ATLANTA, July 20 (UPI) -- The head of the NAACP says "we were snookered" by Fox News Channel and a Tea Party activist in the case of a U.S. official who resigned amid charges of racism.
Shirley Sherrod resigned Monday as U.S. Department of Agriculture director of rural development for Georgia after Fox News and other media aired a video excerpt from a speech Sherrod made at an NAACP event, describing a 1986 incident in which she did not give a white farmer "the full force of what I could do" to help him avoid foreclosure. The incident occurred before Sherrod, who is black, was a USDA official.
In media appearances Tuesday, Sherrod said the clips aired on Fox and Andrew Breitbart's biggovernment.com Web site omitted the part of her speech in which she said she eventually helped the white farmer. The wife of the farmer told CNN Tuesday Sherrod helped her and her husband save their farm and had become a good friend of theirs.
NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Ben Jealous Monday had said Sherrod "mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race" and said the NAACP was "appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers."
Tuesday, Jealous said his organization had looked at the entire video of Sherrod's speech and concluded the tape that was broadcast was edited "with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans."
"With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias," Jealous said in a statement.
Sherrod told CNN she had been pressured by the White House to resign. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told CNN it was his decision that Sherrod had to resign because her comments compromise her "ability to do her job."
"This isn't a situation where we are necessarily judgmental about the content of the statement, that's not the issue here. I don't believe this woman is a racist at all," Vilsack said.
Breitbart told CNN he released the video because "this is showing racism at an NAACP event."