Sunday shows: Race relations examined

Race relations get re-examined on the Sunday talk show circuit in the wake of the Obama administration’s forced resignation this week of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod and the Senate’s subsequent removal of reparations for black farmers.

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks on the subject on “Fox News Sunday.” Abigail Thernstrom, vice chair for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and former commission member and now dean of the University of California at Berkeley law school Christopher Edley appears on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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Agriculture Department officials pressured Sherrod — USDA’s director of rural development in Georgia — to resign on Monday over suspicion fueled by conservative charges that she made racist comments regarding white farmers.

President Obama called Sherrod Thursday to apologize once those charges were deemed unfounded and said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “jumped the gun” in forcing her to step down.

The incident is the latest in an extensive history of accusations against USDA for discrimination in its hiring and other actions. Sherrod was a claimant in a case against the department and was part of a cooperative that won $13 million last year.

The same day that Obama phoned Sherrod to apologize, the Senate stripped from a war emergency spending bill $1.2 billion in discrimination claims to black farmers and another $3.4 billion in funding for a settlement with American Indians who say the federal government swindled them out of royalties.

Republicans objected to the funding — as well as other Democratic spending priorities in the bill — because they did not agree with how they would be paid for. Democrats had offered a variety of ways to pay for them and not add to the deficit, including a package that includes tax increases on oil and multinational companies. Republicans contend the money to the black farmers and American Indians belong in annual spending bills the Senate is expected to take up in September.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appears both on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week.”

Geithner tells “Meet the Press” that the economy is “gradually getting better,” according to a preview of the interview that airs Sunday.

His comments come after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress this week that the economic outlook for the country is “unusually uncertain.”

Geithner says he is seeing “private investment expand again, job growth starting to come back. And that’s very encouraging.” He cites private forecasters as predicting the economy will “moderately” strengthen in the next 18 months and that the overall view of businesses nationwide is that they are seeing an economy “that’s gradually getting better.”

Two of the biggest and most polarizing firebrands out there — former Democratic National Committee chairman and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich — square off about the upcoming midterm elections on “Fox News Sunday.”

One of the biggest surprises so far since the 2008 elections — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — will make his first national TV talk show appearance on “This Week.” Christie in November last year became the first Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey in 12 years.

Finally, former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden talks to “State of the Union” about the state of the nation’s intelligence program. His appearance follows publication this week of a two-year Washington Post investigation that found the U.S. intelligence system has grown so bloated since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that its effectiveness in making U.S. citizens safer has been seriously questioned.