July 21st, 2010
06:27 PM ET
13 years ago

Vilsack, White House apologize to former USDA official

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.

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Filed under: Shirley Sherrod • Tom Vilsack
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Margaret Anderson/Boise, Idaho

    This is the unfortunate reality of the internet. Stories must be vetted better before conclusions are rendered. I really think that Shirley Sherrod could be very important in the overall conversation about race issues.I am tired of the racist signs and rhetoric that have been continually been thrust into our faces in the Tea Party Movement and other groups. I realize this is a Democracy where people have a right to express this stuff, but I have rights also to not like it. I am hoping a possitive will rise out of this.

    July 21, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I'm glad Vilsak made a genuine apology and I hope that she reconsiders her resignation. Mr. Breitbart shoudl be sued, as his apology is not real, if it were, the headline that was used with the video he submitted would have read differently. The headline clearly pointed to Mrs Sherrod's as a racist culprit. Breitbart is trying to creatively avoid getting sued ... He is truly a scumbag. I think the Dems need to use this mishap as ammunition and momentum for mid term elections ... FOX News cannot be trusted for REAL Issues or REAL News.

    July 21, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. jeff

    It's VILSACK who ought to put a resignation on the table for a knee-jerk reaction to a web post (not even a newscast) on Fox. Not even 24 hours to investigate the claim and think rationally - just a weasel political knife in the back to a member of the staff. This guy epitomizes the worst in government management ... just one more thing that really needs to be changed.

    Republicans, Democrats... makes no difference. A political hack of any stripe is a political hack. (Or to paraphrase that old racist adage... "the problem with political hacks is that they all behave alike").

    July 21, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. guy from NM

    Vilsack should be fired

    July 21, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. JonDie

    I would love to be on the jury that awards Sherrod a huge award against biggovernment.com for its intentional malicious slander of this hard-working woman. This is just more evidence that Republicans will do and say anything to destroy our government and lead us into chaos and anarchy.

    July 21, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Meeks

    Journalism is dead along with any chance of real leadership from the White House. Ms. Sherrod told an inspiring story of a change of heart and the USDA came to an idiotic conclusion that was incorrect. I have never seen any conclusive evidence of racism and the Tea party which has been thrown under the bus but they won't get any apology.

    July 21, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Mickey, NY

    Shirley Sherrod desreves an apology FROM EVERYBODY...including FoxEntertainmentNews and Andrew Breitbart...

    Andrew Breitbart needs to be sued into poverty by Shirley Sherrod...

    FoxEntertainmentNews needs to be sued by Shirley Sherrod, heavily fined by the FCC, and removed from the airwaves...for good...

    ...the world will be a much better place...

    July 21, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Only thing that the White House did wrong here was have a knee-jerk reaction to Fox News.

    They have enough sense to immediately come out and apologize.

    Now, that is actually refreshing, hey we made a mistake.....

    Now Fox News, in any other country would have automatically lose ALL credibility. But conservatives are DUMB. They would rather believe Sean Hanity and Rush Limbaugh (who is not affiliated with Fox) that their own eyes. But that is the DUMB conservatives for you...

    If I was Shirley Sherrod, I wouldsue the pants off of Fox News, Sean Hanity and the Breitbart MORON

    I hope you all realize that Dan Rather was fired for less than this...

    July 21, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. Layla

    Welcome back, Shirley!!!!

    July 21, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Lesson to the "media": make sure you check the facts first and NEVER EVER trust anything Faux News or their Conservative-Puritan bloggers say. They just want to incite hatred and division.

    July 21, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Jim

    Someone ought to sue Fox news for going on these crusades that ruin people's lives. All they are interested in is finding any story which can scare white people about black people so that they won't vote Democrat in the fall. Its the Southern Strategy all over again...

    July 21, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. George of the jungle

    I don't think the president made any comments other than to accept her resignation. So why is he being blamed for it? The blogger who edited the tape and the news show who ran it should be the ones having to answer for their reporting. I can understand the white house trying to be fair conscidering all the stuff they get accused of from the repos. Just goes to show how news when it is reported incorrectly can make so many people belive it is true. Thats pretty much how Fox and it's reporters work anyway.

    July 21, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. The Watcher

    And that's how the media manipulates the information....!!!She is innocent, but they made us think she is racist! What a shame!!! This makes me throw up...disgusting

    July 21, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. BeverlyNC

    They should apologize for the slander and character assassination by Fox intentionally heaped on Ms Sherrod. She is obviously a very fine and caring individual who teaches others to reject racism.

    Fox should officially be declared a non-news organization, kicked out of all media organizations and not be allowed as part of the White House press corps.

    How many times do they have to get caught lying and making up stories before they and their 3 stooges (Beck/Hannity/Oreilly) are publically rebuked? They are garbage makers and a direct reflection of the dishonesty and non-integrity of the Republican Party.

    July 21, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  15. golda mckenny

    It is outrageous to me that someone is fired as a result of an incident without giving the person fired an opportunity to explain their side of the incident. In my estimation that is not simply courtesy in the business-place, but reduces the chance ofr misunderstandings.
    In all the news commentary today I've not heard one person raise this factor. However, Sherrod's voice in telling about the request for immediate resignation sounds surprised at the abruptness of the request.

    July 21, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Marty, FL

    Good to see Sec. Vilsack take responsibility in a forthright manner. Let something positive come from this situation as a lessoned learned to authenticate information, especially if it comes from biased agenda.

    It is not as though Fox propaganda & Breibart are going to apologize for their corrupt defamation.

    BTW, great job getting the truth out about this story, CNN.

    July 21, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. mike

    God bless Shirley Sherrod. She has been through so much in her life with white America and still she closed her eyes to color to help a poor human being. Not the white race, black race, latino race etc.. There's only one race, THE HUMAN RACE.. It's sad to see, and this nation will never move forward until we learn that all man are created equal. But there are some people in this world who would do anything to see this not happen. A lot of people gave thier live's so I can be free, so I can vote. What happen to Shirley Sherrod should be a wake up call to all of us.

    July 21, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. bernisbad

    some heads should roll behind this mess....this should have not hapeened without further investigation..........pitiful

    July 21, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  19. Eunice in Memphis, Tennessee

    Great job CNN and Rick on the truth about Ms. Sherrod. GREAT JOB.

    July 21, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |