This whole episode screams "Why can't we have reasonable discussions about racial issues???" at me.
The answer is twofold: First, Andrew Breitbart is a dirty, lying SOB who thrives on waving his malodorous lies around on Fox News and the Internet. Second, the White House or USDA, depending upon which story you read, believed him.
Here's the story in short bites:
Shirley Sherrod was an employee of the USDA; specifically, the USDA Georgia director of rural development. In a speech to the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, she tells a story that appears to indicate she prefers to put black folks ahead of white folks.
Breitbart edits the video, puts it up, and the world goes mad. Sherrod
is fired resigns, after being told pressure is coming from the White House to fire her.
Does this sound like the ACORN story? Via Salon:
Sherrod was speaking to a Georgia chapter of the NAACP. In the speech, according to Breitbart's characterization, Sherrod is explaining how she refused to help a white farmer as much as she could have because she preferred to help black people. Breitbart:
We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia director of rural development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.
The speech wasn't to an all-black audience (though the specter of black people revealing their contempt for whitey in closed-door meetings of fellow black people seems to drive a lot of conservatives into a paranoid frenzy), as the mayor of Douglas, Ga., was among the white attendees. And the story Sherrod told was about her work 24 years ago for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, not "her federal duties." So, that's a lie. Andrew Breitbart is lying in this paragraph. Just for the record. Andrew Breitbart lies.
If the White House or the USDA had bothered to actually look for facts, they might have discovered that Sherrod had ultimately befriended that white farmer she talked about, and helped the family save their farm.
The story Sherrod told was one of redemption, not prejudice. But Breitbart twisted it around into a story that never existed and the White House/USDA took the bait.
As the President so often says, "You're entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts." It might have been good for the folks in the White House to actually think about that before reacting to a lying liar scum like Andrew Breitbart.
Here is the UNEDITED video