Shirley Sherrod can have a new job at the USDA if she wants it. That's what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters this evening. He also apologized to Sherrod for forcing her to resign on Monday based on the edited video of a speech she gave in March.
"This is a good woman. She's been put through hell," Vilsack said of Sherrod.
Vilsack said he learned a lot from this experience.
"I didn't take the time, I should have. And as a result, a good woman ... went through a very difficult period, and I will have to live with that for a long, long time."
The leader of the USDA went on to say, "I hope she considers staying with the department."
He also reiterated "this was my decision."
Vilsack's mea culpa comes just a couple hours after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters "without a doubt Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology."
Sherrod welcomed the message from Vilsack.
"This shouldn't have happened. It took too long. But it makes me feel better," she told CNN.
In the edited video posted online by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod, who is African-American, tells a Georgia chapter of the NAACAP on March 27 that she did not give a white farmer "the full force of what she could do" to help him save his farm more than 20 years ago.
But later in the tape, which was not posted online by Breitbart, Sherrod goes on to tell the audience, "working with [the farmer] made me see that it's really about those who have versus those who have not. They could be black. They could be white. They could be Hispanic."
It turned out Sherrod actually did help the white farmer, Roger Spooner, save his farm. Spooner came forward Tuesday to tell CNN, "I don't know what brought up the racist mess."
Tonight we learned Breitbart has posted two corrections on his blog entries about the video. We'll have that for you tonight.
Anderson will also talk with Sherrod. The big question: Will she return to the USDA?
You'll also hear from four people who were in the audience last March in Georgia when Sherrod gave the speech.
Conservative blogger Breitbart has taken aim at all who were present.
"What you see on the video are people in the audience at an organization whose sole job is to fight against discrimination and they're applauding her overt racism that she is representing," he said last night on CNN's John King USA.
The five people we spoke to vehemently disagree. Hear what that have to say about this controversy tonight on the program.
We also have developments on the Gulf oil disaster. Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the spill said today BP could try the 'static kill' by this weekend to permanently seal the broken well. That's if the weather cooperates.
We'll check in with meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest on the tropical system that could pose trouble for the Gulf.
And keep in mind, the 'static kill' could bury the only hard evidence we'll have on how much oil was flowing into the Gulf, meaning our government could miss out the proper fine for BP. We’re keeping them honest on that angle of the story.
Join us for all this and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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