SAN DIEGO July 29, 2010 -- Shirley Sherrod, the fired and subsequently vindicated Department of Agriculture employee, said today she will sue the conservative blogger who posted edited video on the Internet last week that made her appear racist.
The posted video resulted in Sherrod being fired by the Obama administration, which was followed by public apologies from President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for dismissing her without learning the whole story. Even Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly apologized when it became apparent that the video he aired on his show was incomplete and that Sherrod was telling a story of personal growth, not bigotry.
But Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who posted the spliced video of Sherrod in the first place, has remained unapologetic, despite the fact that the full video features Sherrod telling an NAACP meeting how she became a better person and overcame her biases.
As originally posted, Sherrod spoke about not helping a white farmer as much as she could have. But the instance occurred a quarter century ago. The point of Sherrod's story was that she had been wrong. And the farmer in question jumped to her defense.
Sherrod made it clear today that intends to sue Breitbart.
"He had to know that he was targeting me," Sherrod told reporters at a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists in San Diego.
"He hasn't apologized. I don't want it at this point. He'll definitely hear from me," she said.
When asked if she planned to sue Breitbart, she replied, "I will definitely do it."
Breitbart said Thursday he had not been contacted by Sherrod's attorney. He had no comment on her plans to sue.
Sherrod also put much of the blame on the Fox news channel. When told President Obama told ABC's "The View" today that a lot of people deserved blame for the incident, including his administration and the media for playing up controversy, she said that wasn't accurate.
"It wasn't all media. It was Fox," Sherrod told the black journalists' association. "So I really think he needs to re-examine what he's saying there."
The president used the "reaction and overreaction" to the "bogus controversy" around Sherrod as an example that the nation's "still got work to do when it comes to promoting the values, the fairness and equality."
Speaking before the National Urban League 100th Anniversary Convention in Washington, D.C today Mr. Obama said that former USDA staffer Shirley Sherrod "deserves better" than what happened last week and blamed both the media and his administration.
President Obama Says Shirley Sherrod 'Deserves Better'
"She deserves better than what happened last week when a bogus controversy based on selective and deceiving excerpts of a speech led her -- led to her forced resignation. Many are to blame, for the reaction and overreaction that followed these comments, including my own administration. "
The president today recalled the phone conversation the two had last Thursday and said full story about overcoming biases is one that needs to be told in America.
"It's exactly what we need to hear, because we've all got our biases. And rather than jump to conclusions and point fingers and play some of the games that are played on cable TV, we should all look inward and try to examine what's in our own hearts."
In the wake of the controversy last week – which the administration dubbed a "teachable moment" -- many have called on the president to lead a national conversation on race.
Today, the president said that a truthful, mature and responsible discussion needs to take place about the discrimination and prejudices that still exist in our society. But he said that is a conversation to be led around kitchen tables across America, and not necessarily from a presidential podium.
"A discussion that needs to take place not on cable TV, not just through a bunch of academic symposia or fancy commissions or panels -- not through political posturing -- but around kitchen tables and water coolers and church basements and in our schools and with our kids, all across the country."
Yunji de Nies and Z. Byron Wolf contributed to this report