The advance team for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told the National Association of Black Journalists on Friday that Steele was canceling the panel discussion scheduled later in the day at its convention in San Diego because of food poisoning, NABJ announced.
An RNC statement said, "While traveling out West the Chairman came down with a bad case of food poisoning. He is disappointed to miss the opportunity to take part in this valuable dialogue and looks forward to engaging with NABJ in the very near future," according to NABJ.
"Steele was scheduled to appear at NABJ one day after former USDA Regional Rural Director Shirley Sherrod indicated that she will take legal action against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who she said caused her to lose her job. Sherrod, who appeared before hundreds of journalists at the NABJ Convention yesterday, was forced to resign after Breitbart posted a video excerpt of a speech she gave to the NAACP and accused her being a racist.
"Steele is scheduled to appear at a RNC fundraiser with Breitbart in California next month."
Asked by Elise Durham, the convention chair, "if there was any relationship between his cancellation and the fundraiser, Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joey Smith said, 'We don’t comment on our finance events and never have,' " the NABJ statement continued.
In an interview with Daniel Stone of Newsweek, Breitbart said, "If I could do it all over again, I should have waited for the full video to get to me" and that "This thing has gotten to a place that’s far beyond where it should be," adding, "I’d be more than happy to meet with her in private and have a discussion with her." Yet he said that if Sherrod does sue him, "there will be a legal team."
NABJ had advertised that Steele "will answer questions about his often controversial statements and other issues as TV One personality and CNN contributor Roland Martin go one-on-one." He was also scheduled to meet with the Trotter Group of African American columnists.
Steele was sure to be asked about the Breitbart connection.
"Unlike Michelle Obama’s appearance at the NAACP convention, Breitbart’s name is not buried among the assorted GOP luminaries scheduled to participate at the event" in California, syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote on Tuesday. "Not only is he billed as one of the headliners, he and Steele will host the opening-night reception. His name even appears ahead of Steele’s on the announcement.
"So why is that? Is it Breitbart’s name and fame, the controversy and curiosity he invariably arouses, the media attention he draws, his staunch GOP troublemaking credentials — and the fact that might be good for a few more bucks in the till — that compel Steele and the RNC to make him the star of their show? The answer, of course, is all of the above. And this makes Breitbart an even more disgusting choice to headline a major event by a major party that claims it is poised to make major gains in the midterm elections and possibly take back the House."
Earlier this month, some Republican leaders called for Steele's resignation after Steele said on July 1 that the war in Afghanistan is "not something that the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." Steele later revised his remarks.
Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: A Conversation on Race? Sherrod's Leading It
Jennifer H. Cunningham, thegrio.com: Black journalists react to Sherrod vs. [Breitbart]
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: More diversity might have served USDA well in Sherrod fiasco
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Political appointees like Sherrod deserve due process
Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: Tired in private but [feisty] onstage, ousted USDA official Shirley Sherrod vows to educate President Obama and sue Andrew Breitbart
Dan Farber, CBSNews.com: Does Shirley Sherrod Have a Solid Legal Case Against Breitbart?
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: With the conversation turning to race, Obama and Steele need to talk
Richard Prince discusses Thursday's column with Keith Murphy of XM/Sirius Radio: The Urban Journal (Go to "Pt. 1" for "7/30")
Sam Stein, Huffington Post: Sherrod's Suit Against Breitbart May Be Hurt By Her Quickly Repaired Reputation
Ryan Tedder, queerty.com: How Shirley Sherrod Ending Up At Prop 8-Loving Doug Manchester's Hyatt Hotel
Shannon Travis, CNN: Poll suggests pessimism over race as NABJ opens
"American Spectator columnist Jeffrey Lord, who wrote a stinging piece this week attacking Shirley Sherrod for saying that a brutally murdered relative was 'lynched,' says he did so' to point out her highly political approach,' Joe Strupp reported Friday for Media Matters for America.
"He also told Media Matters that criticism of the piece from several American Spectator columnists and other conservative writers does not faze him. He cited a past experience with racism in Virginia as a youth as proof that he had true knowledge of racism in America and is qualified to speak about it."
Lord was described as a former Reagan White House political director and author who writes from Pennsylvania.
Chris Ariens, TVNewser: 'There's No Mention of Shirley Sherrod. No Playing of the Clip'
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: The trashing of a good woman, Shirley Sherrod
Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: What Sherrod says about us: The right was quick to see anti-white bias
Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Shirley Sherrod Has Her Say About Obama, Fox News and Andrew Breitbart
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Making sense out of Breitbart's bum story
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Separate fact from prejudice
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: From NABJ: Shirley Sherrod speaks
Rose Russell, Toledo Blade: Sherrod endures the unfairness she shunned
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: 'Post-racial America' is an obvious term of fiction
Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: White farmers are the bright spot in new 'Mockingbird' story
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Obama administration 'a basket case' on issues of race