During her 1PM ET hour show on Monday, MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell promoted allegations from the Congressional Black Caucus that ethics investigations into Democrats Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are racially motivated: "Are black lawmakers being singled out by the ethics watchdogs on Capitol Hill? New charges of racial bias."
After detailing the accusations against California Congresswoman Waters, Mitchell noted the formal ethics charges filed against New York Congressman Rangel and touted his defense: "...he, we now know, tried to point out that Mitch McConnell and others allegedly did the same thing, trying to raise money for a center named after them. He's claiming that this is a matter of bias."
Mitchell's guest, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris, continued to make the case: "...that there is a clear double standard and they're asking why is it that the new congressional ethics procedures seem to be the result of that, seem to be a number of African-Americans that are getting put under a tough ethical microscope....They say that there seems to be a pattern that reflects, they're alleging, a racial bias."
Similarly, on Sunday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon interviewed the Reverend Al Sharpton and wondered: "...some are openly questioning why two high profile African-American House members are coming under such tough scrutiny. Do you think that black members are being targeted unfairly by the Ethics Committee?"
Monday's New York Times front page contains a "Congressional Memo" by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, "In Personal Ethics Battles, a Partywide Threat." The party is the Democrat Party, the threat possible ethics trials for prominent Democratic representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.
After summarizing the danger that the trials pose for Democrats in an election year, the Times checked in on an unreliable source, Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, to raise a defense of Rangel and Waters, both of whom are black, as is Clyburn.
On Sunday's Newsroom, CNN's Don Lemon conducted a softball interview of the Rev. Al Sharpton and helped him forward the theory that the congressional ethics investigations into Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are being conducted because they are black. Lemon also didn't go into much detail as to what the charges against the two were and what were the circumstances of their cases.
The anchor interviewed the liberal minister 12 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour. Before introducing Sharpton, Lemon did mention that Congressman Rangel was "accused of violating 13 House Rules" and that the "accusations range from financial wrongdoing to damaging the credibility of Congress," but never mentioned during the segment that the charges mainly involve rental properties the New York representatives owns in his district and in the Dominican Republic. He also noted that Rep. Waters "has chosen to face a House ethics trial related to claims involving federal aid to a bank with ties to both Waters and her husband" but didn't give additional details about that case.
Lemon then set up his topic of discussion with the reverend: "Now, the investigation of such powerful people, like Rangel and Maxine Waters, have a lot of people talking. The reaction in Washington seems to be centered on whether the two House members are guilty or not, but back home, in their respective districts, some of their constituents aren't so sure justice is being done, and some are openly questioning why two high profile African-American House members are coming under such tough scrutiny." He then asked Sharpton, "Do you think that black members are being targeted unfairly by the Ethics Committee?"
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
In yet another example of the news media being selective about which party labels it chooses to share, a recent CNN online story about Shirley Sherrod mentioning three Democrat politicians included the "D" when the politicians where doing something the story applauded, and left it off when the Democrat was a bad guy.
When drought struck the South in the 1970s, the federal government promised to help New Communities through the Office of Economic Opportunity. But the money was routed through the state, led by segregationist Gov. Lester Maddox, and the local office of the Farmers Home Administration, whose white agent was in no hurry to write the checks, she said.
But later in the story, when two Democrats do something of which the author clearly approves, the party label is included:
Using that experience, Sherrod worked with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives to help black farmers keep their land. The group worked with U.S. Rep. Mike Espy, D-Mississippi (who later became agriculture secretary), and Sen. Wyche Fowler, D-Georgia, to pass the Minority Farmers Rights Act in 1990. The measure, known as Section 2501, authorized $10 million a year in technical assistance to black farmers, but only $2 million to $3 million a year has been distributed.
This sort of bias is so obvious, I sometimes wonder why the media even bothers.
Is there more to the Shirley Sherrod story than the White House has let on - and the media has discovered? While the mainstream media continues to focus on the more sensationalistic, scandalous aspects of the story, a number of bloggers have unearthed facts that suggest further effort is needed to figure out Sherrod's dealings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sherrod's involvement is not at all clear, nor is there definitive evidence of any wrongdoing. But Sherrod's sudden presence in the spotlight has led to investigations that turn up some strange numbers.
In short, the 2008 farm bill earmarked $1.25 billion to compensate a predicted total of 86,000 African American farmers for discriminatory practices against them. But according to the Census Bureau, there are were 39,697 African American farmers in the nation in 2007, and even fewer in previous years.
This week the Obama administration announced it does not have the funds to pay that $1.25 billion. Yet the administration also announced that it will pay $1.5 billion in relief to farmers in Arkansas, leaving some wondering whether the recall of the $1.25 billion was more a matter of choice than necessity.
Chris Matthews in the course of less than two hours Thursday appeared to radically change his opinion about Shirley Sherrod's pending lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Matthews during the 5 p.m. installment of "Hardball" got into a heated argument with former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean about the contents of the controversial video Breitbart posted at BigGovernment.com on July 19.
For some reason, rather than air that segment as part of the normal 7 p.m. rerun, MSNBC did a live broadcast bringing Politico's Ken Vogel in to discuss the matter with Matthews and original guest Salon's Joan Walsh.
What resulted was a completely different presentation than what aired just two hours prior with Matthews far more critical of Breitbart than he previously was and far more supportive of the merits of Sherrod's case.
Let's look at the videos to see the glaring difference in these segments (partial transcripts also follow with commentary):
What will it take for the media to acknowledge that the Tea Party is not a racist movement, and that liberals have smeared it as such in a naked politicization of race relations? How about a lefty activist admitting just that.
UPenn professor Mary Frances Berry, a leader of the "far-left black political scene," as NB Executive Editor Matt Sheffield wrote, penned this astonishing email to Politico, published on July 20:
Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper faulted himself for not pressing Shirley Sherrod when she appeared on the show back on July 22 and claimed that conservative Andrew Breitbart was a “vicious” racist who “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”
Cooper now says he should have challenged Sherrod to support such an inflammatory charge with facts: “I believe in admitting my mistakes....I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.”
The July 22 interview was one of numerous appearances Sherrod made on CNN after she was fired by the Department of Agriculture on July 19. Cooper asked Sherrod about her phone conversation that day with President Obama, and then about Breitbart. Here’s the transcript of that section of the interview; an extended video clip appears after the jump:
Chris Matthews and Howard Dean on Thursday got into a heated argument about what was included in the controversial video excerpts Andrew Breitbart published at his website last Monday involving former USDA official Shirley Sherrod.
In the opening segment of the 5PM installment of MSNBC's "Hardball," Matthews was discussing with the former Vermont Governor as well as Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh the announcement that Sherrod intends to sue Breitbart.
After playing both videos posted at BigGovernment.com back on July 19, Matthews noted, "That part in there about redemptive revelation was actually in the initial tape."
He then asked Dean, "Why do you think if this was a complete slime job, why do you think Breitbart kept that in there?"
The Governor's absolutely absurd answer started the fireworks (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Roger Simon's Wednesday morning column ("Journolist veers out of bounds"), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.
Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon's column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal "has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that 'the right' would use it as 'a sledgehammer' against everyday journalists, 'those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism.'"
I'll suggest that Simon's rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd's reaction, in that it's laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):
... when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)
Patrick Goldstein and much of the butt-boy entertainment media have either outright ignored director Oliver Stone’s anti-Semitic comments or have dug a deeper hole for their credibility in attempting to explain why they shouldn’t have to hold their favorite anti-American director to the same standard as the director of the “The Passion of the Christ” after his 2006 incident. Unfortunately for them, this ploy might not be working. According to some excellent reporting in The Wrap, media mogul and Clinton confidante Haim Saban is showing some moral consistency, and he’s claiming that WME Chairman Ari Emanuel is as well.
