White House sorry, Breitbart sympathetic, NAACP snookered: have we learned anything from Shirley Sherrod?

The World

In this day and age, we’re used to the rapid rise and fall of public officials. This week, the story changed, and instead, we witnessed the rapid fall and then rise of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA official who was pressured to resign after a video of her making racially-tinged remarks was made public by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

One day after pressuring her to resign, the Obama administration and USDA chief Tom Vilsack publicly apologized to Sherrod. That’s after she launched a media counteroffensive, proving that her remarks had been taken wildly out of context. In fact, the tale of racism against a white farmer in 1986 was intended to illustrate how her thinking on race had evolved.

Meanwhile, Breitbart says he’s sympathetic to Sherrod and intended the video to illustrate the hypocrisy of the NAACP. They too, apologized to Sherrod, saying they were “snookered.”

All of this has a lot of people asking: shouldn’t we just have investigated the facts behind the video and saved the Obama administration, the NAACP, and Secretary Vilsack the trouble of apologizing?

Stephen L. Carter, Yale Law Professor and author of popular novels including ‘Jericho’s Fall’ and ‘The Emperor of Ocean Park,’ says the problem is that we don’t question the media or think deeply enough.

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