The White House switchboard — able to conjure up Santa Claus at a moment’s notice for a young Caroline Kennedy — is famous for its ability to track down anyone, anywhere, anytime.
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But last week, both the White House and the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, were unable to muster that switchboard magic to reach Shirley Sherrod, the Department of Agriculture official who was forced to resign based on an edited video clip that made it look as if she had discriminated against a white farmer.
“The White House operator tried on at least two occasions last night and was both unable to reach her and unable to leave a voice mail,” the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said in a briefing Thursday.
Some presidential historians said they were shocked at how long it took a White House that prides itself on being tech savvy — President Obama, after all, fought to keep his BlackBerry — to get through.