Like the Anti-Defamation League, Saban is far from satisfied with Stone’s “clumsy association with the Holocaust” apology, calling it “sooooo transparently fake.” And as a money-where-his-mouth-is supporter of Israel, my guess is that Saban’s taking issue with all this crazy talk coming from Stone about how his January miniseries will prove Hitler was a “scapegoat” who deserves to be put in “context.”
A furious Haim Saban has mounted a campaign to get Showtime to cancel its planned airing of Oliver Stone’s 10-part series, “A Secret History of America,” in the wake of anti-Jewish remarks by the outspoken director.
In the past couple of weeks, comedian George Lopez has made two noteworthy jokes during the monologue of his Lopez Tonight show on TBS with the premise that conservatives are racist. On Wednesday’s show, as he brought up President Obama’s interview recorded earlier in the day on ABC’s The View, Lopez took a swipe at right-leaning co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck as he cracked that she had "instinctively grabbed her purse and hit the imaginary door locks on her couch" when she saw Obama coming.
And on the Monday, July 12, show, Lopez portrayed the people of Arizona as racist for supporting the state’s new immigration law, as he suggested that Arizona would welcome Mel Gibson-style racism. Lopez: "Let’s see. He don’t like people of color, he don’t like Mexicans, he don’t like minorities, where can he go? Orale, Arizona!"
After acting out Gibson’s part by declaring, "I hate blacks, I don’t like Mexicans," Lopez then pretended to be an Arizona resident welcoming Gibson into the state: "Right this way."
On Monday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, guest Ann Coulter answered host Joy Behar’s tendency to link the Tea Party to racism as the HLN host brought up former DNC chairman Howard Dean’s recent accusations that the Republican party are "appealing to its racist fringe." Coulter noted the vicious attacks the far left made against President Bush and alluded to the double standard that liberals try to hold the Tea Party to: "It`s silliness comparing Obama to Lenin and Hitler. Okay, it`s overheated, it`s not racist. And let`s go back to the Bush era. He was called not only a Nazi and Hitler all the time, he was called a monkey all the time. I`m not endorsing these signs, I think they`re stupid, but don`t scream racism over every stupid sign or every liberal plant at a Tea Party."
Behar had posed the question: "This Breitbart thing, in a way, is a perfect example of what Howard Dean, former DNC chairman, is talking about because the GOP is appealing to the racist fringe in order to get back in power. Am I wrong or right?"
Before noting Bush’s treatment by liberals, Coulter responded: "The more recent history is, consists of constant false accusations of racism against the Tea Party just like you made. The claim that John Lewis was called the ‘N’ word 15 times at an anti-Obama rally, well, that`s been as proved false as anything could be."
On Sunday, the New York Times issued a surprise half-correction to the unverified claim, made in Matt Bai's July 18 story, that racial epithets were hurled at Democratic congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis during protests against Obama-care at the U.S. Capitol on March 20. Bai wrote:
The question of racism in the amorphous Tea Party movement is, of course, a serious one, since so much of the Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of its activists. There have been scattered reports around the country of racially charged rhetoric within the movement, most notably just before the vote on the new health care law last March, when Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, the legendary civil rights leader, was showered with hateful epithets outside the Capitol.
The portion in bold above has now been omitted from the online version of Bai's story. Here's the correction, in Sunday's edition:
Appearing as a guest on Monday’s The Ed Show on MSNBC, former DNC chairman Howard Dean renewed his discredited claim that FNC had played clips of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod before her forced resignation, and suggested that Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace had deceived him in denying that there was FNC coverage before her firing. Dean: "I happen to like Chris Wallace, but he was really not being exactly accurate when he talked about ‘we didn`t say one word about this before the Secretary of Agriculture fired her.’ The fact of the matter is they were pushing this story very, very hard all day. It may be true that they didn`t mention her name, but they sure did run the tape without mentioning her name."
