George Stephanopoulos Lobbies for Reconciliation Between Obama and Sherrod
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday lobbied Shirley
Sherrod to agree that Barack Obama is trying to improve race relations. The
fired USDA employee first asserted she needed more assurance from the President.
Stephanopoulos prodded, "But, don't you think that President Obama's
committed to that?"
The former Democratic operative turned journalist followed up with another conciliatory question: "You were quite harsh on the White House in the early days as this story unfolded. Are you satisfied now that they've done everything they can, that the President's done everything he can? And that he's fully behind you?"
Sherrod was fired from her position earlier this week after blogger Andrew
Breitbart posted a tape on his website that appeared to show her making racist
comments. The context of the original post has since come under severe scrutiny.
Stephanopoulos did not hold back in flattering Sherrod: "Going from, at one moment being a villain, a symbol of racism, now to someone being a heroine, a symbol of racial redemption. What has that journey been like?"
Of course, the ABC journalist ignored other parts of Sherrod's March 27, 2010 speech to the NAACP. For instance, she also said this:
You know, I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as I've seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried. Didn't it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bush's and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President.
A transcript of the July 22 segment, which aired at 7:04am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: When I spoke with Ms. Shirley Sherrod earlier this morning, she told me that she accepted Secretary Vilsack's apology when he called yesterday. But that she's not ready to accept that job offer.
SHIRLEY SHERROD: That, I just don't know at this point. I really have not had a chance, yet, to look at just what that offer is. As I've said earlier, I really- I know he talked about discrimination and the agency. And after all of these years, that's still happening. I would not want to be the one person in the agency that everyone is looking at to clear up discrimination in the Department of Agriculture.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Seems to me that you're saying, at this point, it's not your personal situation that bothers you so much. You want to know that there's an institutional commitment to fight this discrimination.
SHERROD: Right. Because, if there is, there's some other things that would need to happen within the agency that have not happened to this date.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, don't you think that President Obama's committed to that?
SHERROD: I would hope that he is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were quite harsh on the White House in the early days as this story unfolded. Are you satisfied now that they've done everything they can, that the President's done everything he can? And that he's fully behind you?
SHERROD: You know, I can't say that the President is fully behind me. I would hope that he is. I have not talked to him. He is my President, though. So, I-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you want to talk to him?
SHERROD: I would love to talk to him. But, I respect him as the President of this great nation. And he is my President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's assume he picks up the phone and calls you into the Oval Office. What specifically would you say to him? What do you want him to do?
SHERROD: I'd like for him- he's not someone who has experienced some of the things I've experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him. I don't know whether that would guide him in the way that he deals with others like me. But I'd at least like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, it sounds like you want some reassurance from the President, as well, not just the Secretary.
SHERROD: That would help a little.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, you have been through so much, in the last week or so, at this point. Going from, at one moment being a villain, a symbol of racism, now to someone being a heroine, a symbol of racial redemption. What has that journey been like?
SHERROD: For me, especially in the beginning, it was so tough because my life has been about fairness. And to have people think that I was a racist, someone who's worked against racism all of my life, really, really hurt, to feel that people thought of me in a way that I know I wasn't. And a way that so many people who know me knew that that wasn't me. But the thought of thinking that this country- other people in this country would never know the real me was really, really taxing on me. And then, to move to a point where the truth is out there. And people can see the life that I've lived. I would hope that it could inspire someone else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we can all hope your story's more widely shared. Thanks very much for your time this morning.
-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.