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Dublin: 0 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

Obama fires state official over heavily-edited 'racist' YouTube video

The administration forces her to quit – and then takes it back when it sees the full video.

Shirley Sherrod has yet to decide whether she will accept another job in the government.
Image: AP via PA

THE WHITE HOUSE has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn after it forced the sacking of a senior black agriculture official on the back of a heavily edited YouTube video.

The Obama administration had originally supported the decision of agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to force the resignation of Shirley Sherrod after the video – posted by a conservative blogger – caused outrage.

In the video, Sherrod – out of frustation at the treatment of black farmers in her state of Georgia - appears to admit looking unfavourably on the request of a white farmer for aid.

The video caused a significant stir – being picked up by the Fox News Channel – and resulted in Sherrod twice being called by Vilsack’s deputy while driving, and having to pull over on the road to send a resignation email by BlackBerry.

But the full video, when it was released hours later, showed that Sherrod’s story was actually a parable on racial tolerance and an explanation of why every poor person, regardless of ethnicity, deserved help.

Even the wife of the white farmer being helped by Sherrod said the Spooner family “probably wouldn’t have our farm today if it hadn’t been for her.”

The development led the White House to admit that the case needed to be looked at again – with Obama telling ABC News that Vilsack had “jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles.”

Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs also conceded: “A disservice was done. An apology was owed. That’s what we’ve done.”

Sherrod has been offered an alternative job with the department of agriculture but has not, as yet, decided on whether to accept it. She also told NBC News she was considering suing Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who edited and posted the video.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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