Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sherrod's firing: disgrace all around

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 4:33 PM

“It hurts me that they didn’t even attempt to see what is happening here, they didn’t care.” -- Shirley Sherrod.

Consider this an early edition of our usual Friday feature, Stupid Thing of the Week. Shirley Sherrod was unceremoniously fired  from her job at the Dept of Agriculture (USDA), just a few hours after FoxNews broadcast heavily edited, misleading, completely out-of-context bits from a speech she gave at an NAACP event earlier this year. As far as I can tell, everyone involved in her firing acted cynically and disgracefully — except Sherrod.

The video — which purported to “prove” Sherrod is racist, although the full video of Sherrod’s speech showed just the opposite — was the cynical, lyin’-assed product of one Andrew Breitbart, one of the most virulent, ruthless ultra-right online bloggers. If there’s one central villain in this story, it’s Breitbart, and here’s hoping Sherrod sues his butt off.

FoxNews broadcast Breitbart’s video, and repeatedly blasted both Sherrod and the NAACP, without even once contacting Sherrod for confimation, explanation, or even comment. And as far as doing their journalistic duty to be sure they knew, and presented, the correct context of the woman’s remarks? You’ve got to be kidding. Let’s just say the network continued its standard hyper-partisan version of “reporting.”

The NAACP, upon hearing of the Breitbart video, quickly condemned Sherrod’s “racist comments,” although they had the entire speech on tape and should have known better. But no, it was “cover our asses” time at the NAACP, and they threw the woman under the bus. Completely disgraceful.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, USDA honcho Tom  Vilsack fired Sherrod from her job — of course, without any knowledge of the real facts of the situation, in a pathetic administration attempt to cover its own ass, no matter what. That’s disgraceful enough, but it also turns out that Pres. Obama was briefed on “the situation” (aka potential political damage) and the decision to fire Sherrod, and went along with the whole sordid deal — a performance worthy of Nixon.

Then, ta-daa, the truth started to come out, Sherrod was vindicated, Breitbart was recognized for being a lying, amoral jerk, and Vilsack quickly apologized and asked the unjustly accused woman to come back to work. She hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll do so, and who could blame her if she didn’t?

The stupidest thing in all of this debacle, though, is the Obama administration’s habit of caving whenever FoxNews’ fabricates a “scandal.” First we had Van Jones, run out of office by Glenn Beck’s lies; then it was ACORN, an entire organization ruined by one of their offices’ foolish decision to play along with the since-debunked “video pimp” James O’Keefe . And now the Sherrod firing. Why in God’s name does this White House kowtow to right-wing lies? Is it to “appease the right”? Do Obama & Co. really think the right is suddenly going to like them and quit criticizing them? Hey, Obama White House! Somebody there, starting at the top, needs to grow a pair, begin hitting back, and expose FoxNews for the collection of partisan hacks it is. At the very, very least, how about checking out the validity of the right’s attacks before you sacrifice people, like Shirley Sherrod, who are doing what you hired them to do?

View Sherrod’s unedited speech below.

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