Revising The Sherrod Timeline

Well, it looks like my carefully-constructed timeline of the events of Monday, July 19, had a few major flaws in it. For one, I confused Foxnews.com’s first mentioning of the Sherrod story at 1:40/1:41 with the first announcement of her dismissal, which came much later. For another, I’m noticing that others are misstting when Andrew Breitbart released the video — I’ve been saying 11:18, while others say 8:18. That one I was about to eat, too, until I realized that 11:18 a.m. on the East (where I am) is 8:18 in California (where Breitbart is).

So new we have some new details. And it’s looking more and more like “Fox News got Sherrod fired” is complete and utter BS.

Let’s see how things developed through the day:
(All times Eastern, because that’s the time zone for DC, Georgia, and me)

11:18 a.m.: Breitbart releases video.

1:43 p.m.: Story first mentioned on Fox Nation (Fox’s online community).

(Unknown time): WCBS-TV posts story on video. (Prior to 4:30 — see below)

4:30: Drudge links to WCBS-TV story.

5:00: Glenn Beck show starts, no mention of Sherrod.

5:00 (approximately): Bill O’Reilly begins recording his show, near the end plays video and calls for Sherrod’s removal.

5:58: Video hits foxnews.com

6:22: First comment posted on foxnews.com article.

6:30 (approximately): USDA announces Sherrod’s resignation.

8:49: Bill O’Reilly’s denunciation of Sherrod airs.

We also have Sherrod’s own account of her dismissal. She doesn’t give time stamps, but does cite several things that narrow down the window of time considerably.

She says that she got at least three calls from her bosses, all calling for her to resign. The last one finally took. It came in while she was driving home, and one of her bosses told her that she was going to be on Glenn Beck’s show that night, the White House had repeatedly called and demanded she be dismissed, and Sherrod should pull over immediately and text in her resignation.

Three calls. Let’s say each took five minutes, and were at least twenty minutes apart. (I think that’s reasonable.) The reference to Glenn Beck’s show puts it before 5:00, and Sherrod driving home puts it no sooner than mid-afternoon. If Sherrod either started work early that day or knocked off early, she could have been driving home between 4 and 5 to get those calls.

The big question remains: just what drove the Obama administration to fire her so quickly and decisively? They’ve admitted it was a mistake, but what was their thinking on the matter?

Likewise, why did the NAACP issue their condemnation so quickly? Why did both of these organizations rush to judgment here?

I see several explanations here, and not only do they not conflict, they complement each other quite nicely.

First up, it wasn’t Fox News that drove the decision. It was their fear of Fox News. They didn’t jump because Fox News said jump, they jumped because they expected Fox News to say jump and wanted to get ahead of the curve. They didn’t want to seem to be doing Fox’s bidding, they wanted to pre-empt Fox’s message.

Next, there is the possibility that they knew that Sherrod held highly divisive racial beliefs. In her reaction to her dismissal, she said she wanted to talk with President Obama to help him understand the “black” experience and perspective, and said Breitbart wanted to return to the days of slavery.

Now, her anger at her treatment is understandable, and it is no surprise that she would lash out at Obama and Breitbart. But note that her immediate response is to accuse them of racism — in Breitbart’s, an extreme form of it that is utterly absurd on its face and almost legally actionable.

In that context, it is entirely conceivable that they knew she was a bomb-thrower on racial matters (her years fighting that billion-dollar lawsuit against the government that was finally settled, coincidentally, just before she was offered a job with the department she was suing) and were not surprised that she’d say and do the sort of things she admitted to in the video. The Obama administration, in this case, wasn’t that invested in her in her position — it could have been an unwritten quid pro quo for settling the lawsuit, and therefore her departure would be no great loss to them. Indeed, it might even help conceal why they gave her the job in the first place.

As for the NAACP… Breitbart says he asked them for the full video before posting his excerpt, and was rebuffed. They had the full speech in their possession, and didn’t bother to review it before issuing their denunciation. It was almost if they knew she was that divisive a person, and wanted to distance themselves from her as quickly as they could — even though she had been their honoree at the event she made that speech.

And they, too, were reacting not to actual events, but their own fears. Breitbart had put them on notice when he publicly proclaimed he was going to expose the racism within their own ranks, and when he released that video of an NAACP honoree (and, likely, member) admitting to practicing race-based discrimination, and the audience murmuring its approval, they took it at face value. Their reaction wasn’t one of shock and disbelief, but of someone caught out.

In brief, they acted guilty.

In the end, Fox News gets a lot of credit. They didn’t act irresponsibly — or, at least, any more irresponsibly than did a lot of others whom the left holds with considerably more respect. And they were given a huge demonstration of the power they command over the powers that be on the left — the mere fear that Fox News MIGHT say or do something is enough to drive those powers into making rash, stupid decisions.

It’s a Change, but not the type anyone was Hoping for.

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Sources:

WCBS-TV Story (ignore date stamp at top of article; first comment is after 5:30 on July 19)

Allahpundit’s supremely useful timeline

Fox News’ own irrefutable rebuttal of accusations

Sherrod’s own account of her removal

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