Firing of Shirley Sherrod Demostrates Why Right Wing Smears Should Not Be Taken Seriously

Hopefully the premature firing of Shirley Sherrod has been a learning experience for all involved–especially anyone who pays attention to right wing smear campaigns. Media Maters has prepared a time line of the whole affair. To summarize quickly, Sherrod became a target of Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart, like Fox and other conservative attack dogs, uses material taken out of context to attack his targets. He prepared a 2 minute 38 seconds video clip which gives the impression that Sherrod, a black employee of the Department of Agriculture, was refusing to help a white farmer because of his race. The right wing noise machine quickly used this to claim there was racial discrimination in the department.

The full video provides a totally different story as described by AP:

A complete, 43-minute version of the video surfaces the next day, Tuesday, and casts a much different light on Shirley Sherrod’s comments: They were part of an NAACP speech about how she overcame her racial prejudice to help the farmer, not about prejudice that stopped her from helping him.

You would think that by now people would realize that you cannot pay any attention to such right wing smear campaigns. Unfortunately the Obama administration, which certainly should have known better, paid attention to the initial attack and Sherrod was fired. Subsequently the full story came out with both Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and President Obama offering apologies. Sherrod was also offered another job.

The publicity surrounding this might have created a tipping point where more people recognize the dishonesty of the right wing noise machine in mind. This will hopefully lead to fewer people taking them seriously when they launch their next smear campaign, along with realizing that taking quotes out of context to suggest an entirely different meaning is a common strategy employed on the right.

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  1. 1
    Pearl Hussein Obama says:

    RT @RonChusid: Firing of Shirley Sherrod Demostrates Why Right Wing Smears Should Not Be Taken Seriously #p2

  2. 2
    jt says:

    » Firing of Shirley Sherrod Demostrates Why Right Wing Smears …: Hopefully the premature firing of Shirley Sherr…

  3. 3
    Leslie Parsley says:

    I’m not ready to say “Obama must go” as I’ve read elsewhere. But this was an avoidable mistake and a very costly one. I think it’s time the administration grew a spine and stopped listening to the right-wing.

  4. 4
    Bill P says:

    O’Reilly’s “apology” was just more of the smear and distortion. He claims she was “on duty” (false, the speech was on Saturday); she was forbidden by the Hatch Act to give speeches (false – see – she falls under the category of Less Restricted Employees); he criticizes her for sending the farmer to “one of his own”, the totally ignores her next sentence; he ignores the political and racial environmental of the time (1980s); brings up her law suit ignoring the fact that it was a discrimination suit on behalf of New Communities of Georgia starting with Lester Mattox and exacerbated by Ronald Reagan’s abolishing the USDA Office of Civil Rights in 1981 when he became president; and he claims she was defining her politics when she was simply stating historical political facts. He accuses her of being partisan and unethical without looking in his own mirror. To me, he’s despicable!

  5. 5
    Kelly says:

    I believe the overall point was best made by Daniel Davies

    But it cannot be posted about too often.

  6. 6
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    The Shirely Sherrod story was instructive for me in more than one aspect.  The conservative source Breitbart has been enormously downgraded in my esteem, and Fox news, which I already had only moderate trust in to begin with has taken another step down on the credibility ladder.  Reconfirmation of  the clueless/reactionary nature of the current administration that I already had of them.  But more interesting to me is that the NAACP, despite obviously reacting way too quickly, and in error, had spoke out against, what they thought (albeit wrongly) was injustice by a black person towards a white person.  That had, for sake of arguement, Sherrod been guilty of what she was accused of, I would have expected the NAACP to rally on her side anyway, downplaying, denying, and or distracting from the issue.  The way it played out for me was the NAACP increased in credibility from my perspective.  Worth noting too is that not only did not all conservative talk media take the bait, but a number of them rightly denounced the distortion.  If one were to read only the Liberal Values blog, one might think there is no such thing as a conservative thought that isn’t a lie or a distortion.  Like the Mark Williams article characturizing the whole tea party movement, the whole idea of thinking government should be limited and spending curtailed as being extreme. Thus kicking out one of the members is just extremists kicking out an extremist. The only thing extreme about the tea party movement is that it would be extremely lucky to see Washington, regardless of which party is in charge to ever curb their gluttoness spending.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    There’s no question that the Obama administration made a mistake here–but that hardly proves that they are either clueless or reactionary. They certainly should have known better than to accept a source such as Breitbart without further investigation.

    It is not the belief that government should be limited which makes the Tea Party extremists. They carry a lot of other baggage as noted in other posts. Of course there is a variation in the beliefs of their supporters.

    In principle, cutting spending sounds good. However, why then are they generally supporting the more fiscally irresponsible party and so vehemently opposing the more fiscally responsible party in recent years.

    I also have a problem with people who make cutting government spending a key part of their platform without specifics. It’s easy to say in principle, but considering how little discretionary money there is in the budget, it is much harder to say what you will cut. That’s part of the reason that Republicans talk about cutting spending, and then wind up increasing the deficit more than the Democrats.

    “If one were to read only the Liberal Values blog, one might think there is no such thing as a conservative thought that isn’t a lie or a distortion.”

    Not so. The point I’ve often made here isn’t that there is no such thing as valid conservative thought, but that the conservative movement has been taken over by people who do thrive on lies and distortions, with legitimate conservative thought being driven out of the movement. Barry Goldwater called himself a liberal in his later years as he correctly predicted the direction of the conservative movement. Even Ronald Reagan, despite how often his name is brought up by conservatives, is now significantly to the left of the current conservative movement.

  8. 8
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    If I saw your picture before, I don’t recall it.  Look rather sharp there with that tuxedo suit.  Yes, big problem in picking what to cut.  At this point I’d take cuts virtually anywhere on the spending side while I’m not entirely against tax increases or say elimination of some deductions.  The idea of eliminating the mortgage deduction might keep some people from buying too much house just in an attempt to help them with taxes.  The way both parties have messed with our economy I feel like economically speaking it is comparing molesters to rapists. Would I rather the economy be under the care of  Uncle Sam the molester or Uncle  Sam the rapist? You can argue which party is which if you want but I’m sick of it. Republicans talk more “game” about being fisically responsible , thus I do gravitate more to what they say, but then, like seemingly all politicans, they say one thing and do another.  I’ve heard it said that one will believe a stranger over someone you know because the stranger hasn’t lied to you yet.  Thus tea party seems appealing because they haven’t had a chance to let us down like others…yet.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    You’re assuming the Tea Party is some new phenomenon and therefore has a chance to be better than the established parties. It is simply a new name for the Republican base–nothing new.

  10. 10
    FixingFixedNews says:

    Forcing USDA Official to Resign Over YouTube Clip was the Right Call, Agriculture Chief Says…until he changed the channel and saw the unedited video

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