Sherrod, a black woman who was formerly the USDA’s director of rural development for Georgia, stepped down Monday after a snippet of a video was aired by conservative media outlets where Sherrod said 24 years ago she didn’t help a white farmer because of his race.
It seems Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rushed to judgment in demanding Sherrod’s resignation, before the full video of her speech in March actually showed Sherrod telling her NAACP audience that she had recognized and addressed her own prejudice. She then recognized the understanding that “there is no difference between us” and eventually helped the white farmer save his land.
Vilsack reportedly offered Sherrod another unspecified position with the USDA, which Sherrod said she would consider.
Vilsack also offered her another unspecified position with the department. Sherrod said she would consider it.
“This is a good woman,” Vilsack said. “She’s been put through hell. I could have done and should have done a better job. I’ll learn from that experience. I want this agency and department to learn from this experience, and I want us to be stronger for it.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also apologized on behalf of the administration, though Vilsack has insisted he made the decision to ask for Sherrod’s resignation without input from the White House.
“Members of this administration, members of the media, members of different political factions on both sides of this have all made determinations and judgments without a full set of facts,” Gibbs said at his daily briefing.
Sherrod also received an apology from Fox New’ Bill O’Reilly, who aired the edited clip and denounced Sherrod as a racist.
“I owe Ms. Sherrod an apology for not doing my homework, for not putting her remarks into the proper context,” he said on “The O’Reilly Factor,” adding that his own words had been taken out of context by critics in the past. “I well understand the need for honest reporting.”
NAACP officials, who had denounced Sherrod’s comments at first, eventually viewed the full video and also apologized, saying they had been “snookered” by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart, who had initially posted the video on his conservative blog.