Washington (CNN) - White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Shirley Sherrod is "owed an apology. I would do that on behalf of this administration."
"A disservice was done. An apology was owed. That's what we've done," he told reporters at the White House.
"Decisions were made based on an incomplete set of facts," Gibbs said. "Members of this administration, members of the media, members of different political factions ... have all made determinations and judgments without a full set of facts."
Gibbs said that "we live in a culture (in which) things whip around, people want fast responses, (and) we want to give fast responses."
"One of the great lessons you take away from this is to ask all the questions first," he added.
Washington (CNN) - The Congressional Black Caucus released the following statement today on the firing of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod:
“It is troubling that Shirley Sherrod was asked for her resignation as Georgia State Director for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of an edited video clip. A full review of the clip demonstrates Ms. Sherrod’s personal transformation. She was clearly educating the public about the power of redemption. It is now apparent that Secretary Vilsack did not have all of the facts available to him and overreacted.
“The Congressional Black Caucus continues to believe that Ms. Sherrod was unfairly asked to resign, without due process and should be reinstated immediately. There are many individuals still serving in the Department of Agriculture who were responsible for years of discrimination against African American farmers.
“We also believe that a national dialogue on race must be held. Last November, we held a forum on race in Washington DC to begin the discussion. The basis for Ms. Sherrod’s resignation is another example of why we must not sweep race under the rug. Rather, we must come together as a nation and recognize that we do not live in a post-racial era and that while difficult, we must confront these issues head on with clarity and without fear.
“Ms. Sherrod has been an effective public servant and it would be tragic to lose a person of such caliber, competence and commitment to fairness and equality and one who has dedicated her life to working for a more perfect union.”
(CNN) - A White House official tells CNN a "longer look" now needs to be taken at the circumstances surrounding the firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod.
"We're not sure what the ultimate result will be, but it's clear that with new information through the full speech, a longer look needed to be taken," the official told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. "The White House contacted the department last night about the case and agreed, based on new evidence, that it should be reviewed."
A White House official told CNN Tuesday night that President Obama had been fully briefed after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's original decision and fully supported that decision. Vilsack says he's now willing to conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts.
(CNN) - A black former Agriculture Department official who resigned under pressure after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer said Wednesday the agency's decision to review her case is "bittersweet," but said she isn't sure she would accept her job back if it is offered.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of Shirley Sherrod, who resigned Monday after the video clip first appeared on a conservative website and later on Fox News.
In the video, Sherrod, the former USDA director of rural development for Georgia, seems to tell an audience at an NAACP function in March that she did not do her utmost to help a white farmer avoid foreclosure.
However, Sherrod later said the clip only shows part of her comments, and that she tells the story of her experience - from nearly a quarter century ago when she was not a federal employee - to illustrate the importance of moving beyond race.
(CNN) - Shirley Sherrod, a former USDA employee who resigned after a controversial video surfaced, told CNN Tuesday that members of the Obama administration "harassed" her and demanded she resign her post immediately.
In an interview with CNN, Sherrod said she repeatedly fielded calls on Monday during a long car ride, during which officials insisted that she pull over to the side of the road and quit her post.
"They asked me to resign, and, in fact, they harassed me as I was driving back to the state office from West Point, Georgia yesterday," Sherrod told CNN. "I had at least three calls telling me the White House wanted me to resign…and the last one asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it."
Update, 4:36 p.m.: A White House official tells CNN's Suzanne Malveaux the White House was not involved in pressuring for a resignation: "The White House did not pressure her or USDA over the resignation. It was the Secretary’s decision, as he has said.”
Washington (CNN) - A video clip showing an African-American woman who later became an Agriculture Department employee seeming to say she had not done her utmost to help a white farmer save his farm was taken out of context, she said Tuesday, and fails to include the point of her story - that people need to move beyond race.
Shirley Sherrod, the department's state director of rural development for Georgia, 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.
"I was speaking to that group, like I've done many groups, and I tell them about a time when I thought the issue was race and race only," Sherrod told CNN's "American Morning" from her home in Albany, Georgia. The incident took place in 1986, before she worked for the USDA, she said. "I was telling the story of how working with him helped me to see the issue is not about race. It's about those who have versus those who do not have."