Obama: Shirley Sherrod Deserved Better

US President Barack Obama speaks on education reform at the National Urban League 100th Anniversary Convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, July 29, 2010. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) SAUL LOEB

US President Barack Obama speaks on education reform at the National Urban League 100th Anniversary Convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, July 29, 2010.
SAUL LOEB

President Obama said Thursday morning that former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod "deserved better than what happened last week," a reference to Sherrod's removal from her job on the basis of an out-of-context video snippet posted to a conservative website.

Mr. Obama made the comments at the outset of a speech to the National Urban League that was billed as an address focused on education. But before discussing education he turned to the Sherrod incident, which resulted in apologies from the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and an offer for Sherrod to take a new job within the Department of Agriculture.

The president called the Sherrod matter a "bogus controversy," echoing comments he made in an appearance on ABC's "The View" taped Wednesday calling the controversy "phony." On The View, the president blamed the media for drumming up the story. He suggested the media was often focused on finding controversy as opposed to getting to facts.

Mr. Obama said America needs to do a better job dealing with race, and said many - including how own administration - are to blame for on overreaction to "deceiving" excerpts of Sherrod's comments, which were part of a larger story about how she realized that race should not be the determining factor in who she helps.

The president called for a national discussion of race issues around kitchen tables and water coolers and in schools and church basements. He said Americans should take the opportunity presented by the Sherrod matter to learn from their mistakes.

In his comments to the National Urban League and on "The View," Mr. Obama said the Sherrod matter showed that racial tensions endure in America.

For More Coverage on Shirley Sherrod:

Shirley Sherrod Vows to Sue Andrew Breitbart Obama on The View: Racial Labels Don't Matter Shirley Sherrod's USDA Job Offer: Deputy Director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach Are Liberals Too Concerned with Being "Colorblind?" Obama Strategy on the Shirley Sherrod Case: Silence is Golden Andrew Breitbart: Sherrod "Sees Things Through a Racial Prism" Shirley Sherrod "Very Pleased" After Phone Call with Obama

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