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Contextless Right-Wing Puke Funnel Video Good Enough for USDA Firing

I’m loath to jump on anything pushed by professional bully Andrew Breitbart, but since he rules the world of the traditional media and, apparently, key agencies in the executive branch, it’s worth retelling this sad story.

Hoo boy. Conservatives apparently aren’t going to back down from ever more overt appeals to racial resentment this summer. “broke” a story yesterday about a speech given a few months ago by Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, at an NAACP Freedom Fund dinner. In it, Sherrod tells a story from 24 years ago about not helping a white farmer as much as she could have because she was “struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land.”

The point of this story, told in a public venue, was that she quickly realized that she had done wrong. “That’s when it was revealed to me that it’s about poor versus those who have. It’s not so much about white…it is about white and black but it’s not, you know…it opened my eyes.”

What’s not in there was that this incident happened in 1986, needless to say well before Obama’s Nubian overlords returned Black America to triumph. But despite the context, selectively edited out of Biff from Back to the Future Breitbart’s post, and despite the fact that the “victim” in this case, the white farmer, called Sherrod a friend for life and said that the official kept the family out of bankruptcy, the USDA nevertheless forced Sherrod out:

Sherrod told CNN on Tuesday that she was told repeatedly to resign Monday afternoon after the clip surfaced.

“They harassed me,” she said. “I got three calls from the White House. At one point they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it because you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

Sherrod said the calls came from Cheryl Cook, USDA deputy undersecretary for rural development.

“The administration was not interested in hearing the truth. They didn’t want to hear the truth,” Sherrod said.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, took full responsibility for the Sherrod firing, saying the White House was not involved in the decision. Vilsack said that the dismissal was correct in light of the history of racism against black farmers at the USDA, and that Sherrod’s judgment has been called into question.

As Digby notes, the defensive, back-on-their-heels executive branch administrators have basically given over their hiring and firing decisions to professional outrage addicts on the right. They have lost the will to fight.

After ACORN and now this, I really have to wonder if the Democrats and Brietbart aren’t actually working together on a whole Sistah Soljah campaign. It’s a little bit hard to see why anyone over 10 years old would fall for the same ruse over and over again. (Hey, maybe their focus groups show that simply alienating liberals isn’t going to impress those swing voters so they need to alienate the black vote too…)

But I also have to wonder if they know what the optics of this are. If two-bit sociopathic wingnuts can scare them to this extent with obviously doctored videos, what happens when they see a real threat? Are they going to flap their arms like penguins and run around in circles screaming “they’re coming to get us, run for your lives!!?” At this point, that doesn’t seem entirely ridiculous.

TPM Muckraker has their own comprehensive look. Shirley Sherrod appears to have been railroaded by a combination of propagandists just looking to get back at the NAACP and put her in the crossfire, and frightened little children inside the Obama Administration who will bow down to whatever nonsensical story the other side can dream up. If these guys were around in the Clinton Administration, we’d be down to President Daniel Inouye, the other members of the line of succession having been impeached for accepting inappropriate gifts or calling Matt Drudge stupid or something.

UPDATE: Reading the twists and turns of how the firing went down, it seems to me that the White House is hiding behind it being “Vilsack’s call,” while they certainly exerted pressure to make this go away, even before knowing all the facts.

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David Dayen

David Dayen