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July 23rd, 2010
06:40 AM ET

The Moment that Changed Everything

Check out the the extraordinary moment in my interview with Shirley Sherrod and the farmer's wife Eloise Spooner that changed the entire dynamic of the story. This is the very moment when the world was trying to decide whether Shirley discriminated against the wife farmer. If you're interested in having a dialogue on race in America in the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod story this week, I'm more than happy to moderate.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Jeryl

    By the way, I feel that this lady was done a gross injustice. Sometimes there is an over-sensitivity to race.

    July 23, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  2. Scott W

    Funny how the media fails to report Ms. Sherrod's statement that, and I am paraphrasing, "those who opose ObamaCare are doing so because he's black". It's obviously a bigoted statement but I suspect since the MSM feels the same they don't see it that way.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  3. Pam Mathias

    I think everyone owes Mrs. Sherrod an apology. The White House, her boss Vilsack should be fired, all the haters that were so will to jump in and send her hate mail, and make hate calls. We have laws against Hate crimes. But the main person who should be prosecutted over this is Breitbart should be sued. And CNN and Fox news should also check out there stories before they go and put it on the airways. Shame on all of you! You all have ruined this woman's life.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  4. DD


    I feel hopeless this morning. I don't think we'll ever get past race. Mrs. Sherrod is only part of the problem. Even the NAACP abandoned this woman. I can imagine that everyone panicked, especially the USDA, when they saw a black organization throw a black woman under the bus. I'm so frustrated that no one remains focused on Brietbart and how he got the tape and why. He started this firestorm, but now you're off looking for blame elsewhere. But the media is not looking within. What's the media's responsibility in this case. No the focus is on how this black President may have been personally responsible for the firing of a black woman. I just feel sick.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  5. Sherry Slocombe

    I find it interesting that after the initial reports, the media has now made this an Administration problem, instead of a Fox problem. No one even mentions Fox any longer. Lets go back and remind folks that this entire thing started with Fox and their reprehensible reporting!

    July 23, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  6. DD

    I meant to also say that I appreciate the work CNN has done in exposing the situation and telling Mrs. Sherrod's story, but now you're going into the same mode that's part of the larger problem. Let's focus on the issue at hand – Brietbart. He intentionally misled the public and only showed a clip for her speech. I've heard his excuses, but why aren't you following up with who gave him the tape. Why can't you accept Vilsack's assertion that he jumped the gun? Why do people believe the President ordered Vilsack to fire Mrs. Sherrod, I sure don't. In fact I think I think he's the one who intervened to straighten out this situation. It's as if everyone's on this let's crucify Barack Obama bandwagon. You don't have the guts to focus on Fox News and Brietbart. It's always easy to beat up on the President who like always is trying to do the right thing.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  7. dee

    I agree the focus now needs to be on Brietbart and the other news outlets and not Cherly Cook and the Administration. They are trying to tie this President to everything focus on what he is accomplishing. They are trying to track Ms Cook down for what? The Director has spoken take him at his word. Let it rest and give Ms Sherrod some space and give her chance to sit back and gain some perpective of what she has just endured.

    Let's get on with the business of the country and let this story end. CNN gave excellent reporting and coverage and now it is time to move on.

    July 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  8. rosey petals

    If anyone want to hear racist remarks daily just listen to rush, beck, hannity and FOX. Mrs, Sharrod and her husband have been resolving problemsof fairness for all people all their life and suffered the worse racism and barbaric violence with the murder of her father. She grew up in the old wicked south which was hell and still in many cases today for black people and their children. Now, Mr. Johns at CNN tonight had to bring the new black panthers case to equalize the disussion,which is nothing in comparison to KKK but JOHNS failed to report on the biggest longest terror organization in the country and they killed and get away with cold ruthless savage murder and no media hype, THE KKK preach hate and follows with action. Blacks rarely act against racism, they march and pray and love as true christians of their faith.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Dylan

    who talk the truth, the conversation of NAACP in the administration Obama, of a Video. A conversation extremely racist and who createed of division enormous again our population. Or one man who present this convesation to people who he love. Tell me who talk of truth.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  10. Tonya

    CNN was great on the Sherrod Story and once again proves that it is a network concerned with getting the facts, asking tough questions, and having frank and honest discussions. Thank you for not appealing to the reactionary forces in this country. Unlike another network that rushed to judgment and condemnation, you keep your cool and was proactive. Rick's List, CNN This Morning, The Situation Room, John King USA, and CNN Newsroom did excellent jobs. Getting out the facts and not rushing to judgments are the reasons why I watch CNN. To everyone at CNN, I am proud of you. Keep up the good work!!!

