Before admitting a "breakdown," Fox aggressively denied prematurely covering Sherrod story

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Fox News Senior Vice President Michael Clemente has now admitted that a "breakdown" allowed Foxnews.com to run a story about Shirley Sherrod's comments before she resigned. Prior to this statement, a barrage of Fox personalities aggressively pushed the claim that Fox had not run with the story before Sherrod's resignation.

Clemente admits a "breakdown" led FoxNews.com to cover Sherrod video prior to resignation

Clemente: A "breakdown" led to FoxNews.com covering Sherrod story prematurely. As Media Matters previously reported, FoxNews.com ran an article headlined "Video Shows USDA Official Saying She Didn't Give 'Full Force' of Help to White Farmer," before the USDA announced Sherrod's resignation on July 19. On July 28, Clemente told Politico that that story was "a mistake" and that "There was a breakdown in the system and it is being addressed." Politico added: "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."

Prior to Clemente's admission, Fox aggressively claimed it did not cover the story prior to Sherrod's resignation

Perino: "The timeline of all of this is really important. Before the news even broke, she had resigned." On the July 21 edition of Fox & Friends, Dana Perino asserted that Fox did not cover the story until Sherrod resigned, saying "The timeline of all of this is really important. Before the news even broke, she had resigned." Perino added that "I think we should all look before we leap, and nobody likes a double standard."

Doocy: "Fox News did not do the story until after she had already resigned." During the same program Doocy asserted that it is "such an important point" that Fox did not cover the story before she resigned, adding:

DOOCY: Yesterday, the NAACP came out and they said that we are now apologizing to her and they say they were snookered by Fox News and Andrew Breitbart but as Dana mentioned, there's a timeline problem. Fox News did not do the story until after she had already resigned. So she was pressured by the Department of Agriculture to quit, she quit, and then we did the story. So for anybody to say that Fox News pressured her out, that is simply a lie.

Doocy misleadingly claims "Fox News Channel did not touch this story until she had actually quit." On the July 22 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy misleadingly claimed that Fox News Channel had not reported on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned, but did not acknowledge the network's coverage on its website:

DOOCY: [T]here have been a lot of criticisms leveled at Fox News. Fox News Channel did not touch this story until she had actually quit. I mean, Fox News -- some of the commentators started doing this story after she had resigned. It was the White House, it was the NAACP, that drummed her out.

Rosen: It's a "myth" that "Fox News was somehow a catalyzing agent in this." On the July 22 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, correspondent James Rosen misleadingly asserted that it's a "myth, the idea that Fox News was somehow a catalyzing agent in this when in fact Miss Sherrod had resigned long before the first segments on this channel started to run about this story." Rosen did not address Fox's online coverage of the story.

Beck: "The first Fox report came after she had already resigned." On the July 22 edition of his Fox show, Glenn Beck asserted that "The first Fox report came after she had already resigned. How did Fox dupe the White House into firing her when we hadn't aired it?"

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