Obama Apologizes To Ousted USDA Official
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson has the latest.
MARA LIASSON: The story had all the ingredients for a media spectacle: false charges of racism against an African-American official, a right-wing Internet provocateur, round-the-clock cable news coverage, and an administration admitting it had rushed to judgment and thoroughly blown the case.
Y: 30 today. After the call, Sherrod said the president was very easy to talk to, and that she'd invited him to visit South Georgia.
LIASSON: It was great. You know, he's the president of the United States of America, and I respect him as that. I appreciate him as that.
LIASSON: According to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the conversation lasted seven minutes. The president told her that this apparent misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her work on behalf of those in need.
LIASSON: She's got a remarkable story. He expressed his apologies for the events of the last several days. This is a woman who has a unique set of experiences, both before this incident and now. He thought she was very gracious.
LIASSON: Sherrod has been a farmer and a civil rights activist. She was 17 when her father was shot and killed by a white man. A grand jury later refused to bring murder charges. Before speaking to the president, Sherrod described what she wanted him to know.
LIASSON: You know, I'd like to talk to him a little bit about the experience of - the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroot level, people who live out there in rural America, people who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience. Let me help him a little bit with how we think, how we live.
LIASSON: Here's Breitbart explaining his own objectives on CNN.
LIASSON: This was not about Shirley Sherrod. This was about the NAACP attacking the Tea Party, and this is showing racism at an NAACP event. I did not ask for Shirley Sherrod to be fired. I did not ask for any repercussions for Shirley Sherrod.
LIASSON: Breitbart was angry that the NAACP had condemned elements within the Tea Party that the organization viewed as racist. Breitbart wanted Sherrod's speech to show there was reverse racism inside the NAACP.
SIEGEL: Mara Liasson, NPR News, the White House.
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