On Tuesday, Shirley Sherrod, a black USDA employee, resigned, under pressure from the White House, after conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart published a video where she seemed to admit to anti-white discrimination. Except the video shows her saying the exact opposite.
Oh, Christ: Andrew Breitbart did a big journalism again. This time, the Sean Penn-obsessed conservative publisher/writer published a longwinded, terribly-edited screed on his website "Big Government" featuring an ugly graphic of a "race card" (Do you see? DO YOU SEE?!?), and—here's the "journalism" bit—a video of a black government employee named Shirley Sherrod describing "how she racially discriminates against a white farmer." That's the video, up above.
But, well, the story she's telling takes place in the 1980s, when she was working for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, not the government, as Breitbart implies. And, um, also, that's not the whole video. Here's the entire speech, courtesy the NAACP (Sherrod's bit starts around the 16-minute mark):
What Breitbart's video misses is the whole point of her anecdote, which is that the experience she talks about helped her overcome her own prejudices. Realizing the common struggle faced by both poor whites and poor blacks, Sherrod went on to spend two years helping Roger Spooner, the white farmer in question, save his farm. Spooner's wife Eloise considers Sherrod "a friend for life."
So, Andrew Breitbart lied and defamed a government employee. And yet: Sherrod was asked to resign from her position as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's director of rural development for Georgia by her boss, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, apparently without any attempt on the part of Vilsack or the rest of the Obama administration to check up on the origin of the video or the story. And even as the White House attempts to distance itself from her forced resignation, they say they stand by it.
What gives, guys? It's despicable, but we expect this kind of fatuous race-baiting from sleaze like Breitbart. What we don't expect—or what we shouldn't expect—is for the Obama administration to take the bait. The USDA is apparently "reconsidering" her forced departure, but get real: Sherrod should never have been asked to resign, period, and she should be reinstated to her former position immediately.