After we reported yesterday that the Shirley Sherrod scandal came the same week as the Senate may vote on authorizing $1.15 billion in restitution for black farmers, Andrew Breitbart wrote us that that had nothing to do with it.
“No. Seriously. On everything I hold dear,” Breitbart swore in an email to TPMmuckraker. As he has since the full-length video of Sherrod’s speech came out, sparking a backlash against him, Breitbart reiterated that none of this was ever about Sherrod personally.
“This was never about Sherrod. It was CLEARLY telegraphed at NAACP — on Thursday when I, gulp, told Ben Jealous to “go to hell” for spending week attacking racism with Tea Party. That the media and White House have turned this into me versus Sherrod is silly. My consistent angle is defending Tea Party from this predictable line of attack,” he wrote.
The restitution, known as the Pigford settlement, is the result of class action lawsuits by black farmers who say they were discriminated against by the USDA. President Obama announced the new settlement this February; Congress has yet to authorize the funds. Some conservatives have publicly railed against the settlements, and suggested that Sherrod’s pressure to resign had something to do with her winning her own settlement just before her hiring in 2009.
Breitbart was the one who originally posted the clip of Sherrod speaking to a local Georgia chapter of the NAACP. In the clip, she talks about choosing not to do all she could to help a white farmer in 1986.
The clip cost her her job at the USDA. But the NAACP eventually posted video of her full speech, showing that she was using the story of her own prejudice to illustrate the importance of overcoming the idea of race.
Breitbart has maintained that he was never trying to prove that Sherrod was racist. He says he was only trying to show that the NAACP is racist, something he says is proven by the reaction of the NAACP audience to Sherrod’s speech.
The NAACP last week passed a resolution condemning racist elements of the Tea Party movement, of which Breitbart is a vocal champion.