking in interviews now. She "was encouraging those in the audience to get beyond race" – yet she allowed the audience members to rally along with her racist comments without holding up her hand and saying hold on now- that's not what I am getting at.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  22. Kathy Leber

    To take a statement out of context and blast it all over the airwaves is what Fox News is known for. Ms. Sherrod was trying to tell her audience how she grew in understanding that we all have to work together. If they had played the entire speech Fox would have understood what she was conveying. I feel she should be given her job back with a raise.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  23. Becca

    Ms. Sherrod seems to define the words, class and grace. That is true beauty. She speaks the truth for all who care to do the right thing and has the strength to stand up to the ugliness in the world!

    July 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  24. larryboy

    It seems that the only thing President Obama is quick about is a rush to judgment. He's become very predictable. It has and will continue to cost him.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  25. John

    I am ashamed to say that I rushed to judgement on this lady and partly because the woman is black. After I saw the full video I realized what i had done and have to take a good look at myself.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    Too many times people are hung on a statement they made which was not reported in its full context and the press and the others take it at face value and do not research the statement to find out if it was truly said and what if said it meant. I see a lot of this in the work place on all levels – it seems like the first person to report something on another person is listened to and the other person fired without being asked their side of the story or without any other basis except what the first person said – even when untrue. This isn't fair to any of us and needs to be stopped. Due process is due us in court – we ought to have it in these sorts of situations as well; otherwise some people will continue to be fired wrongly.

    I did have to giggle at the NAACP saying they were snookered – at least they were honest enough to say it.

    July 20, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  27. Gary Roberson, California

    Ms. Sherrod has been treated unfairly. She seems to be a very nice, caring person. She is the type of person who should be in a position of helping others. Besides, I don’t see anything wrong with her speech. As a retired school teacher, at the end of each school year, I have always felt that I did not do enough for my students. I always felt that there was more that I could have done. That does not mean that I was a bad teacher. It simply means that by experience I got better at what I was doing. Ms. Sherrod should get her job back with a promotion, a raise, and a public apology.

    July 20, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  28. vicki

    All I will say is the FCC should revoke Fox News license! ASAP!

    July 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  29. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    Not only should she get her job back, it is imperative that she return to service immediately. The NAACP admitted they were "snookered" by Fox News and Fox News is exactly where the problem lies. Not only with this incident, but with countless others as well. Whatever Fox News says, must be carefully scutinized for distortions of facts. I believe if CNN and other news organizations do this, they will find that the news story is not the real story, but is Fox News itself!

    July 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  30. Robert

    The real snookering is done by the NAACP. By definition, "diversity" means "diversity," not the most-black. By definition, "diversity" is what you get if you threw everyone's name into a kaleidoscope and let random variation determine the distribution pattern. In Atlanta, check out local post offices, census jobs, even GSU non-faculty employees, and what you get is aracial profile that is much more heavily black than a fair and equitable hiring system would result in. When 10 of 13 or 9 of 11 positions are filled by blacks, in a city that's only 54% black, that's NOT diversity.

    July 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  31. Mehdi Joseph Karbasi

    I dont understand how she says she "didnt give the force of what she could do." Implying she could have saved their farm. yet didnt save the farm, then the farmer comes out "only to praise her." What is being said by both parties is just not adding up. Reguardless of seeing the whole video or not she STILL didnt help them to to the full of her ability. Its smells fishy to me Anderson. As you always do, you should get to the bottom of it, and tell us the real story.

    July 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  32. Elaine

    Some things never change........................

    It would appear that Tea Party and Fox News might have won this battle. (there is still a war). I am ashamed of the USDA and the adminstration for the treatment of this woman.

    They could have called her in and treated her with the dignity allowed any EMPLOYEE.....

    Shame on you, Breitbart!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These type of actions will harm your Tea Party..............................................................................................................

    July 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  33. lee steedley

    i am a white female from the south, and from what i have seen of the video and news stories, this lady appears to have been unfairly terminated from her position. i sincerely hope she is re instated, with a full apology

    July 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  34. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    A better issue for the NAACP is why did they not do anything in March?

    July 20, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  35. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Ha, Ha, the NAACP was 'snookered'? They rushed to judgement without the facts. In the words of Obama they 'acted stupidly' and did the Administration.

    July 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm |

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