US & Canada

Obama 'regrets' sacking of official Shirley Sherrod

Shirley Sherrod and Tom Vilsack
Image caption Tom Vilsack has already apologised for the sacking

President Barack Obama has called agriculture official Shirley Sherrod to express his "regret" over her recent sacking.

Mrs Sherrod was fired after a blogger posted a video of her apparently suggesting she had not fully helped a farmer because he was white.

It was revealed afterwards that the comments, at an equality group event, had been taken out of context.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has already apologised for the dismissal.

In the edited video clip, Mrs Sherrod appears to say that in 1986 she did not give a Georgia farmer all the assistance she could to save his farm because black farmers were losing their land and he was white.

Mrs Sherrod said the video, first posted on a conservative website, lacked context and was part of a larger story about learning from her mistakes and racial reconciliation, not racism.

'Jumped the gun'

A spokesman for the president said he had told Mrs Sherrod "this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need".

In an interview with ABC News to be broadcast on Friday, Mr Obama said Mr Vilsack had been too quick to judge Ms Sherrod.

"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," Mr Obama said.

He said he had told his administration to learn from the incident.

"I've told my team and I told my agencies that we have to make sure that we're focusing on doing the right thing instead of what looks to be politically necessary at that very moment."

Members of the white family that the anecdote centred on were interviewed by reporters and praised Mrs Sherrod's work.

It was also revealed that Mrs Sherrod's father had been murdered by a white racist who was never prosecuted.

She has been offered a new post by the Department of Agriculture and is currently considering it.

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