Much has been written and said about the Shirley Sherrod saga where this Agriculture Department official was forced to resign based on a heavily edited and misleading video by a conservative blogger. The video purported to show racist remarks by Sherrod.
One of the questions raised in the media was: why was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) so quick to condemn her remarks, and why was her employer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) so swift to dismiss her based on this video.
Even President Obama said that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rushed to judgment when he dismissed Sherrod. Vilsack and the NAACP have since apologized to her.
But one aspect has continued to puzzle me: where were the communications experts in all of this? The NAACP and the USDA are professional bodies with, one would think, top-notch public relations and communications professionals at the helm.
Firstly, the video was not from a news gathering organization like Reuters, AP or CNN. That should give them a reason to a pause.
But the bigger question is why didn’t the communications experts advise them to issue this reliable standby:
“We will investigate the matter further, and will issue a statement in due course.”
If the NAACP and USDA had done so, they would have had the time to learn the full facts, and the matter would probably have not deteriorated into such a sorry state.