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You've probably seen the video of USDA employee (now former employee) Shirley Sherrod seemingly admitting to reverse racism:

Sherrod resigned Monday after conservative media outlets aired the video, in which she says she did not give the white farmer "the full force of what I could do" to help him avoid foreclosure.

And if that were the whole story, I would definitely agree that her resignation was warranted.

But as was the case with the famous ACORN "pimp" video, it would appear that once again we're not getting anywhere near the whole story...

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and now CNN, have actually bothered to dig a little deeper, and it's quite different from what you've been hearing.

As TPM summarizes her interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

She tells the paper that the incident she was recounting happened 24 years ago, before she worked for the USDA, that she went on to provide considerable assistance to the farmer, that she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife, and that the whole point of retelling the story was to show how she had managed to move beyond race herself.

And a woman believed to be the wife of the farmer in question confirms it:

A Georgia woman who said she believes her husband is the white farmer referenced in the clip told CNN on Tuesday that Sherrod was helpful to her family and that the couple never felt she was being racist while trying to assist them in avoiding foreclosure.

"She treated us really good and got us all we could," said Eloise Spooner of Iron City, Georgia. Spooner said she remembered that Sherrod helped find an attorney to help her husband, Roger.

If that is indeed the farmer's wife in question, that would make the story we've all been hearing what's known as a lie.

TPM goes on:

But none of that part of her speech is in the clip that Breitbart and Fox are running. We're on the hunt for the full video. The local production company won't release it to us without the sign off of the local NAACP chapter. But the guy who owns the production company confirmed to us over the phone that the entire video matches what Sherrod is saying.

So the guy who shot the original video confirms Sherrod's story as well.

We'll know for certain after (or if) the full video is released, but it appears at the moment that Ms. Sherrod may have been the victim of a smear. Stay tuned.


UPDATE: The farmer's wife calls in to CNN:

Thanks to Random User Name for the tip.

Fox Update:

Here's why you should never give in to rightwing smear jobs. Fox News is seemingly acknowledging that the accusations against Sherrod were false, but what is their spin on it? Ex-Ag Official Says White House Forced Her Out Without Hearing 'Truth' About Video:

The Department of Agriculture official who resigned Monday over a YouTube clip said the White House forced her out of her job without bothering to hear her side of the story.

She said a deputy undersecretary "harassed" her with warnings about the attention she was going to receive...

So there you have it, the new rightwing meme about this whole disgraceful episode: simply pivot away from race-based fearmongering, do a sharp pirouette, and make it all about administration wrongdoing in forcing her to resign! And all of that within 24 hours. You have to admire their gymnastic skills.

The Obama administration simply can't continue to allow themselves to be intimidated by this crap. The lesson, time and again, is simple: no matter what you do, they're still going to go after you. So you might as well do the right thing.


Special thanks to hangingchad in comments for info on how to contact the Secretary of Agriculture. Here's how to share your thoughts with him:

202 720 7100


Many thanks to Adept2u in comments. The NAACP is doing the right thing:

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.


Good for them. See how easy that was Mr. Vilsack?



Thanks to Diogenes2008, who points out that Rachel Maddow will be giving this story "the epic treatment" on tonight's show. Be sure and watch if you can.


I can't thank my commenters enough today. Kudos to jeun28 for pointing me to the full video of Shirley Sherrod at the NAACP banquet:

Or, if you can't view here, you can watch it on YouTube.

The video is long, so I haven't had a chance to watch it all yet. If you do get a chance to watch the whole thing, please weigh in with your comments.


PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT: The relevant portion of the video runs from about 16:40 to 21:30. I should point out that there does appear to be an edit at exactly the 21:00 mark, though it's not clear what was edited. It comes well after the "controversial" part. Here is a partial transcript that I just did:

Sherrod: The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I knew what he was doing. But he had to come to me for help. What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was gonna give him. [audience laughs]. I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farm land, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he...I assumed that the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help. So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chap 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer. So I figured if I take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him. That’s when it was revealed to me that it’s about poor versus those who have. And not so much about white and black. It opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own. And I put him in his hands and felt, "Okay, I’ve done my job."

Sherrod here gives some more background on the legal difficulties the farmer faced, and the lousy job the lawyer had done for him, and how she’d intervened to save the man’s farm. She then continues:

Sherrod: But working with him (the farmer) made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t. They could be black, they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people. Those who don’t have access the way others have.

Originally posted to MeMeMeMeMe on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 09:11 AM PDT.

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