July 21st, 2010
01:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Aides: White House trying to distance Obama from Sherrod controversy

White House aides said Wednesday they do not expect President Barack Obama to call Shirley Sherrod.
White House aides said Wednesday they do not expect President Barack Obama to call Shirley Sherrod.

Washington (CNN) - White House aides said Wednesday they do not expect President Barack Obama to call Shirley Sherrod, the black former USDA employee who resigned after a video clip of her discussing a white farmer surfaced earlier this week.

Obama did not appear at the White House briefing Wednesday to discuss the issue. At the briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs apologized to Sherrod on behalf of the administration.

Last year, the president did make a surprise appearance at a briefing to address reporters regarding the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., even though White House officials had said he wouldn't speak publicly about it.

"No more beer summits here," one aide said. After Gates' arrest, Obama, Gates and police Sgt. James Crowley met at the White House for beers.

Aides are doing all they can to keep the resignation of Sherrod as far away from the president as possible. They are emphasizing that it was not a White House-driven decision and the review of the situation now taking place is not a White House review. The aides said the White House is trying to convey that this story expressly belongs to the Agriculture Department.

White House aides acknowledge that Americans have seen the tape of Sherrod's remarks, that it speaks for itself and that even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has acknowledged the case merits a complete review.

Aides say there was a good deal of debate Tuesday among White House officials over whether Sherrod should resign.

Many initially supported Vilsack's conclusion that her position at USDA had been compromised over the controversy and she should step down, they said. Others believed a more thorough review of her remarks was required.

After the full tape was made available on the internet through the NAACP about 7 p.m. Tuesday, the White House contacted the USDA later that night to push Vilsack to reopen Sherrod's case.

Gibbs confirmed that account at the Wednesday briefing, saying the White House contacted the Agriculture Department on Tuesday night to ensure that "fairness" occurred in the Sherrod case based on the more complete information available about her remarks.


Filed under: President Obama • Tom Vilsack
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Orlando Patriot

    A Leader researches and responds – a follower reacts. What did Obama do? He reacted without knowing the facts. Sound familiar? Obama has done that consistently for the last 2 years. This country needs a leader not a follower. We will start the process in November by getting rid of all these career politicians then in 2012 find a real leader. I don't care if the leader is Republican or Democrat as long as it is someone who knows how an economy ACTUALLY works and realized that they WORK FOR US!!!

    July 21, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Jerry

    The video did exactly what it was meant to do, expose the NAACP as racist, watch the members gleefully and enthusiastically agree and encourage when the white farmer is denied. NAACP equals a racist group; Shirley seems like a fine person though.

    July 21, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. kravitz

    Who's more afraid of having a black president? Now we know. It's the White House, and not the Tea Party. And thank you Ms. Brown for pointing out to the NAACP that perhaps they should have viewed their own video before jumping to conclusions.

    July 21, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Incompetent-DICTATOR

    What??? No telling us that Vilsack "acted stupidly"?!! No telling us that the NAACP "acted stupidly"??!! I guess since they are Obozo lackeys they get a free pass.

    July 21, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. g

    why do people listen to those that would destroy the country like russ and beck

    July 21, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. gt

    its one circus act after another with this adminstration... get this econmy going and get our troops home now...

    July 21, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Sir Craig

    Obama should most definitely say something; he should acknowledge that his administration, as well as most of the media, jumped the gun and were taken by someone with a clear political agenda and offer an apology to Sherrod.

    Because you know Breitbart and Faux News sure aren't going to take the high road...

    July 21, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Angus McDugan

    As long as Obama uses race as a political tool, he will never work to help ease race relations in this country.

    July 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Blaum

    What a joke this White House is......

    Gibbs is a clown too....

    July 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. jenn, philadelphia

    I thought earlier these same aides said the President was "fully briefed". Now, the story is that he had nothing to do with the firing. What happened to "the buck stops here"? Maybe he can blame this on George Bush.

    July 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. marcia

    only a cowardly administration would distance it's self!

    July 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If anyone should be apologizing, it's Sec. Vilsack. Know the facts before opening your mouth.

    July 21, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Tori in Texas

    So, let me get this straight:

    1) A liar named Britebart posts a cut video showing seemingly racist language by a black woman talking about an eye opening incident where she learned a lesson about racism over 20 years ago.

