Sherrod says she will sue Andrew Breitbart

posted at 12:55 pm on July 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Via Ben Smith at Politico, the utterly predictable next step in the swamp that has become the Sherrod story has taken place:

Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted an edited video of her making racially tinged remarks last week.

The edited video posted by Andrew Breitbart led Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask Sherrod to resign, a decision he reconsidered after seeing the entire video of her March speech to a local NAACP group. In the full speech, Sherrod spoke of racial reconciliation and lessons she learned after initially hesitating to help a white farmer save his home.

She said she doesn’t want an apology from Breitbart for posting the video that took her comments out of context, but told a crowd at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention that she would “definitely sue.”

Sue Breitbart for what, though?  Defamation?  Sherrod is a public official, which makes that kind of lawsuit darned near impossible.  Breitbart used the clip to criticize the NAACP, not Sherrod directly, although she certainly came into the line of fire.  People are allowed to criticize public officials in harsh and even unfair terms, especially when they make public remarks.

A court is not likely to look favorably on this for another reason — Sherrod’s public statements about Breitbart.  She accused him of being pro-slavery, which is a ridiculous and demagogic attack.  Even if a court somehow found that Breitbart acted with malice specifically towards Sherrod to a level that overcomes the right to criticize public officials and that he lied about Sherrod specifically in doing so, under those same terms Breitbart would have a countercase against Sherrod.  Otherwise, Breitbart has become enough of a public figure that Sherrod’s statements about him would probably not be actionable, either.

This lawsuit will make a big splash and keep the story alive for a while, but its value is strictly limited to PR.  I somehow doubt that the Obama administration will see that as beneficial to its own objectives, either, as they seem as anxious to bury the story as anyone involved.


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Breitbart should hire Orly Taitz to defend him.

fastestslug on July 29, 2010 at 2:52 PM

“A court is not likely to look favorably on this…”

There you go again; with unreasonably high expectations of what ought to occur.

You should not assume that a judge, in this day and age, will apply much thought to the law or the merits of the case, but will in all likelihood decide in advance how they want to rule based upon the politics, the demographics of the parties, the favors they might be able to curry with the powers that be, etc.

Let’s take the Krauthammer Spectacles off (you know, the ones that presume no one would act so heinously, even though the ample evidence is that they in fact will), and look at it from the alternate perspective/mindset for a moment;

…black aggrieved woman sues white racist male in a liberal political environment with liberal media hyping the case breathlessly 24/7 and with a black liberal President who might just remember you favorably if you rule the way he’d certainly like you to…

Yeah, if I were Breitbart, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what the court *ought* to do. Of late, we live in a “rule of law be damned” reality, folks.

Midas on July 29, 2010 at 2:58 PM

if she truly had her ‘come to jesus’ moment all those 25 years ago, she would have been above all the fray, but she is knee deep in it…shame

cmsinaz on July 29, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Yeah, if I were Breitbart, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what the court *ought* to do. Of late, we live in a “rule of law be damned” reality, folks.

Midas on July 29, 2010 at 2:58 PM

sad isn’t it

cmsinaz on July 29, 2010 at 2:59 PM

It doesn’t even have PR value any longer and is actually a net negative for the left. Which is why the Obamunists will…um…discourage her from bringing suit anyway.

RadClown on July 29, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Yup, probably the O-bots will put the quietus on her litigation. The last thing they want is for this story to be kept alive.

Zombie in Pajamas Media: Pigford v. Glickman: 86,000 claims from 39,697 total farmers?

If there are only 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire country, then how can over 86,000 of them claim discrimination at the hands of the USDA? Where did the other 46,303 come from?

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Oh goody, can I be the first to read the deposition?

tarpon on July 29, 2010 at 1:47 PM

I would buy that DVD!!! You could make a entire series; Sherrod, her husband, Ben Jealous, Sec of AG., the White House staff, Howard Dean etc.

barnone on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

I somehow doubt that the Obama administration will see that as beneficial to its own objectives, either, as they seem as anxious to bury the story as anyone involved.

I disagree. “Playing the race card” only work because white people are terrified of being called racist. Breitbart’s aggressive criticism serves to dull that fear, which reduces the power of the race hustlers and the Democratic Party by extension. Bankrupting Breitbart with frivolous lawsuits to get rid of him is a viable, however odious, strategy.

Outlander on July 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Sue baby sue! You da bomb baby.
This guy done ya wrong and its’ yer right ta sue!
Don’t worry about any other tapes he may have or what it may do to Pinnochio Obama or the dimwits in congress they will be OK.
Don’t worry that the phony multi million dolla judgement ya screwed the taxpayer out of or the fact that they may not be worth the paper they is printed on!
This White Man owes ya for deflamination or deficatiton or eflation or er, ah, somethin SUE!

dhunter on July 29, 2010 at 3:08 PM

So you’re saying that if someone views the world through a prism of race, then that means they are a racist?
Tom_Shipley on July 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Actual Tom, yes that is Racist.
But that is not the problem, the problem occurs when someone ACTS, based on that tainted view, that is called Racism.

DSchoen on July 29, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Bankrupting Breitbart with frivolous lawsuits to get rid of him is a viable, however odious, strategy.
Outlander on July 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Usually that would be true, but not this time.
As to why Obama wants this to go away, it’s the $13 million pig in the room you’re missing.

