Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Things that change when the truth becomes known:

1) The NAACP retracts their original damning statement regarding Shirley Sherrod:

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.

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.

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech. They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption.

The USDA, who stood firmly by their resignation request and acceptance is now saying, "Of course we'll review it."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.

"I am, of course, willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner," Vilsack said in a statement.

Even Glenn Beck who was one of the first to shout "Off with her head," is now playing magician and magically erasing not only his involvement in spreading "the news" but also absolving Andrew Breitbart, FOXNews and all of it's assorted front men of any culpability by laying all of the blame firmly where he thinks it belongs - on The White House.

Glenn Beck devoted the first twenty minutes of this evening's Fox News program to attacking the Obama administration for their response to the release yesterday of heavily-edited clips a speech then-USDA official Shirley Sherrod gave. Beck savaged them for not waiting to see the full context of her comments before attacking her, saying that it appeared that she was discussing a "turning point," and said that she shouldn't have been fired.

But Beck -- while claiming that "Context matters" -- somehow manages to erase Andrew Breitbart and Fox News from the creation of that image.

All Beck says about Breitbart is that he's "trying to get the full video." In fact, it was Breitbart, without having that full video (the "context" that "matters") who originally posted the clip, claiming that it was "video evidence of racism" by Sherrod, and illustrating his post with an actual "race" card. Breitbart called her a racist without knowing the context of her statements, and has subsequently said that the context doesn't matter, that what he saw in the clip is sufficient to support his claims. Beck doesn't mention that -- in fact, he actively suggests the opposite is true, that Breitbart is engaging in responsible journalism.

Beck does not mention Fox's own horrendous coverage, which certainly did not wait for "context" before declaring Sherrod a racist.'s first report on Sherrod -- the first mainstream report on her speech -- gave no indication that her comment might have been taken out of context. It reported that Fox was "seeking a response from both the NAACP and the USDA," but not that they had attempted to find the full version of the tape or contact Sherrod herself. In the network's first coverage of the comments, Bill O'Reilly said they were "simply unacceptable" and called on Sherrod to "resign immediately." Newt Gingrich said that her comments indicated a "viciously racist attitude," Sean Hannity called them "racially charged," and the Fox and Friends co-hosts agreed they were "Exhibit A" of "what racism looks like."

Sue 'em all, Shirley, sue 'em all.

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