    2) FOX, as expected, jumps on the bandwagon and pushes the story.

    3) The news stations on cable, not wanting to get behind the others on the story runs with it without checking it for accuracy. No one calls Ms. Sherrod for verification.

    4)Rick Sanchez and Brooke B on CNN actually do some investigation AFTER Roland Martin gives his opinion on the story.

    5) Best live TV of the week on Tuesday – Ms. Sherrod kicks Mr. Martin's arse and gives him a lesson in verification before espousing one's opinion on national TV. Mr. Martin still won't apologize due to his huge ego.

    6) White House now involved in another small potatos issue, instead of what's really important, thanks to a non-journalist and an opinion/entertainment channel.

    Lesson learned: Never trust FOXSpews on anything. Period.

    July 21, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Dale

    Another in the growing list of examples of how the Obama adminstration reacts before it gets the facts necessary to make an informed decision because it perceives a political expendiency to be on a certain side of an issue.

    July 21, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Eric

    Why won't Barry come back with a quick stroke of justice and declare Sherrod was acting "stupidly" for openly admitting discriminating against a white person while in her role as a government official.

    Oh, that's right... this IS the Bigot-in-Chief we are talking about.

    By any means necessary, right Barry?

    July 21, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Joan

    The NAACP and Department of Agriculture are both guilty of believing what the conservative website and Fox News were spewing all over the airwaves. How gullible of them to actually believe a Conservative outlet could be telling the truth. It should teach them a lesson to never again believe Conservative commentators. They should have known better in the first place. It should also serve to alert the rest of the media and all voters that Fox News and its affiliates don't care one bit about the truth. Their agenda is altering the truth to suit their purposes and sway their flock of listeners.

    July 21, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Not possible. Everyone knows, that the WH had a hand in that, if nothing else, from Obama's high level staff.

    July 21, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. jeff jackson, alabama

    The racial prejudice this woman showed in that
    tape was pretty much conclusive.

    July 21, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. OBOZO'S RECORD DEFICITS

    OBOZO and his WH is so disfunctional, it is an abosolute joke.

    This woman committed discrimination, so the fact she was fired, is fine by me.

    July 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. T

    Who cares about the President will not talk with her. What is more important is who put this out, who edit the type and why did FOX News rolled this out. Now they act like nothing happen CNN. Why are you not talking about that?????????What is your motive ?

    July 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Victim of GOP Taliban

    What exactly does this have to do with the President? Ah ok that's right because Faux News lied and spin the facts around to make it look like she said those things now....when we now know it was 24 years ago.

    July 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. geecee

    I am sure President Obama learned his lesson after the Professor Gates episode. He is still getting lambasted for that one from the racist right. In any event, these Breitbart types are going after every single thing they can find on any black organization in this entire country. Look what they did to ACORN? Now they are after the NAACP. Unbelievable. It's so obvious, they hate Obama and want to punish every black person they can possibly get some dirt on and let's be honest, there is a lot of dishonesty, distrust and blatant racism in many organizations, both black and white. As for the New Black Panther Party, they are so small as to be totally inconsequential and I hardly think they will ever amount to a significant group or become a threat to anyone. If two ignorant, stupid guys "threatened" anyone at a polling place (which was almost totally Democratic and in a black neighborhood) I don't particular feel it means these guys are on the rise again. They may have had somewhat legitimate concerns and relevance back in the late 60's, but not today. Today we need to fear the Tea Party and their constant (but subliminal) threats about using the Second Amendment to "take back the country." Now, that's scary!

    July 21, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Susan

    Of course he's not going to get involved. After all, this is only a woman losing her job and her reputation! No big deal, right?

    July 21, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. felicia

    I'm glad, because they're always trying to trap President Obama into doing something. I feel bad about what happen to ms sherrod, but this is not President Obama's fault and i hope the media stop tryna put this on my President. President Obama still has a lot of support and we still care about our President.

    July 21, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Shawn-Ga

    It is the police case all over again... he shot from the hip and said the "cops acted stupidly" before he even knew what was going on. Then once he found out he had a "beer summit" to minimize the damages done.

    July 21, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
1 2 3