*In his first broadcast network interview about the Shirley Sherrod controversy, President Barack Obama says he’s called on his aides and Cabinet members to practice a more patient, deliberative style of governance so that this kind of rush-to-judgment won’t happen again.
After phoning the ousted Agriculture Department official personally on Thursday and expressing his regret, Obama told ABC News he believes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acted too quickly in firing the veteran federal worker over remarks she made to an NAACP audience that were edited by a conservative blogger to make her appear racist.
“He jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles,” stated Obama.
The president said he has instructed “my team” to make sure “that we’re focusing on doing the right thing instead of what looks to be politically necessary at that very moment. We have to take our time and think these issues through.” [Scroll down to watch video.]
The White House on Thursday morning played a one-way game of telephone tag with the fired Sherrod, even as she hop-scotched from network to network saying it was time she heard from Obama.
When the president finally reached her, he passed along “his regrets” for her horrible week, the White House said, and urged her to accept Vilsack’s offer to return to his department in a new post dealing with racial discrimination complaints.
“One of the things I shared with Ms. Sherrod was the fact that the stories that she was telling about her own biases and overcoming them, those were actually good lessons for all of us to learn, because we all have our own biases,” Obama said. “I wrote this in my own book.”
“There was times when I had stereotypes, both blacks and whites, that you had to work through, and you had to admit to yourself,” he said. “We should acknowledge the enormous progress that we’ve made since the time Shirley Sherrod was a child in the Jim Crow South. I’m sitting here as a testament to this myself, as president.”
Asked if the words “I’m sorry” were ever said to her by the president, she told CNN Friday: “He didn’t say I’m sorry in those words. And I really didn’t want to hear the president of the United States say I’m sorry to Shirley Sherrod. Just by simply calling me, I felt it was in a way saying ‘I’m sorry.’ He didn’t have to do it.”