Earlier in the show, host Ed Schultz had played the clip of Wallace correcting Dean’s assertions about FNC from the previous day’s Fox News Sunday. Wallace: "I know facts are inconvenient things, but let`s try to deal with the facts. The fact is that the Obama administration fired or forced Shirley Sherrod to quit before her name had ever been mentioned on Fox News Channel."
After Dean’s claims about FNC showing the Sherrod video, Schultz followed up by asking if Fox News is "racist in what they do," leading Dean to answer in the affirmative and to accuse Fox News of "inflaming racial hatred":
Comedian Jon Stewart on Monday said what most in the liberal media continue to deny: as it pertains to the Shirley Sherrod affair, Fox News snookered no one.
Even more surprising, the "Daily Show" host claimed conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart "may be the most honest person in this entire story."
In a lengthy segment about the controversy, after haranguing the Obama administration's handling of the affair, Stewart moved to what the NAACP said when it retracted its initial condemnation of Sherrod (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Like a dog chasing its tail, the left has spent a great amount of time trying to determine who the leader of the Tea Party movement is. And often, there are accusations of prevalent racism among its members. But according to CNBC's Rick Santelli, the Tea Party is more of a philosophy than a group, which has nothing to do with racism.
"First of all, we should have zero tolerance for racial discrimination, period," Santelli said. "Beyond that, if the indirect question is, ‘Is the Tea Party racist?' I think the real question is, ‘Are there racists in the Tea Party?' And I would contend that statistically there's going to be racists in any group."
The New York Times went to town on Andrew Breitbart and Fox News on Sunday and Monday, rehashing the racial controversy over the Shirley Sherrod tape and suggesting conservative media outlets were guilty of "tilting the field," blowing "obscure or misleading stories...out of proportion" and presenting "political opposition research" as news. Hmm. Isn't that what the New York Times has been doing to conservatives for years?
In the last couple of days, Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Web site operator, has been called a liar, a provocateur, a propagandist -- and even a race-baiter. But he says he knows who the true race-baiters are: some Democratic activists.
Andrew Breitbart highlighted the edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod on one of his Web sites. "It's warfare out there," he says.
It was one of Mr. Breitbart's Web sites, BigGovernment, that highlighted the heavily edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod, a black official at the Department of Agriculture, apparently saying that she had been biased against a white farmer she was supposed to help. Ms. Sherrod's full speech actually demonstrated the opposite, but do not expect Mr. Breitbart to be embarrassed.
Stelter later evinced a convenient concern for journalist credibility for "when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." Stelter must have missed the Times's hit pieces on John McCain alleging an affair and suggesting his birthplace made him unqualified to serve as president, or the paper's sabotage of two successful Bush-era terror-fighting programs it disapproved of.
With recent controversial race topics entering the spotlight, such as the voter intimidation incident and Shirley Sherrod story, the media has been more than willing to open their arms and turn on their cameras to hear the opining of the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party, Malik Zulu Shabazz. Shabazz has appeared on Fox News, issued a statement through CNN, and done exclusive interviews for various media outlets.
The Anti-Defamation League has described Shabazz as anti-Semitic and racist, trying "to recast himself as a serious civil rights leader in recent years by cloaking his bigotry and intolerance in religious and civil rights principles and inserting himself in high profile, racially charged issues around the country." This certainly seems to be the case as he has made an increasing number of appearances in the media, in which the audience is to suspend belief and assume this man is an evenhanded voice on race relations in America.
In fact, Shabazz used his statement at CNN to accuse the ‘Republican or right wing tea party strategists' of ‘stir(ing) up racial fears'.
In the past six days, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting some liberal media member claiming that Fox News was responsible for Shirley Sherrod's dismissal from the Agriculture Department.
So obsessed with this idea were the folks on PBS's "Inside Washington" Friday that the lone conservative on the panel Charles Krauthammer had to defend FNC's honor like a knight in shining armor protecting a princess from a gang of marauding Huns.
