(CNN) – Howard Dean is charging that Fox News was not only irresponsible with their coverage of the Shirley Sherrod story, but downright racist.
Appearing on the network's Sunday show, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and onetime presidential candidate said Fox should have more thoroughly investigated the edited footage that appeared to portray Sherrod telling an NAACP crowd that she refused to help a farmer because he was white.
"I don't think you're a racist," Dean said to Fox News host Chris Wallace, "but Fox News did something that was absolutely racist. They had an obligation to find out what was really in the clip. They had been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this business and this Sotomayor and all this other stuff."
Wallace responded that Fox did not air the footage until the USDA had already forced Sherrod to resign. Howard Kurtz, a media critic for the Washington Post and a CNN contributor, has noted this is largely true except for comments from host Bill O'Reilly, who called for Sherrod's ouster before the USDA official had formally resigned.
(CNN) - After a week where President Obama initially appeared to try to avoid personal involvement in a national, racial controversy but then made the personal gesture of reaching out to former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, a one-time adviser told CNN Obama is comfortable with issues of race but is president “for all Americans on all issues.”
Earlier this week, Obama had a telephone conversation with Sherrod, who is African-American, after she resigned in the wake of the release of a videotape of a speech she’d given at an NAACP event in March. The portions initially published on the internet by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart made it appear that Sherrod was relating how she had not done all she could to help a white farmer. The subsequent release of a tape of her full remarks made it clear that Sherrod was recounting the story of her interaction with the white farmer and his wife well before she joined the USDA in 1986 as a way to explain how she got beyond race and began to see some issues that had a racial component as being driving instead by class and socio-economic differences.
Obama, who had initially supported the Agriculture Secretary's decision to ask for Sherrod's resignation, spoke to Sherrod by phone Thursday and expressed his regret. He also told Sherrod what happened to her "can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need, and he hopes that she will do so," according to a White House statement.
Related: Sherrod fallout twists WH message from rah-rah to race
Christopher Edley, Dean of Boalt Law School at U.C. Berkeley and a member of the advisory board to Obama’s transition team before the president took office, was asked on CNN's State of the Union whether Obama was comfortable with issues of race. He answered without reservation:
Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - The former White House environmental czar who quit last year after coming under fire from conservative commentators says this week's controversy over the firing of Shirley Sherrod is "a learning moment" for the nation.
Van Jones, who left his post on the Council on Environmental Quality in September 2009, spoke of the forced resignation of the Agriculture Department employee at a session of the Netroots Nation convention of progressive activists Friday.
Jones resigned after six months in office following a firestorm of criticism, particularly from Fox News host Glenn Beck, over some of his views and past statements. He was faulted specifically for a so-called "truther" petition he had signed calling for an investigation into government involvement of the September 11 attacks and derogatory comments he had made about Republicans caught on videotape well before joining the administration.
(CNN) - The former Agriculture Department employee at the center of a political firestorm said Friday that President Barack Obama didn't literally say he was "sorry" when they spoke Thursday, but "by simply calling me," she believed he was apologizing.
Shirley Sherrod - forced to resign from her job based on incomplete and misleading reports about a speech she gave in March - also told CNN's "American Morning" that the department official who asked for her resignation was only a "messenger."
Sherrod said the White House had been trying to reach her since Wednesday night.
"My phone was full, couldn't take any more messages. Finally, I was on the way to the airport in an attempt to get home when I checked my messages and had received one from the White House saying the president was trying to get in touch with me and give them a call," she said. "I did that and I had the conversation with him and, you know, I feel good about that."
Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Some of the activists attending the Netroots Nation convention have some stern words for the White House and the national media over how they handled the Shirley Sherrod story.
"From the beginning, traditional media outlets that were running with this should have looked at the full video, to get the full context. I mean, it wasn't like it wasn't available. They ran with it because the right wing had one of their manufactured outrages and there was no critical thinking involved in handling that story. And of course the Obama administration trying to make nice with the right wing, overreacted, and shot from the hip, instead of once again, getting the facts," Markos Moulitsas, co-founder of the influential blog the Daily Kos, told CNN.
Many of the attendees here say the administration should not have reacted so quickly after conservative media businessman Andrew Breitbart posted an edited version of Sherrod's speech on Monday that did not fully represent the racial views of the Agriculture Department employee.
Washington (CNN) – The woman caught in the middle of a national firestorm said Thursday that, if given the chance, she would tell conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart that he is a liar.
Breitbart, who first posted an edited version of a speech that led to Shirley Sherrod's resignation, said Tuesday on CNN's John King, USA that he had not specifically targeted Sherrod, and had not asked for her to be fired.
But when asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King what she would say to Breitbart, Sherrod did not dance around the question.
"I'd tell him he's a liar. He knew exactly what effect that would have on not only - he knew what effect that would have on the conservative, racist people he's dealing with. That's why I started getting the hate mail. And that's why I started getting the hate calls. He got the effect he was looking for," Sherrod said on John King, USA.
(CNN) – Rush Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show that Fox News and at least one of its anchors "caved" in its coverage of Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA employee who was fired in haste on Monday after an edited clip of her was posted on a conservative website.
"I have to go after it … because even Fox caved on this," Limbaugh said. "Even Shep Smith. Even poor old Shep Smith went down there and said that everybody's wrong on this, that [BigGovernment.com founder Andrew] Breitbart is wrong and so forth. There's only a handful of us that have the guts to put this story straight. If we don't hammer back nobody will."
Limbaugh dismissed the story, saying he was bored by it.
"It's nothing more than the left playing the race card, the NAACP has thrown down the gauntlet because the big government argument has failed," Limbaugh said. "They are keeping alive the divisions in this country and I hate taking the bait, I hate playing along with it, I simply despise the whole thing."
"We've got a bunch of cowards in the conservative media inside the beltway which will not deal with this honestly," Limbaugh added.
(CNN) - President Obama and Shirley Sherrod have now spoken by telephone, the White House reports:
The President reached Ms. Sherrod by telephone at about 12:35. They spoke for seven minutes.
The President expressed to Ms. Sherrod his regret about the events of the last several days. He emphasized that Secretary Vilsack was sincere in his apology yesterday, and in his work to rid USDA of discrimination.
The President told Ms. Sherrod that this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need, and he hopes that she will do so.
(CNN) - A former Agriculture Department employee who was forced to resign from her job based on incomplete and misleading reports of a speech she gave has been offered a new job by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, but said Thursday she is "not so sure."
"I'm not so sure that going back to the department is the thing to do," Shirley Sherrod told CNN's "American Morning."
Sherrod said she was offered some type of civil rights position in the department's Office of Outreach, and that she was expecting to receive something official in an e-mail from the department. She said Thursday she had not had a chance to see that yet.
But "I would not want to be the one person at USDA that's responsible for issues of discrimination within the agency," she said. "You know, there's a lawsuit by black farmers, there's a lawsuit by Hispanic and Native American and women farmers ... There are changes that would need to happen in order to once and for all really deal with discrimination."
Washington (CNN) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he apologized to Shirley Sherrod for forcing her to resign based on incomplete and misleading reports of a speech she gave.
Vilsack told reporters that he alone made the decision regarding Sherrod, with no White House involvement.
He spoke to Sherrod earlier Wednesday and said he asked for her forgiveness, which she gave. Vilsack also said he offered Sherrod another job in the department, and she was taking a few days to think about it.
"She's a good woman - she's been put through hell," Vilsack said of Sherrod. He admitted acting too hastily in the case, acknowledging that he was focused on reversing a history of racial discrimination at the agriculture department.