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Special Report

Shirley Sherrod and the Rush Judgment

As victims of unfair media treatment go, Shirley Sherrod got off easy. Within 24 hours of her forced resignation from the Agriculture Department, she had been apologized to, offered a new job and later, even got a call from the president himself.

All of this a consequence of a truncated Internet videotape that made it appear she had once done less than her best for a white farmer because of his race. It was unfair and the apologies were deserved. But initial the rush to judge Sherrod was not the only rush to judgment in this affair.

Consider -- Sherrod herself says she was ordered last Monday to resign immediately by a senior agriculture official who said Sherrod was going to be on Glenn Beck's Fox program that night. In fact, Glenn Beck did not say a word about Shirley Sherrod until the next night when he defended her. Bill O'Reilly called for her to step down on Monday, but by her account she had already quit before he spoke. And O'Reilly apologized the next night.

Indeed, Shirley Sherrod was not mentioned on Fox News Channel or on FoxNews.com until after the Obama administration had forced her out. And no news -- as opposed to opinion -- broadcast on Fox ever accused Sherrod of racism.

But Sherrod blamed Fox and accused the network of racism. So did numerous others, including the NAACP and former Democratic Chairman Howard Dean on "Fox News Sunday," though it became clear from Chris Wallace's questioning that Dean had no idea what the facts were.

You might think this would be the stuff of further apology, but somehow I'm not holding my breath.