    Tonya from Baton Rouge

    July 23, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  11. CC

    Think about this...Why would the NAACP blindly trust Brietbart or Fox News (who reported the Sherrod story after she was fired)? Would any intelligent or sane person trust people they consider to be biased against them to condemn someone that they supposedly like?
    What kind of crazy sense is that? Why are people buying the lame excuse offered by the NAACP?
    Growing up, my family and I were active in the NAACP until my mother had issues with the local chapter. Now I have issues with the entire organization. They are biased...They started out noble, but no more...
    As a mature adult, I am not interested in blaming other people for my shortcomings, and I have very little tolerance of others that do.

    July 24, 2010 at 5:55 am |
  12. CC

    I want to move forward...Study Dr. M.L. King's WONDERFUL writings/speeches. What our politicians (and so-called leaders) are doing (or not doing) is despicable.
    What is racism?
    One of the definitions my dictionary defines it as is "Discrimination or prejudice based on race."
    Would calling a senator a racist only because he called a president a liar during a congressional session be accurate when he never mentioned anything about race (bad manners, yes, but a racist)? The pure assumption that any White person (or non-Black) is racist just because they disagree or dislike the first Black president is actually a racist act. Relishing the opportunity to call any White person (or non-Black) conservative racist while saying nothing (or very little) about Black racist behavior is racism.
    I am Black and have heard many racist comments from other Blacks. I have made a few in my immature, unenlightened past...I understand where the sentiment comes from, but I also know that it is WRONG and should never be tolerated. I still hear many racist comments from Blacks...As a child, I expected it from Whites, but thought Blacks were better...WE ARE NOT...Racism is not as violent as it use to be, but it is still strong...It is only being made worse with loose accusations being made by Democrats...which I am no longer...

    July 24, 2010 at 6:29 am |
  13. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    I wish that more teachable moments could be on the air as Ms. Shirley Sherrod and the farmer's wife Eloise Spooner. There are many topics that need to be done and race is important but disabilities too. The economy is going to be the biggest challenge to everybody and on the territories of the United States, the discrimination against People with Disabilities is a strong topic. The aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod story has helped her but I wish that it could help more people. We need to sit down and take the time to touch topics that our territories are not ready still since 1990 to talk.

    July 24, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  14. C Collett

    Everyone tries to make this a FOX issue, when in reality it was CNN that first ran this. As far as Brietbart, it his right to freedom of speech whether we agree or not on what he does or says. He is no more guilty than the main stream media was with President Bush. As far as I am concered, all media is to be suspect and if you believe what they report then shame on you. Everyone should be able to check stories out before passing them on. And a news organization knows better or they should. In the end Mrs. Sherrod is the one who is suffering through all of this. I am glad to see all sides of the political community supporting here in this mess. I know our family is.

    July 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  15. Glenn Jackson

    This is a moment of rasisium at it s best the time
    Has come to put people with common sense
    experience in position's of authority . Mrs Sherrod should be offered the job of the person
    who rushed to judgement The director of USDA
    the person that fired her has proven he is not qualified to run that organization. civil and criminal actions should be brought against the person and persons and corporations that brought forth the edited tapes in question. The
    Charges would be Felony verbal assault on a
    Human being , Felony Slander and fraudulent
    schemes and artifact all three class A felony and
    also bring civil suit against persons or corporations involved .

    July 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  16. Glenn Jackson

    I also am not leaving out the rush to judgement of the NAACP hasn't the time come for a name
    change to National Association of African American people and a possible change in
    leadership, anyone that would rush to judgement without checking out the fact,s of a speech that was made before the very organization in which he leads is beyond me. The time has come for
    some serious debate among the people in NAACP to revamp it's leadership .

