Tuesday was all about ex-USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who said she was pressured to quit her job after she was accused of making racist comments. Those remarks were part of a video clip that was posted over the weekend on a conservative blogger’s website and subsequently aired on Fox.
CNN picked up the story Tuesday morning, telling Sherrod’s side of the story, and by Tuesday night there had been a complete 180 in the matter. Those who initially criticized her, including the NAACP, have now said they were duped by the clip. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that he’s reviewing Sherrod’s case.
– Last week, the NAACP accused the Tea Party of protecting racist elements in its movement.
– Over the weekend, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart published part of a video of Sherrod giving a speech at a March 27, 2010, NAACP dinner. In the 2 1/2-minute video, she appears to be talking about how she treated a white farmer in a 1986 case. At the time, she was not employed by the USDA. Her remarks seem racist.
– Fox News picks up the video, airs it and writes about it on its site.
– Monday, Sherrod resigns. She says she was pressured by at least four phone calls from her superiors telling her the "White House" wants her to leave her job as the head of the Department of Agriculture's rural development office in Georgia.
– Tuesday morning, CNN breaks the story about Sherrod's resignation.
– Sherrod defends herself on CNN, saying her comments have been taken out of context. She urges everyone to watch the full video of her speech in which she goes on to tell the audience that she learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices.
– The NAACP and pundits such as CNN's Roland Martin are critical of Sherrod.
– The white farmer and his wife tell CNN that they stand behind Sherrod and call her a friend. They say she actually helped them save their farm from foreclosure. The farmer calls it "hogwash" that anyone would accuse Sherrod of being racist.
– By midafternoon Tuesday, CNN reports that the White House is denying any involvement in Sherrod's resignation.
– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he stands behind the department's actions and the White House played no role in the matter. He cites the agency's "zero tolerance" policy on discrimination in explaining her ouster.
– Tuesday evening, the conservative blogger who first posted the video, Andrew Breitbart, talks to CNN's John King. Breitbart says his actions were "never about Shirley Sherrod" but about the Tea Party and the NAACP. "This was about the NAACP attacking the Tea Party, and this is showing racism at an NAACP event," Breitbart said. "I did not ask for Shirley Sherrod to be fired."
– By Tuesday night, the white farmer appears on "Anderson Cooper 360" to talk about his experience with Sherrod, calling what has happened to her "ridiculous."
– The NAACP says "it was snookered" by Breitbart and now wants the USDA to rehire Sherrod.
– Wednesday morning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he'll investigate whether Sherrod was treated fairly.