Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Andrew Breitbart v. Shirley Sherrod

Not long after the NAACP accused the Tea Party of harboring racists, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart fired back by posting a video excerpt from an NAACP meeting in which Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, appeared to describe how she had racially discriminated against a white farmer — as the audience nodded approvingly. Once the footage surfaced, Sherrod resigned. Everyone rushed to judgment — even the NAACP condemned her remarks. But a day later, a Washington 180 ensued, as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized for forcing Sherrod to step down. The White House embarrassment stemmed from reports that Breitbart had posted an edited version of the speech, lacking the latter half in which Sherrod described how the white farmer had led her to see beyond race, to see him as another poor person getting shafted by the system. Although Breitbart denied that he set out to frame her, Sherrod announced plans to sue him. And in November Sherrod's lawyer blasted ABC for inviting Breitbart to be a commentator on Election Night, likening the network's decision to "giving a Klansman an award for burning a cross on Shirley Sherrod's house." On Election Day, ABC changed its tune, dropping Breitbart from its primetime lineup.