Two days later, CNN's Howard Kurtz and Politics Daily's Matt Lewis did their darnedest to convince Salon's Joan Walsh of the facts - unfortunately to no avail.
Getting fed up with the stupidity from his colleagues on the left, Mediaite's Steve Krakauer Sunday evening tried to once and for all put this matter to rest:
On Friday’s Political Capital, Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson – formerly of CNN and Time magazine – left the impression that FNC coverage of the Shirley Sherrod video was partially responsible for her firing, prompting the National Review’s Kate O’Beirne to clarify that FNC did not show the video until after the USDA employee’s resignation. After host Al Hunt asked, "did it also say something bad about the so-called right-wing echo chamber or Fox News?"
Carlson responded: "Well, once the tape was on Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hammity, Hannity, it got out there, and, you know, I was shown it on live TV, and I was snookered as the NAACP said they were." After also faulting the NAACP and the Obama administration for acting too quickly, she branded Sherrod a "hero" and "the model of the civil servant."
O’Beirne then informed viewers: "Margaret, let the record show the videos didn’t appear on Fox News till she’d already been fired, so it’s sort of hard to blame them for the incredible overreaction."
UPDATE AT END OF POST: Walsh responds, claims this isn't what she said!
Joan Walsh on Sunday said former USDA official Shirley Sherrod is allowed to say anything she wants about racism -- including calling Fox News and Andrew Breitbart racist -- because her father was killed by a white man.
Discussing last week's controversy on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Salon's Editor-in-Chief actually claimed, "The woman's father was murdered by a white farmer, and there were witnesses, and the white justice system never found the murderer guilty."
"She's entitled to talk about race any way she wants to."
When Matt Lewis of Politics Daily asked incredulously, "Any way she wants to," the sparks began to fly (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Picking up on Shirley Sherrod’s allegation Andrew Breitbart “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery” and “he'd like to see all black people end up again” in slavery, ABC’s Jake Tapper, during his last Sunday as interim host of This Week before the show goes to Christiane Amanpour next week, expressed astonishment she’d be offered a job building racial harmony:
This woman's been offered a job by the Agriculture Department as a Deputy Director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And she's saying Andrew Breitbart wants to return to the days of slavery? Now, you can think what Andrew Breitbart did was reprehensible, irresponsible, unfair and a total smear. Does that justify saying he wants us to go back to the days of slavery?
Earlier in the roundtable, Sam Donaldson equated Fox News hosts with Joe McCarthy and yearned for a Joseph Welch “have you no decency” moment, demanding: “Who are these people that they should pay attention to and be afraid of? Who’s Glenn Beck, I mean, who’s Bill O'Reilly? Who’s Bret whatever his name is?” Donaldson recalled how FDR proclaimed: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” So, the retired ABC News veteran advised: “President Obama, don’t be afraid of them. Take ‘em on and let the people judge.”
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Sunday accused the Fox News Channel of being racist.
With the opening subject of "Fox News Sunday" being last week's controversial termination of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, Dean said, "I think Fox News did something that was absolutely racist. They took a, they had an obligation to find out what was really within the clip."
Dean continued, "They have been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this, this business, and Sotomayor and all this other stuff...The Tea Party called out their racist fringe, and I think the Republican Party's got to stop appealing to its racist fringe."
That apparently was all host Chris Wallace could stand, for he struck back and struck back hard beginning with, "I know facts are inconvenient things, but let's try to deal with the facts" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
(Update: Reuters quietly improves statement by eliminating the word 'often'. Thank you Reuters, for being forthright in the error, er, slipping this in, in the hopes that your readers won't notice. We're certain that all of the Tea Party Patriots being wrongfully portrayed as racist appreciate the effort.)
Reuters recently ran a piece that analyzed persistent race issues amidst the Obama presidency, and managed to take a racial swipe at the Tea Party in the process.
