July 21st, 2010
09:01 PM ET

Evening Buzz: An Apology for Sherrod

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/07/21/agriculture.employee.usda/story.vilsack.apology.pool.jpg caption="Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he apologized to Shirley Sherrod for forcing her to resign from her government job in Georgia." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

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.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Yvette Bateson

    Shirley Sherrod is both inspirational and a true hero. Not only should she get the same job back, but she should have a raise. Seeing her heart and courage when she was publicly slandered reminds me that we are all Americans and should stand together instead of being separated by racism and hate.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  2. Marcia Bordagaray

    My husband and I watched this whole mess yesterday. We were appalled. As this type of smear campaign continues to run rampart within our country without consequences, we must ccontinue to have people like yourself to stand up and hold them accountable.
    Thank you for taking the stand to NOT let broadcasters, no matter who they are or what channel they come from, 'get away with murder.'
    Please please please continue the work to "keep them honest"!!!

    July 21, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  3. Yvette Bateson

    I think that Shirley Sherrod is truly inspirational for all Americans. She should get the same job she had before she was unjustly fired with a raise. We can all learn from her heart and her courage

    July 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  4. Lin em

    Re Shirley sharrods treatment: it like the kkk
    without sheets!

    July 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  5. Al in Delaware

    Seems everyone has apologized for this sordid affair, but FOX, who spread this manure in the first place. I found it amusing that the people who put out this smear, spread it around, and pushed it with all their might were out there today dumping on Vilsak for believing that they were telling the truth. Lesson? Don't Believe a Thing You See on FOX.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  6. JOANN

    Anderson, thank you for keeping them honest. I watch your program every night, and recommend it to all. You are so right about the internet, and the unthruths sent out. I use fact check, and snopes. I am not sure people even read the stuff they send out!! Again we appreciate you and all on AC 360.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  7. Tim

    Wednesday, July-21-10
    So who is the villain? Breitbart, a neo-con whack-job acting true to form; the Whitehouse reacting to a media fuelled National perception that they had a deeply biased employee on the payroll; or that selfsame media that clearly didn’t do their homework?

    How could the Whitehouse act differently given the National perception? If the media hadn’t recanted it would have been impossible for Ms. Sherrod to be re-employed. If the Whitehouse hadn’t caused her to be fired, the story might well have been Whitehouse Backs Racist Employee.

    America really deserves and desperately needs a higher quality Press Corps.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  8. sparkie martin

    The Presidents adminstration needs to draft a letter to her signed by the president ..addressed to her ..its never going to go away..the color of her skin.is her sin .and she will have to live with that all of her natural life...but she can learn how to make her haters her motivators..and hope she will forget and forgive..

    July 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  9. Marilyn Tbeur

    Give her her job back! The same one/title she had! What do you mean, "I hope she condiders staying with the department?" Staying in the department with the same position? I hope so, and I think she should!

    July 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    If we can't determine how much oil really flowed into the Gulf, we ought to just take the highest estimate from the scientists that studied the flow and multiply that by the largest fine amount possible per barrel. That ought to at least get us in the right ballpark for a financial penalty for BP. The fund for the people in the Gulf should be added to as needed and the people there assured of being able to get their actual damages and not some wild estimate of what the damages will be.

    Glad Sherrod got an apology and acknowledgment that the racism she was accused on was wrong and only the product of the efforts of a blogger seeking to make some point for his blog. We all need to remember that just because it is written some place on the Internet doesn't make it true.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm |

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