Politico doesn’t allege that specifically but it’s picking up on a squabble between Fox fan Johnny Dollar and Media Matters, the latter of which naturally is desperate to lay the blame for all of this on FNC’s doorstep but flummoxed by the fact that the network didn’t run the Sherrod clip until after she had resigned. The obvious solution? Focus on the website and blame them for the firing. Follow the link and read JD’s post for background, but in the meantime here’s Fox News VP Michael Clemente offering a mea culpa:
FoxNews.com did run a story about the existence of the video, titled “Video Shows USDA Official Saying She Didn’t Give ‘Full Force’ of Help to White Farmer” at 5:18 p.m. on Monday, an hour and a half before the Agriculture Department announced Sherrod’s resignation.
And Wednesday, Clemente told POLITICO that was a mistake.
“There was a breakdown in the system, and it is being addressed,” he said. “But it must say something about the power of Fox, that a week after she resigned, we’re still talking about this.”
The breakdown occurred following Fox’s afternoon news meeting that day, when Clemente, according to The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz offered the following advice: “Let’s take our time and get the facts straight on this story. Can we get confirmation and comments from Sherrod before going on-air. Let’s make sure we do this right.”
Clemente said he gave the advice in the meeting, not in a memo to staff, and his guidance clearly did not make it down to the reporter and producers who put the story on FoxNews.com.
Fox Nation had the story at 1:43 p.m. but it didn’t break big until Drudge linked to … a CBS story at around 4:30 p.m., 48 minutes before FoxNews.com reportedly published anything. Two points, though. First, didn’t Sherrod say she was told that one of the reasons she had to resign was because she was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight” (which she wasn’t)? That suggests that the gears were turning to push her out before Beck hit the airwaves at 5 p.m. ET … which was also 18 minutes before FoxNews.com published anything. You have to read waaay down into the Politico article to be reminded of that. Second, as Johnny Dollar noted in replying to Media Matters, if you look at the comments to the original FoxNews.com article, the first one doesn’t appear until 6:22 p.m., more than an hour after Politico claims the article first went live. Er, how can that be? Wouldn’t there have been 64 minutes of comments in there if Politico’s timeline is correct?
Update: Well, well. Don’t look now but Politico’s corrected its story. It was 5:58 when the FoxNews.com story first appeared, not 5:18.