As always, the piece diverts attention away from the President and toward conservatives. Any controversy involving the administration is portrayed as a mere distraction for the President in his alleged post-racial presidency. The analysis draws a conclusion that the ‘right-wing noise machine', conservative groups, conservative media, and the Tea Party/NAACP debate are all implicit in creating this racial distraction - and ultimately taking the spotlight off of Obama and his ‘biggest achievements'. (Is consistently usurping the will of the American people an achievement?)
But what stands out in the article (h/t NewsBuster reader Texndoc) is an obvious misstatement of facts. An implication that racist imagery at Tea Party rallies is prevalent, has been presented as truth. Patricia Zengerle, the White House correspondent at Reuters, writes (emphasis mine), "Images such as Obama with a bone through his nose and the White House with a lawn full of watermelons are often displayed at Tea Party rallies."
Reuters and Zengerle were contacted via e-mail several times for clarification on the statement, but the only response thus far has been ...
The New York Times on Thursday picked through the sordid saga of Shirley Sherrod, fired from her post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a clip of a speech to a gathering of a rural chapter of the Georgia NAACP appeared to show her hostility toward a white farmer seeking assistance.
A full version of the speech shows that was a set-up to Sherrod's tale of racial reconciliation, though there are questions of how far her racial reconciliation really goes. That same speech reveals Sherrod accusing Republicans of being racist by opposing Obama and Obama-care, and Sherrod has gone on to accuse Fox News of using her as a "pawn" for its own reactionary, racist purposes.
Fox News didn't run a report on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned under White House pressure and after the NAACP had issued a press release condemning Sherrod. Yet in "For Fired Agriculture Official, Flurry of Apologies and Job Offer," reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Shaila Dewan, and Brian Stelter, and written by Stolberg, the Times chose to blame a cabal of "right-wing Web sites" and Fox News for fostering the Sherrod scandal which led to her dismissal. As if Fox forced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do its right-wing bidding without ever actually running a single story on Sherrod until after her firing, when the point became moot.
The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized profusely and repeatedly on Wednesday to a black midlevel official for the way she had been humiliated and forced to resign her Agriculture Department job after a conservative blogger put out a misleading video clip that seemed to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer.
By the end of the day, the official, Shirley Sherrod, had gained instant fame and emerged as the heroine of a compelling story about race and redemption.
On Thursday’s The View on ABC, as the group hosted former USDA official Shirley Sherrod to talk about her experience of being fired by the Obama administration, after co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck got her to address comments she had made before the NAACP in which she accused Republicans of challenging President Obama on health care reform because he is black, co-host Joy Behar went on a tirade charging that the Bush administration "did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it," and suggested that President Bush was also indifferent to the black population as she declared that Obama "does give a damn about black people." Behar:
But I wanted to support what Shirley said before, which is that during the Bush administration, you had tax cuts for the wealthiest, and he did not, that whole administration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. That's why Obama was elected in the first place. I mean, even now, the Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment insurance, and yet they're okay with tax cuts to the wealthy. Let me finish! So, now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people.
It wasn't exactly a media-friendly question. CNN co-anchor Kiran Chetry asked Shirley Sherrod on Thursday's "American Morning" if she wanted another news outlet to be shut down entirely – Andrew Breitbart's website, to be exact. "Would you like [Breitbart's] site to be shut down?" Chetry asked Sherrod. Sherrod answered yes, "that would be a great thing."
In lieu of Sherrod's recent travails, CNN co-anchors Chetry and John Roberts brought the embattled former USDA official on-air for an interview. They briefed the audience on Sherrod's rocky background in the race-embittered South, which included having a cross burned in her family's yard and her father being murdered by a white man who was never indicted for the crime.
Then the anchors turned to Breitbart's publication of the edited video showing Sherrod delivering her remarks to NAACP members. Chetry asked Sherrod if she would consider a defamation suit against Breitbart, to which she said she would. Sherrod said later that she would like to help President Obama understand better what some African-Americans have gone through in terms of racially-motivated abuse.
Then the dialogue morphed from that of a sympathetic interview into a full-fledged shower of praise for Sherrod.