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Obama’s Shame and the Firing of Shirley Sherrod

Who is to blame for the fiasco in which a good woman was defamed and fired because of an maliciously edited video showing what appeared to be racist comments, but which was actually a story of racial redemption?

First of all, Andrew Breitbart, who presented the video, and the non-journalists who failed to question whether it was the whole story, including Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

But these people are professional performance artists. They’re highly paid to rant and rave and be irresponsible. Unfortunately, in today’s media environment, people think they are journalists.

The real problems here are the NAACP, the White House, and other liberal organizations hoping to undermine the Tea Party and Sarah Palin by suggesting they are racist.

Every group has a few bad apples, and some tiny number of Tea Partiers are probably racist at the core. Some tiny number of any group is racist at the core. The vast majority are not. The Tea Party movement is not.

The NAACP, in a transparent effort to try to pump up the issue, earlier this month demanded that Tea Party leaders rebuke those in their organization who are racist.

It was an effort to play the race card against a movement that is a clear threat to Democratic rule. The race card has been viewed in this case as a potent weapon since the unsubstantiated charges by black House leaders who provocatively walked through a throng of Tea Partiers in Washington some weeks back and exclaimed they’d been jeered as if it was the Selma March all over again. No proof of this – other than their claims – has emerged.

The White House has stood by and allowed the smearing of a mass movement that they know could carry Obama right out of office. So when evidence surfaced this week that an administration official was guilty of reverse racism, the administration acted quickly, firing her without examining the evidence. They did so, I believe, because a ranting racist in the administration would ruin the storyline that the president’s opponents are a bunch of bigots.

Obama shows the Emancipation Proclamation to a group of African American guests at the White House this past January

President Obama, particularly as the first black president, has an obligation to object to race baiting. He has a duty to put in their place those who seek to foster racial tension in our society. In this case he has failed, miserably.

Let’s be clear about one thing: The Agriculture Department does not fire anyone based on racially tinged comments without running it by the White House first.

I’ve covered the White House for 13 years. Shirley Sherrod was not cashiered without at least the acquiescence of senior White House officials, and more likely, active pressure from them. This is what the Ag official who told her to resign said was happening, and I believe it.

According to POLITICO, Jim Messina, a top White House political hack, praised the quick firing of Sherrod at the Tuesday morning senior staff meeting.

The White House needs to investigate who in the West Wing knew about the decision to fire Sherrod and what they did about it.

White Hous Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will not say which of the president’s aides might have known what. He said that “not to my knowledge” were there any instructions from the White House to agriculture officials to fire Sherrod. “Not to my knowledge” is very different from “no.” Here’s something else Gibbs said:

Now, as you saw Secretary Vilsack’s statements from last evening, now that we have greater knowledge and a broader fact set, he is going to review all of those facts, and that’s what he’ll talk to Ms. Sherrod about today.

It looks, then, like the Agriculture Secretary is going to do the investigation. There will be an effort to keep this as far away from the White House as possible and let the Ag Department take the fall. That’s what’s called a coverup.

Of course, the big problem for the White House may be the possibility that the one who knew and perhaps even ordered the firing is the one who is in charge.

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11 Responses to Obama’s Shame and the Firing of Shirley Sherrod

  1. As a journalist, just how do the pundits on Fox force the WH not to do due diligence on a internet blog by a known antagonist? You’ve fallen into the WH program by blaming the right-wing press of causing all of our problems.
    When the Prez blames the Repubs for the failure to pass a program they endorse, MSM never points out that the Dems hold the majority votes in both houses and could pass any dang thing they want. Let’s be honest and objective, not partisan. All Repubs aren’t evil, all Dems aren’t benevolent.
    When the cast of MSNBC’s Morning Joe program acknowledges that they have been provided with ‘talking points’ by the WH staff to use on their show, they lose all credibility as news journalists and gain the reputation of WH hacks. The press is supposed to be non-partisan, objective which is why they are protected by the Constitution. The story on this narrative by a federal employee is not that it was presented to the public, but that it struck fear in the White House administration. The question is Why?

    • I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t say Fox forced the White House not to do due diligence. I said White House’s own eagerness to keep the story line running that the Tea Party is racist did.

  2. Keith, I’m surprised you haven’t called for a “beer summit” now that Sherrod is asking for a sit down with Obama. Makes for good timing considering were nearing the 1-year anniversary of Gates and Crowley having brews at the White House.

    Call it a “wine conference” that involves the First Lady and Biden. The VP could lighten the mood by recounting his gaffe that all 7/11s in Delaware were operated by Indians. The White House press corps could have a field day with Gibbs by repeatedly asking whether Sherrod preferred red or white wine.

  3. I get your point.
    Perhaps you could explain why the “first” people to blame are the video blogger and Fox’s Hannity,et al? The blogger’s point was not to what was said, but that the group voiced their pleasure at her original racist actions.
    Someone gave that video to the blogger because he wasn’t at that NAACP meeting. Perhaps that person is the “first” to blame.
    The “blame” is referring to what point? That she was fired, that the WH is lying about their involvement, or should we go to the NAACP casting aspersions on people they don’t know?

    • I think Breitbart’s explanations of what he was doing have shifted, but I haven’t followed his comments closely. Either way they put up an incomplete video – which BTW other conservatives like Glenn Beck passed on for this very reason – that smeared a woman who was trying to do something good. And my point is that the ultimate responsibility rests with those who have injected race unnecessarily into the political discourse, and that ain’t the conservatives.

  4. I stood up for her at first, too. Being asked to pull off the road and resign? Then I remembered, it’s really hard to get rid of a govt employee. It’s not like she disappears as a problem if she resigns…so that was weird. If you listen to her whole speech, she does view things through a racial prism–and why does the Ag Dept have tens of thousands of civil rights cases–someone should look into that. And she sued before–and got to keep some of the money. I bet she sues again. And her comments about Fox–that it is dedicated to keeping blacks looking at the floor and not into the eyes of whites…uh, evidence of that? So, she will enjoy her 15 mins. Vilsack will not enjoy reading the talking pts they gave him, and the whole thing is lame as hell unless it uncovers why the Ag Dept is being so mean to black farmers, and female ones..

  5. […] But Shirley ain’t stupid. She knows full well her 15 minutes of fame is far from up. We’re at, like, minute one. Her firing was an exercise not only in sublime incompetence, but in raw political calculation by the White House. The Obama people,  as I wrote earlier today, were pretty sure that having what they thought was a racist around in the administration would detract from efforts to call their opponents racists. […]