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“A disservice was done, for which we apologize,” Mr. Gibbs told reporters at Wednesday’s press briefing, which was dominated by questions on the matter. “I think everybody has to go back and look at what has happened over the past 24 to 36 hours, and ask ourselves how we got into this. How did we not ask the right questions? How did you all not ask the right questions?”

Mr. Obama has been briefed on the situation, said Mr. Gibbs, who wouldn’t elaborate on his reaction other than to say that an injustice had been done.

Mrs. Sherrod was forced out after Andrew Breitbart posted Monday at his Big Government website a videotape of her telling an NAACP chapter in March that she once held back on offering aid to a white farmer because of his race. The tape shows audience members laughing as Mrs. Sherrod recounts her actions.

It turns out the incident occurred 24 years ago, and that at the end of the tape, she tells the crowd that she was wrong to have done so, because it’s not about “white and black,” but “it’s about poor versus those who have.”

Mrs. Sherrod did ultimately assist the family. Both Roger Spooner and wife Eloise praised Mrs. Sherrod on Tuesday for helping save the farm. Mrs. Spooner said of firing Mrs. Sherrod: “They have not treated her right.”

The episode came as the latest salvo in a scuffle over race that began last week when the NAACP condemned the “tea party” movement for what it called the movement’s “racist elements and activities.” Tea party officials have denied that they tolerate racism.

The White House isn’t the only group acknowledging having acted prematurely. The NAACP, which initially had branded Ms. Sherrod’s remarks as racist and said “the reaction from many in the audience is disturbing,” now says it was “snookered” by Mr. Breitbart and Fox News.

On Wednesday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the firing “should never have happened.”

“No one should be so unfairly accused. And no one should lose their job without a fair chance to respond to the allegations against them. Of course, Shirley Sherrod should be reinstated to an appropriate position.”

The NAACP also posted the full video on its website. Mrs. Sherrod’s speech came at a banquet given by the NAACP’s Georgia branch.

Mr. Breitbart denied Wednesday snookering anybody, saying that he only was given the tape segment he posted, while the NAACP always had access to the entire video.

Shirley Sherrod’s story doesn’t change the fact [NAACP President] Ben Jealous had access to the entire video and blasted Sherrod without watching it. That is not the fault of Andrew Breitbart, nor is it the fault of Fox News. It is the fault of only one person, Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP,” wrote Jeff Dunetz at Mr. Breitbart’s Big Government site.

On Wednesday’s show, Fox News host Glenn Beck denounced Mr. Gibbs‘ words, telling him: “Don’t try to spread the blame. I didn’t fire her. You did. Nobody here at Fox News fired her. You did. Yeah. Without the facts.”

On Tuesday, Mrs. Sherrod had blamed the NAACP in part for her firing and accused the group of a rush to judgment.

“The NAACP has not tried to contact me one time, and they are the reason why this happened. They got into a fight with the tea party and all of this came out as a result of that,” she told CNN on Tuesday. “I would have appreciated having the NAACP at least contact me … to try to get the truth.”

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