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

Aides: White House trying to distance Obama from Sherrod controversy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/21/art.obama.blue.gi.jpg caption="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. Video Guy

    The President needs to "Man Up" and admit that this is one of the mistakes he said would happen when he was running for the job.

    Once he does that, I think it will go away.

    July 21, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. JLD

    The people who should really be held to account here are Breitbart (the man who released the video which was dishonestly edited to make it look like something it was not) and Fox News who promoted it. Why is there no backlash at the people like Breitbart who fabricate controversial videos that are later proven to be false? And Fox News should be apologizing to Ms. Sherrod and making sure that the story that the video was fabricated gets as much play as the fake video itself did. This will likely never happen. Hopefully the American people, neutral news outlets, and the whitehouse have learned to wait and investigate ANYTHING that comes from Fox News or its right wing counterparts before believing it. Most of the news stories seem to focus on who at the whitehouse it to blame for acting too quickly, but what they should be focused on is who is to blame for disseminating this type of falsified information. Breitbart should be completely discredited and Fox should no longer be able to call itself a news organization since it is more interested in propoganda than actual news.

    July 21, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Wisconsinite

    I don't think the President should distance himself from it. I think he should address the fact that a government agency in his administration was too afraid of the hatred being spewed by Fox & friends that they acted without having full knowledge of the facts. HE did not personally do it, but an agency in his administration DID. THEN he should BLAST Fox & friends with BOTH barrels because it is their constant racheting up of racial tensions and their constant LIES that led to this. I hope Sherrod sues the H*LL out of Fox and that POS that put the clip out to begin with!

    July 21, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. thor

    So Obama didn't have anything at all to do with her being dismissed.The snake oil salesman is at it again.I wonder who's being set up by him to take the the heat for forcing her to resign.Just like the Rev.Wright situation, Obama claimed he sat in his church 20 plus years and didn't hear him spew the hate that has poured from this man's mouth.I know, he was out playing golf or was that basketball with his friends when the phone call was made.yeah ,thats it.......golf ,no baskeball.....golf.....no basketball ,one on one with Labron....yeah !!

    July 21, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. valwayne

    Its a terrible shame that Obama wants to wash his hands after we were told he reviewed and approved of the firing. They made this poor woman pull over in traffic to be fired on a cell phone? They didn't conduct and investigation or review before firing her, and now that the new media has dug out the fact we know that Ms Sherrod isn't some villain, but practically a heroine! How can our Government treat an employee like this? Obama and Sec Vilsack owe Ms Sherrod a profound apology, a return to her job, and restitution for the terrible damage they've inflicted. Why is it that if you aren't one of the hoyty toyty Elites that you don't count with the Obama administration?

    July 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Granger

    just use the same team that distanced him from Revko, Ayers and Rev Wright....they're experienced. In fact, a whole new branch of government will be created to "distance Obama..."

    July 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. ron

    EVERYBODY thought the clip was legit because EVERY news organization ran it as gospel. Now, they want overlook the fact that the guy who started the whole mess and Fox News perpetrated a crime against this lady. Do you really think Obama has the time to weigh in on this stuff? Come on people. Really?

    July 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mr. President! If you had anything to do with Ms. Sherrod being forced to resign you need to address this. Period.

    If you're done with "beer summits", then pour yourself and Ms. Sherrod a glass of Merlot.

    July 21, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. DorisV

    Obama needs to finish what he started. I disagree with those White house aides. He should listen to what the Black Caucus is saying and get some discussions going around the country on race issues. We have plenty of "race" issues and ethnicity issues in this divided USA.

    July 21, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Shawn-Ga

    Why is there post after post saying this is all Fox's fault?

    How did Fox force anyone in the administration to have yet another knee jerk reaction and force her to resign?

    We hear day in and day our that "fox is not taken seriously" "fox doesn't matter" "no one watches Fox" explain to me how a network that does not matter can also be at the center of all this and is powerful enough to force people to act in such a way?

    Bottom line this is "the cops acted stupidly" all over again...

