Letters: The Firing Of Shirley Sherrod

Robert Siegel and Michele Norris read from listeners' e-mails about our coverage of the fallout from the firing of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Our coverage yesterday of the fallout from Shirley Sherrod's firing sent many of you to your keyboard.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Sherrod is the former USDA official who was forced out of her job after a conservative blogger posted a video clip of her recalling her reluctance, 24 years ago, to help a white farmer.

But the clip was part of a longer speech about how she recognized and overcame her feelings and ultimately helped the farmer, who has since come to her defense. The White House apologized to Sherrod yesterday.

NORRIS: Here's some of what you had to say about our coverage of the story. Frank Holk(ph) of Wytheville, Virginia, writes this: I found it distressing that you spent the entire time talking about the actions of the administration with barely a mention of Andrew Breitbart and Fox News.

Holk continues: Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to discuss their role in the matter? How about a discussion of Fox's sleazy reporting and Breitbart's fraudulent video editing.

SIEGEL: I could not be more furious. That's from Michael Walker(ph) of Mountain Grove, Missouri. He felt our reporting came up short, taking specific issue with our statement that conservative activists have blurred the lines between journalism and advocacy.

Mr. Walker says: Andrew Breitbart has done no such thing. He has eradicated the line between fact and fiction, or if you will, between the truth and a lie. If NPR cannot call the actions of this prevaricating charlatan a falsehood, then who will?

NORRIS: But Phil Corsello(ph) of Denver, Colorado, believes Sherrod's firing revealed, in his words, an insecure administration. He writes: It was major for what it revealed, the White House's willingness to sacrifice one of their people before the facts were known in an attempt to quell the Republican propaganda machine.

The action was, from the get-go, amateurish, unsavory and disloyal, not a declaration but a whimper.

SIEGEL: Send us your thoughts on anything you hear on our program at npr.org. Just click on contact us at the bottom of the page.

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