- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 22, 2010

President Obama personally has called Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department worker who was fired this week after comments she made in a two-minute video clip sparked a media frenzy.

The White House said Mr. Obama made the call Thursday, one day after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to Mrs. Sherrod for deciding to fire her over the video clip without viewing the entire speech. In the remarks, made at an NAACP event in Georgia in March, Ms. Sherrod spoke of how she overcame her own personal prejudices against white farmers.

“The president expressed to Ms. Sherrod his regret about the events of the last several days,” the White House said, noting that the phone call lasted seven minutes. “He emphasized that Secretary Vilsack was sincere in his apology yesterday, and in his work to rid USDA of discrimination.”

Mr. Obama told Mrs. Sherrod that “this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need, and he hopes that she will do so.”

Mr. Vilsack offered Mrs. Sherrod another job, but she has not made a decision whether to take it.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs apologized on behalf of the administration but also levied criticism at the press for its role in the brouhaha.

The short video clip of Mrs. Sherrod’s remarks — which the entire speech shows were taken out of context — first was posted on a conservative website earlier this week. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People inititally condemned her but later said it was “snookered” by Fox News and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

• Kara Rowland can be reached at krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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