Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

What lesson did the White House take from Sherrod?

According to some of Ben Smith's administration sources, Jim Messina, White House deputy chief of staff, was impressed by the speed with which Tom Vilsack canned Shirley Sherrod. "We could have waited all day," he reportedly said. "We could have had a media circus. But we took decisive action and it’s a good example of how to respond in this atmosphere."

If that's correct -- and some of Smith's White House sources are sort of disputing it -- it's exactly the wrong lesson. In this atmosphere, where news travels fast but a lot of important information travels slowly, you can't put yourself on the schedule of the media circus. You have to put yourself on the schedule of good decisions. Enduring a day of bad press while you figure out the right thing to do is better than enduring days of bad press as you overreact and then have to defend or reverse your decision, which in turn leaves you without needed personnel.

The Obama White House has long criticized the 24-hour news cycle, and they've been right to do so. It would be a shame if they decided to give up and get on it themselves.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Lunch break
Next: Different states are having different recessions

Comments

The fall-out from this story has been sad on many fronts.

If somehow, the main point of Shirley Sherrod's speech is talked about more -- that we need stop focusing on black vs. white and instead focus on the poor helping themselves and getting the help they need -- then maybe there will be something positive to take away from what has tranpired.

The class disparity that exists seems to be a third rail that never gets discussed in the media.

Posted by: saratogian | July 21, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, this President is supposedly a brilliant Constitutional lawyer whom you and your Journolist buddies helped elect by trying to surpress information about him!

How are you still employed?

Posted by: ProudConservative1 | July 21, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, this President is supposedly a brilliant Constitutional lawyer whom you and your Journolist buddies helped elect by trying to surpress information about him!

How are you still employed?

Posted by: ProudConservative1 | July 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

At the very least, the White House ought to be able to see, based on the record of the past 18 months, that any "report" coming from wingnut media outlets, be they Fox Noyze or the various Breitbart excretions, should be thoroughly vetted before giving them an ounce of credence. Integrity is not exactly the coin of that particular realm & the White House should know that.

Posted by: signsanssignified | July 21, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Unpaid administrative leave pending a review would have been the way to go.

Instead of looking like a fair-minded and decisive manager, Vilsack comes off looking like a weak manager who doesn't fight for his employees when they are unjustly accused of saying and doing things they did not do nor say. His actions should do wonders for morale in his office.

If Messina actually made those comments too, it's a pretty disconcerting statement about the bubble-bunker mentality at work in the administration.

Posted by: JPRS | July 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If anybody should have been critical about Brietbart, I would have thought it would be the Obama administration.

"We could have had a media circus. But we took decisive action and it’s a good example of how to respond in this atmosphere."

That's awesome. He went on to say, "Next time anybody says anything bad about anybody here, we're going to fire them immediately, then set fire to their office, redact all documents that showed they ever worked here, and any further questions will be responded to by sticking our fingers in our ears and shouting 'I can't hear you!' at the top of our lungs. It's a good example of how to respond in this atmosphere."

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@PC1: YOu really belong on breibart's site as you traffic only in innuendo and outright falsehoods.

Posted by: srw3 | July 21, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, JPRS. Unpaid leave gives them the space to make whatever decisions they eventually need to make once they've had a chance to review the facts. Frankly, I'm inclined to say that they keep the person working until the investigation is done if the report comes from an untrustworthy source like Brietbart.

Posted by: MosBen | July 21, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you need better trolls: example1 for today is ProudConservative1. Now the troll claims Journolist was behind Obama's election (by suppressing information no less!) My recollection is that the list wasn't even formed prior to the election. Is that right?

As for the Obama WH staff: I'm negatively impressed, and have been since he assumed office. Too many of O's pals from Chicago who don't recognize that being POTUS is way different than running for POTUS. I can't think of one example where they did Obama or the country any substantive good.

Obama has broken his pick on the rockpile. Four more years would be a waste, because nothing will get done. His Diogenes-light looking for bipartisanship has encountered nothing but dark alleys. He hasn't proved to be change that I can believe in, even though some potentially good legislation has been passed that MIGHT be made actually good if revised to remove the handcuffs and giveaways to right-wing extremism.

I've never in a longish life seen more dispirited progressives after less than 2 years of a Democratic presidency. He's hopeless, not a source of hope. Maybe Timmy or Lloyd can get him a partner job at Goldman Sucks in 2013.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | July 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

jprs is exactly right and beat me to the punch.

as for decisive action, i've got one: decisively can vilsack. he turns out to have done 100% the wrong thing - not just wrong, but stupidly wrong. i would no longer trust him to walk my dog....

Posted by: howard16 | July 21, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@JimPortlandOR: Are you saying you favor electing a Republican president in 2012, who would quite possibly be Sarah Palin? (Journolist began in February 2007, by the way, according to Ezra's blog post of June 25 2010.)

Posted by: thehersch | July 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Sherrod should sue Breitbart and Fox for defamation.

Posted by: newsjunkie10 | July 21, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Fox news and their minions are going too far, this is nothing short of defamation of character and slander by a so called “fair and balance” right wing fringe news organization. People are getting hurt, they are instigating a race war. Fox and these right wing conservative hypocritical scoundrels need to be stopped and put in their place. They need to be held accountable for the outcome of the adulterated “news” stories they put out. People have already been hurt and many more will if this hateful, divisive and blatantly disturbing news channel is stopped or is held to the same standards as other news organizations. Fact checking before reporting is essential. The fact that they ran with a clip posted on a radical tea party ultra conservative website with a bone to pick should have automatically been a red flag. Shame on Fox and anyone else who knowingly went along with this piece of defamatory and crap.

Posted by: v4real | July 21, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Breaking: Conservative Establishment Rewards Racism for 50 Years

http://amplemedia.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/written-proof-president-george-w-bush-american-enterprise-institute-reward-racism-2/

Posted by: yakkuton | July 23, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Breaking: Conservative Establishment Rewards Racism for 50 Years

http://amplemedia.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/written-proof-president-george-w-bush-american-enterprise-institute-reward-racism-2/

Posted by: yakkuton | July 23, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company