NEW YORK — The conservative blogger behind the controversial video that led to Shirley Sherrod’s forced resignation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the footage was released in order to highlight racist behavior in the NAACP, not to target the former government official.
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“I feel bad that they made this about her,” Andrew Breitbart told NBC News on Wednesday. “You do see that she mentions a transformation and I’m sympathetic that they went after her and not the NAACP.”
On Monday, “Big Government” — one of three conservative blogs run by Breitbart — published the two-minute, 38-second video clip from a March 27 NAACP banquet. In the video, Sherrod says she was once in a position to help a white farmer save his land, but did not “give him the full force of what I could do” because he was acting as if he were “superior.”
In a written introduction to the video clip, Breitbart describes Sherrod's story as her "racist tale."
On the TODAY show, Sherrod said her comments were part of a larger story about learning from her mistakes and racial reconciliation. They were not racist, she said, and were taken out of context.
The white farmer, Robert Spooner, and his wife, Eloise, have come forward to defend Sherrod.
Breitbart said Wednesday that he received a tip about the tapes back in April, but did not publish them until the NAACP accused the Tea Party movement last week of having “racist elements” that are a “threat to democracy.” Breitbart said the audience reaction when Sherrod referenced her decision to not help the white farmer offers concrete evidence that the NAACP itself harbors racist elements.
“For the NAACP to conspicuously play the race card for political purposes is wrong, and the goal was to show that here’s evidence of racist behavior,” Breitbart said.
After the grainy clip began circulating in conservative circles online and was picked up by Fox News, Sherrod said she was pressured to step down from her post as director of rural development in Georgia.
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The NAACP initially said Sherrod’s actions were “shameful,” but reversed its statement after the viewing the full video Tuesday.
“We have come to the conclusion that we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement. He later told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that the organization soon “realized that this evidence had been cut and sliced and diced in ways that were intentional and, you know, deeply, deeply troubling.”
Breitbart said Wednesday he had not seen the full clip before he posted the edited footage on Big Government Monday. He said he believes the two-minute, 38-second clip was “newsworthy in and of itself” for its portrayal of what he described as a racial double standard.
Breitbart said he was surprised by how the media “misconstrued” the tapes of Sherrod and that he did not expect that the White House “would throw her under the bus.”
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