    July 21, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Sherry

    Sadly so many people are too keen on jumping onto the race discrimination wagon on both sides of the coin. It would serve everyone all around if something that has the potential to cause a huge controversy would be investigated more thoroughly, rather than immediately assume the worst, then have to back-track. Kudos to CNN for seeking the truth rather than BE the cause of such controversy and division in our country, as FOX News appears to thrive on.

    July 21, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Tim

    Get holder, he has the courage to speak about racism.

    Hee hee hee.

    July 21, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. David

    (Exodus 20:16) 16 “You must not testify falsely as a witness against your fellowman."
    (Leviticus 19:15) 15 “‘You people must not do injustice in the judgment. You must not treat the lowly with partiality, and you must not prefer the person of a great one. With justice you should judge your associate.
    (Deuteronomy 16:19) 19 You must not pervert judgment. You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones.

    Sir, in your position as head of state, you hold the authority to provide judgement in the case. Is there any question concerning the verdict that you should make? And should you make that verdict in private or in public?

    July 21, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Kevin in Ohio

    Of course! They must protect their Messiah.

    July 21, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. stormerF2

    Funny how the White House,got so nervous that thry wet their pants,before they knew the whole story. Kind of what happens when in-experience takes control. Even the NAACP junmped the gun,serves them right for always bringing up race every chance they get.

    July 21, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Gaylon Barrow NOT ASHAMED for the truth!!!

    It is a farce that he would try an ignore her now. He backed her fully until she embarrassed herself and the NAACP by saying what she, the NAACP, and OBAMA really feel. So no need for him to disengage himself from her now. He ran from Rev Wright saying he didn't really know the man, but it has been proven he has had over 20 years of close association with the, "Goddamn America", preacher. You can run but you can't hide from the truth. Please dear Lord forgive me for using your name in vain it is only a quote from a so called, "God called Preacher", RIGHT?

    July 21, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |

    Of course the media wants to frame this as President Obama's isssue instead of focusing on the people who actually circulated the edited tape. But you guys keep falling for the okee doke.

    July 21, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. DJ

    The WH needs to learn to stop being baited by crap like this and take a wait and see attitude before issuing a statement. When it comes to Race the WH is suppose to serve everyone, therefore do not get caught in it , Just because now that we have an African American President he and his administration always have to be pulled into it? I don't think so.

    July 21, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. James E. Elder

    The administration allowed the the right wing media to lead them to the edge of the cliff and then decided to leap. I am disppointed not only in the Administrations actions before but also thier reaction in the aftermath and the Presidents refusal to comment and apologize. It does make me think about whether this administration is up to the task of leading this country.

    July 21, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. vic

    I think white house in trouble on this story
    White house must stop worrying about FOX

    CNN you brought the truth to us excellent job

    July 21, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. billybob 'n NC

    It is toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo late!
    Obama jumped the gun and has given Fox/Beck more power than ever. It is now clear to them that they have him on the run. So what or who do they snooker next?

    July 21, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    One wonders what beverage flavor the President will server at this summit . . . Tea, Kool-Aid or perhaps an Arnold Palmer since his attention has been focused on GULF issues lately?

    July 21, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ladies and Gentlemen: We are dealing with pure, unadulterated EVIL as personified by Fox News. Let us NOT lose sight of the FACT that it was their intent to create mayhem and dissention. This was so well orchestrated it should win some kind of "You Sick Bastards" award.

    We got 'played' like a deck of cards by the 'good' folks at Faux. They demonstrated to us how adept they are at not only riling up THEIR base with a bunch of lies, but also pitting us against one another! THESE FOLKS ARE REALLY, REALLY GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO BEST: LYING AND STARTING WARS! Let's not forget this. And let's committ to being more vigilant in the future.

    We wonder how on earth Fox viewers can believe a quarter of the stuff that Fox reports?. Well, wonder no more. We fell for this insidious lie, and an innocent woman was fired over our "outrage".

    Only God is smarter than the devil.

    July 21, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. RTB

    Replace the Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack.

    His blunder was monumental. He is the one who should resign.

    Shirley Sherrod should be commended for her many years of good service.

    July 21, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Rick

    Obama is the TAN TAX racists he hates the whites and only appoints minorities, look at his record and then ask the question, what are the percentages of minorities to whites, he is the racist and his mother was white, he needs to go along with the rest of the dems

    July 21, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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