The misleading video, from a source the unapologetic Mr. Breitbart has refused to identify, takes comments made by Ms. Sherrod totally out of context and suggests that she denied assistance to a white farmer solely based on his race. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack was quick to force Ms. Sherrod to resign, based on the perception of Ms. Sherrod that was presented by Mr. Breitbart. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous quickly denounced Ms. Sherrod, as well. This happened before the truth about Ms. Sherrod’s statements became known.
When the truth became known, retractions and apologies were issued by the USDA Secretary Vilsack, the White House, and the NAACP president.
Now, what is of importance in this event is that Mr. Vilsack, the man directly responsible for Ms. Sherrod’s ouster, then followed the principles of “Restorative Justice” (as is taught at Campbell University’s School of Law) in dealing with Ms. Sherrod. Those principles include: 1) Acknowledging a mistake (he admitted he made a mistake by acting without having all of the facts); 2) Apologizing (he apologized profusely and publicly to Ms. Sherrod); 3) Restoring her to her pre-incident status (he offered her another job in the agency); and 4) Preventing such an incident from occurring in the future (he stated that he would take time to fully investigate complaints in the future before taking any action). For his response to his mistake, I applaud Mr. Vilsack.
At the other end of the spectrum is Andrew Breitbart, who refused to apologize to Ms. Sherrod, but even denies any problem with his blog that was responsible for the furor that followed. Even Fox’s Bill O’Reilly offered a half-hearted apology to Ms. Sherrod for calling for firing early on in this story’s cycle. By and large, most individuals connected to this story and who acted prematurely based on the misleading Breitbart blog, did exhibit conscientiousness and common sense by issuing an appropriate mea culpa to victim Sherrod.
As unfortunate and despicable as the actions that were taken against Ms. Sherrod because of lies disseminated by Breitbart’s blog, the consequences she suffered pale in comparison to those suffered by the falsely accused Duke Lacrosse victim Crystal Mangum, and former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. First and foremost, the snippet of video featuring Ms. Sherrod, was taken out of context, whereas the lies about Ms. Mangum and Mr. Nifong were total fabrications. Many lies have been presented by the media and the state against Ms. Mangum, including the unsubstantiated claim that she attempted to murder her ex-boyfriend. This lie was the basis for justifying the extremely high bail of $1 million, set by Magistrate B. Wakil. Although she was charged with the attempted first degree murder charge at arrest, the charge was never sought before the grand jury because Prosecutor Angela Garcia-Lamarca knew that the charge was bogus beyond belief. What is so insidious is that the Durham Police Department trumped up the charge of first-degree arson and used it for the purpose of forcing Ms. Mangum to serve a lengthy prison sentence. To add icing to the cake, the prosecution also trumped up vandalism charges against Ms. Mangum, accusing her of damaging the windshield and tires of her ex-boyfriend’s car. The media, for the most part, has ignored this accusation, more likely than not because they doubt its credibility. The state and media should follow the lead of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in the Sherrod affair, and immediately act in accordance with the principles of Restorative Justice in its dealings with Ms. Mangum.
With respect to Mike Nifong, many lies have been fabricated and disseminated by the state and media, but I will focus on one of the most blatant examples – the statement by MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst Susan F. Filan in an online article titled “Nifong punishment extreme, appropriate.” In that article, Ms. Filan stated that Mr. Nifong asked his son to attend his disciplinary hearing before the State Bar in order to garner sympathy. She then berates Mr. Nifong for using his son, and being an insensitive and selfish parent. The only problem with this scenario is that it is totally fabricated… a figment of Ms. Filan’s imagination.
What is even more disturbing is that the head honchos at NBC-Universal refuse to acknowledge the falsity of Ms. Filan’s statement… thereby supporting the false and misleading statements that impugn Mr. Nifong’s character and expose him to unwarranted public scorn. Rick Cotton, Executive Vice president and General Counsel, and Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, have both refused to accept certified correspondence questioning the accuracy of Ms. Filan’s article.
Ms. Filan and MSNBC need to take up Restorative Justice principles with respect to Mr. Nifong. He is not the only one to whom they owe such a response, as they purposely duped their subscribers and viewers. Furthermore, it is advisable for them to rectify the erroneous article by Ms. Filan in order to help re-establish their own credibility. For them not to take such steps only reinforces their position as being biased against Mike Nifong.
An extensive report is now available on our official website. A link will be provided to the directory of the newly established “Investigative Reports” page. Click on the only button currently with a report, and it will bring up the story. The report shows all documents in my possession that are related to the false statement made by Ms. Filan and the refusal be NBC-Universal big-wigs to take responsible and corrective actions.