The White House is dealing with fallout after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (by way of his underlings) allegedly pressured black USDA employee Shirley Sherrod to resign after a video clip surfaced. In the clip, Sherrod, speaking at a NAACP event in Georgia, said she didn't help a struggling farmer with the "the full force of what I could do." The NAACP first supported her resignation, saying, "We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers," but then actually reviewed the full video that showed Sherrod explaining she how realized it wasn't about being being white or black, "But you know, God will show you things. ... You realize that the struggle is really about poor people," and helped the farmer as much as she could (full video).
Now Vilsack is reportedly reconsidering the resignation—not that Sherrod necessarily wants it back. The initial video was posted by Andrew Breitbart on his Biggovernment.com website, as part of his campaign to get the NAACP to stop calling the Tea Party "racist." He said, "I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her. Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight." Of course, the media includes him, since he posted the initial, edited video; last night, Rachel Maddow compared the incident to the Acorn video seized by right wing cable shows and blogs.
The NAACP released a second statement yesterday saying, "With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias." However, CNN's Campbell Brown told NAACP VP Hilary Shelton, "You’re the ones to blame here because you had the tape in your possession and you could have easily watched it and known the full context of her remarks."
Politico's Maggie Haberman looks at the handling of the Sherrod incident vs. how Mayor Bloomberg defended a staffer who essentially accused former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: "They are obviously different incidents, but again, the approaches in the handling of them are noticably different."