    July 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Al Hamilton

    Good coverage on the lady from Ga.
    who was forced to resign. Very worthy material
    in the age when America seeks racial eqality... yet
    faces racial prejudice

    Al Hamilton
    PS . the lady in blue wearinig a
    wole box of jewelry arond her neck
    sure needs some help on dressing
    for public appearance.
    Thank you..

    July 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  18. JOE CE

    CNN did a good thing in helping to correct the injustice to Shirley Sherrod. However, the news worthy story ended 2 days ago but continues to get large time segments – I think most people feel that there are more important news items out there.

    July 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  19. Victor

    Frankly, after seeing the rerun of Ms. Sherrod's comments on Newsroom this evening, I'm surprised and disappointed that Ms. Sherrod seems to have forgotten that Pres. Obama worked in Chicago as a tenant organizer and seems to me to be quite familiar with BOTH race and CLASS issues in this country. Whatever his upbringing (which was hardly well-off) he had the capacity to learn and care about lowest classes in the urban environment.

    While urban vs. rural issues may have their different manifestations , the UNDERLYING race and class issues ARE THE SAME, whether they are small independent farmers struggling with AGRIBUSINESS and illsighted government (local/state or Federal) or tenants vs. corrupt landlords and illsighted local municipal, county, city.state and Federal policies.

    July 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  20. Eileen Van Tassell

    Don Lemon is doing a fantastic job of covering the Shirley Sharrod story. However, I aree that the origins of the story deserve more investigation. I don't think the Obama administration should be pilloried because of a deliberate attempt by a racist, anti-democratic party individual. This is the same person who torpedoed John Kerry with his phoney "speed-boat" campaign. There's a long history here of deliberate evil-doing that shoulc be exposed to more light. Thanks to Lemon for his coverage of the key stories of the day.

    July 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  21. Eileen Van Tassell

    Tony Harris,Thanks for the suggestion that talks about race should start or continue in neighorhoods. Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, many if not most of the people who attend the ones I've been to are already well on their way to examining their attitudes about race and are willing to listen and think. What about the many who don't want to listen or even consider changing their views? Those I have met in this group are afraid to talk openly about their views if anyone of a different race is present, so I think it is up to white people to take some responsibility and speak up whenever the subject arises. Race relations should be taught in schools by trained teachers as part of every curriculum to in order to stop it.

    July 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  22. Stanley

    all the time you to go back, wake up the old memory, you are responsible unemployment rate, of people black americans. you cause the sorrow and the suffering in the families.

    July 24, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
  23. Linda K.Gentry

    Thank You for letting the world know that Shirly was done horrible by people.The world needs to know about how it really used to be.Horrible for not only black people it was white people too that was taking up for their black friends or Family.Maybe things will get better just for her story getting out showing the shame that people still hurt someone as Precious as Shirly Thank her for me I'am white but this hurts my heart I don't know her but threw this story I do love her God bless her heart and I hope this will never happen to her ever again.

    July 25, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  24. Loretta

    Remarkable! Now the President is to be blamed for every employee termination in every government agency? Just remarkable, and to be blamed when you weren’t even made aware of the termination. We RELY on the media to provide us with ACCURATE information. We ask for good Journalism, is that too much to ask?

    July 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  25. Susan

    Mr. Lemon,
    Thank you for sharing Ms. Sherrod's history with us. Though the beginning of this whole episode has been painful, it is good that her story of growth and healing got told. Meeting Ms. Sherrod and hearing of the persecution that she and other black southerners faced is a reminder that things were very terrible, very recently. I have seen reports that today, blacks are more prejudiced against whites than whites are against blacks. The vicious and violent racism that Ms. Sherrod has experienced in her few decades on this earth would explain this. I am amazed that this level of racism is so recent and not "history." Maybe hers is the story that will help this country discuss and move beyond racism so we can focus on the true problem, which she herself identified, the gulf between the rich and poor. Wow and thank you Don Lemon. (I nominate you to fill Larry King's slot.)

    July 26, 2010 at 1:40 am |
  26. Mr White

    We'll never get over this race issue as long as the liberal media keeps fueling the fire in order to support the President agenda of pitting classes and races.

    July 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm |