Breitbart's Sherrod/NAACP story disintegrates

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Yesterday, Andrew Breitbart released heavily edited video of a speech that Shirley Sherrod, then-USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development gave at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia this year. Breitbart writes that in the video, "this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions."

But Breitbart's suggestion that Sherrod was describing actions that she recently took as an Obama administration official is clearly false.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sherrod said that her comments had been taken out of context, and that the story she had described took place decades ago, when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund:

But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren't told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago -- before she got the USDA job -- when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife.

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race."

The facts corroborate Sherrod's statements about when the story she described took place. In the video, Sherrod describes her work helping a "white farmer save his farm." Sherrod says in the video that she took the farmer to a lawyer who "had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farm."

Chapter 12 bankruptcy was enacted in 1986. In a June 2009 press release touting Sherrod's appointment to USDA, the Federation/LAF states that Sherrod had worked for them "Since 1985."

Breitbart has still yet to release the full video of Sherrod's speech.

In a CNN interview today, the wife of the farmer called Sherrod a "friend" and praised her for having "helped us save our farm."

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Andrew Breitbart
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