Sherrod: I want to talk to Obama; Update: Obama phones Sherrod, asks her to take new USDA job

She doesn’t want an apology, just a little telephonic beer-summit on race. I’m sure he’ll agree to it, too. The One does, famously, like to remain above the fray on racial clusterfarks — that is, when he isn’t instigating them — but he needs to make this go away and granting Sherrod her wish is the quickest way to do that. In fact, given that she sounds disinclined to accept Vilsack’s new job offer for the understandable reason that she doesn’t want the headache of being the “race czar” or whatever at Agriculture, a direct appeal from the throne might be the only way to get her to accept. The media wants a happy ending here, champ. Make it happen.

Speaking of happy endings, kudos to Howard Kurtz (for once) for gently reminding the media that it wasn’t, in fact, some sort of on-air pogrom at Fox News that pressured Vilsack into canning her. A source at Fox actually told me on Monday that they’d been instructed not to mention the Sherrod clip on air until the network had time to check into it. I didn’t mention that in any posts because I had no evidence that it was true, but now the LA Times confirms that it is:

Michael Clemente, senior vice president of news editorial, said the network’s news programs reported the story with caution. “When I heard about this Monday morning and saw it on Breitbart’s website, I said, ‘OK, could be a story, let’s check it out,’ ” Clemente said. “We did the normal fact-finding we would do on any story.”

At an afternoon editorial meeting Monday, Clemente urged the staff to first get the facts and obtain comment from Sherrod before going on air, according to internal notes from the meeting that were provided to The Times. “Let’s make sure we do this right,” he said.

Sherrod ended up resigning Monday afternoon, hours before O’Reilly broke the story on his show. The first reported piece on Fox News, by correspondent James Rosen, aired on Tuesday morning, and included a second video clip that added context to Sherrod’s comments.

Presumably they felt it was safe to run on O’Reilly once Sherrod was fired on the theory that the USDA must have seen the full tape before letting her go. Oops. Exit question: Is Sherrod week in the blogosphere finally over?

Update: Ask and ye shall receive.

Update: As expected, The One asked her to accept Vilsack’s job offer.

Is seven minutes long enough for a thoughtful conversation on race?

President Obama early this afternoon phoned Shirley Sherrod, expressing regret to the former Agriculture Department official whose forced resignation has caused the administration a great deal of embarrassment.

The president and Sherrod spoke from 12:35 pm ET until 12:42, and the president emphasized that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “was sincere in his apology” Wednesday, an official White House statement said, as well as in his larger mission to end discrimination at the department.