The wife of Roger Spooner, the “white farmer” described in the Youtube clip that spurred former USDA official Shirley Sherrod‘s firing, called in to CNN this afternoon to defend her “close friend.” The best news from the interview is that Roger is alive and well, despite reports to the contrary. The interview supports Sherrod’s claim that her firing was unwarranted, and also promises to reconnect her with the Spooners, who credit her with saving their farm.
Here’s the remarkable clip from CNN:
It seems that the USDA and the NAACP may have jumped the gun in judging Sherrod. The NAACP says it is investigating “facts that were not what we were given last night.” A spokesperson tells Mediaite “We’re doing a full investigation, instead of facts that are trickling in, we’re going to speak with Ms. Sherrod, look at the full tape, speak with the farmer(’s wife), and once we’re done with that investigation, we will release a statement.”
Meanwhile, the USDA has just issued this response to questions about firing Sherrod despite her explanation, from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:
Yesterday, I asked for and accepted Ms. Sherrod’s resignation for two reasons. First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.
Our policy is clear. There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA and we strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. We have a duty to ensure that when we provide services to the American people we do so in an equitable manner. But equally important is our duty to instill confidence in the American people that we are fair service providers.
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