On Thursday, July 22nd, Shirley Sherrod went on several shows to talk about her firing. That same evening, she talked to Anderson Cooper about the events of this past week and about the man who started this debacle with his intentional slander, Andrew Breitbart. The appearances raise a question of whether or not Sherrod is doing more harm than good in delivering the message of her original story and in exposing Breitbart for the fraud that he is.
Since the release of the unedited Sherrod video and the exposure of the original Big Government post as a shameless attempt at slander, Shirley Sherrod has been making the rounds of virtually every television show, with the notable exception of any show on Fox News. (Good on ya, Shirley! Stay away from Fox.) Her appearances demonstrate that Sherrod can be a forceful advocate for racial unity and for her cause of helping the poor, but that she can also drown out her message by providing more fodder for the right-wing attack machine.
In her media appearances Thursday morning, Sherrod did a good job of sticking to the facts of the story as she knew them and making it clear that Breitbart's edited smear job was completely false. By the time she got to Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday evening, though, she got much more forceful and opinionated.
COOPER: I want to ask you about the -- the man who first posted this edited clip of you, Andrew Breitbart.
He said today -- and I'm quoting him -- he said -- quote -- "If anybody reads the sainted, martyred Sherrod's entire speech, this person has not gotten past black vs. white."
Do you think you have gotten past black vs. white?
SHERROD: I know I have gotten past black vs. white.
He's probably the person who has never gotten past it and never attempted to get past it. So, he can't see -- because he has never tried and because he hasn't, he can't see what I have done to get past it. And he's not interested in what I have done to get past it. I don't think he's interested in seeing anyone get past it, because I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That's where I think he would like to see all black people end up again. And that's why...
COOPER: You think -- you think he's racist?
SHERROD: ... I think he's so vicious. Yes, I do.
And I think that's why he's so vicious against a black president, you know. He would go after me. I don't think it was even the NAACP he was totally after. I think he was after a black president.
COOPER: So, when he says this wasn't about you, that this was just about the NAACP and what he says is their racist -- or their bias, you say you don't buy that?
SHERROD: I don't buy it at all.
What has he done to -- to promote unity among the races? Tell me. Let me -- tell him to come forward and tell us what he has done. I haven't seen him do anything but try to divide us, you know. Where does he think this will take us? What -- what does he think this will accomplish -- accomplish?
I would like to hear him answer that.
COOPER: Are you...
SHERROD: And I would like him to show me how he's not a racist.
COOPER: Are you thinking of pursuing any kind of legal action against him?
SHERROD: I'm certainly not going to turn, you know, away from that, if that's a possibility. I'm certainly going to look at it.
COOPER: Have you come to terms at all with what's happened? Or have you been able to step back from it and kind of look at this in perspective at all?
SHERROD: Not totally.
But, you know, Anderson, I have been through tough times dating back many, many years. And I can't let even this knock me down. I know that there's lots more to be done. I'm a fighter. I am a fighter. And I will continue to fight.
COOPER: Shirley Sherrod, I appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you.
I completely understand Sherrod being outraged at Breitbart and at how he has completely overturned her life in the short space of a week, but at what point does her rhetoric become counter-productive? Even prior to Cooper's interview, the wingnut media was clinging to the claim that Sherrod's comments on the video outside of her personal story contradicted her assertion that she no longer saw things as black vs. white, but as poor vs. rich. Going after Breitbart with personal attacks and asserting that he wants to return America to the times of slavery does little to help dispel those accusations.
I despise Breitbart as much as any other decent human being, but my fear is that this will turn into a personal battle of hyperbole and overheated rhetoric instead of what it should be. This should be a golden opportunity to expose Breitbart and taint his name so badly that no news organization, not even Fox News, will dare mention his name or use any material he puts up on his websites. The media should be hounding him every day for details on how, where, when, and from whom he received the video and be exposing his lies and contradictions until he breaks and is disavowed by every reputable conservative who has a voice on TV, radio, or the Internet. If this becomes personal between Breitbart and Sherrod, I'm afraid this opportunity will be lost.
UPDATE: Right after I published this, I saw that jethrock had a diary directly relevant to this question.
UPDATE #2: After reading some of the comments, let me be perfectly clear. I do not think Sherrod is at fault for anything. She got screwed by Breitbart and the rest of the right-wing who willingly passed on his lies and are still doing it. I understand her anger and if I was in her position I would probably call Breitbart a lot worse than what she has called him. I think she should sue him, make him give up his "source" or admit he was the one who edited the video, and take every dime he has. This is simply a question of whether or not it makes it harder to go after Breitbart.
Now, since it's my understanding that a diary isn't complete without a poll: