*White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just wrapped his daily press briefing and extended an official apology to fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod on behalf of the Obama administration, then, said an investigation would be launched to find out what went wrong.  [Watch press briefing below, along with Sherrod’s reaction.]

Here’s what Gibbs said, referring to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:

“The secretary is trying to reach her,” he said. “I hope the secretary reaches her soon, and they have an opportunity to talk. The Secretary will apologize for the actions that have taken place over the past 24 to 36 hours. And on behalf of the administration, I offer our apologies.”

Gibbs sidestepped a question about whether fear of the conservative media drove the decision to fire Sherrod before knowing the whole story.

“I think everybody has to go back and look at what has happened over the past 24 to 36 hours, and ask ourselves how we got into this. How did we not ask the right questions? How did you all not ask the right questions? How did other people not ask the right questions?,” he said.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsick will apologize to Sherrod in a press conference scheduled for 4:45 p.m. EST today.

Below, watch a discussion of the Sherrod controversy and an interview with Sherrod on CBSNews.com’s “Washington Unplugged.”