Look up “Pigford vs Vilsack” And you will see that $13 million pig in the room!

DSchoen on July 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Sherrod has no case based on the publication of the video itself because “truth” is a defense to both defamation and false light claims. It is true that Sherrod said those words. Breitbart may not have shown the whole video, but he did not manipulate the content of the video. Showing a portion of that video does not constitute an actionable claim. However, if Breitbart made additional comments about Sherrod that were not true, then these comments might be actionable. For example, if he said that she discriminated against the white farmer (and this appears to be false from the subsequent news coverage), then Sherrod may have a claim based on that. However, any claim would be tempered by the fact that Sherrod apparently suffered no damages whatsoever. The government offered Sherrod’s job back to her, or a better one. Her reputation has been more than restored by the mainstream media within 48 hours or less. So, even if Breitbart arguably did something wrong, she cannot sustain a meaningful lawsuit against him because she did not suffer any harm. Therefore, I suspect that such a lawsuit would be prosecuted for political purposes only.

Tiberius2 on July 29, 2010 at 3:24 PM

IF you accept that Sherrod has a case against Breitbart, then it follows that she has a case against the government and the NAACP. The government for firing her without cause which stays on her employment record, and the NAACP for slandering her in public and in discussions with the WH.

Discovery might also bring out evidence of Bammie’s involvement in her firing, which would prove that the WH lied about his involvement. Yeah, I know, what’s one more lie on a long list, but it might make for a good 2012 ad.

slickwillie2001 on July 29, 2010 at 3:25 PM

She’s a fool, and so is any lawyer who takes her case.

LASue on July 29, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Oh, to see the list of ALL THE PEOPLE who will have to give depositions!! I don’t think there is enough room under Obama’s bus!!

crr6: your sage and salient comments, please… We are all hanging on your every word…

Khun Joe on July 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Look up “Pigford vs Vilsack” And you will see that $13 million pig in the room!

DSchoen on July 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

The immediate dismissal on the administration’s part of Sherrod makes me wonder how many more Pigford examples there are. They clearly didn’t want this woman around.

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Breitbart also claims against the NAACP, and the feds for contribution and/or that their actions are the true cause of any damages allegedly sustained by Sherrod. Also, since Sherrod has had her reputation ENHANCED by the after shocks of this scandal, proving damages to her reputation, of only a day would also negate the case. Then we have the fun stuff of discovery where she and her husband, the NAACP and WH and agency officials are deposed on race issues and the firing. Popcorn and good times follow.

eaglewingz08 on July 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Thanks for that link. I did a little research on this, and the entire case looks like a rip off. I think the only pig in Pigford was the plaintiff.

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I would buy that DVD!!! You could make a entire series; Sherrod, her husband, Ben Jealous, Sec of AG., the White House staff, Howard Dean etc.

barnone on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

The DVD I want is, “Jammin’ with Jeremiah” starring the future POTUS and wife.

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to rumble?

Andrew is counting the days until he’s served. Sherrod is so used to playing the race card and seeing that mau-mauing the flack catchers works, that she’s really got no game when going up against a serious and principled opponent like Breitbart. Since he’s going to rack up legal bills fighting this off, he might as well go on the offensive and countersue.

It’s sad, but I’m sure that Sherrod has no clue just how defamatory she was when she said that Breitbart is a racist and yearns for the return of slavery. It’s possible that she ascribes to the belief that black people cannot be racist. We know that the Obama/Holder Dept of Justice ascribes to that belief.

Sherrod has been a “professional black person” her entire life. Her entire life is defined, by herself, in racial and racialist terms. What isn’t racialist is redistributionist and suspicious of unspecified “they” who keep poor whites and poor blacks in conflict and in poverty.

A rational and dispassionate person would, in a truthful world, call Shirley Sherrod a crank, a conspiracy theorist looney tunes fruitcake.

It’s too bad for Shirley that she’s setting herself up for a fall. She’s fallen right into Breitbart’s trap.

rokemronnie on July 29, 2010 at 3:46 PM

she could have mitaged her damages by accepting vilsacks offer of getting her job back. dofus.

DrW on July 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM

A rational and dispassionate person would, in a truthful world, call Shirley Sherrod a crank, a conspiracy theorist looney tunes fruitcake.

rokemronnie on July 29, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Yeah, but there’s a good chance that a “rational and dispassionate person” won’t be hearing this case; it could well be a liberal judge instead.

Midas on July 29, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Breitbart never called her a racist, but she did call him one. Sounds like he has a better defamation case to me.

OxyCon on July 29, 2010 at 4:28 PM

The Pigford case won 150,000 pain and suffering for her. Pain and suffering is big business.

“We must stop the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections”

..Wasn’t al SEX poodle Gore white?

seven on July 29, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Oh, to see the list of ALL THE PEOPLE who will have to give depositions!! I don’t think there is enough room under Obama’s bus!!

Khun Joe on July 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Breitbart would turn over so many rocks and raise so much hell on the left with discovery that he’d need to open a new website. He could call it Big Fishing.

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 4:50 PM

The second this case goes to court, I expect to see a flood of lawsuits against Michael Moore…and Chris Matthews…and every politician who ever released a campaign ad in their life featuring their opponent.

Wronged or not, this woman is an idiot and does not deserve her office back.

ynot4tony2 on July 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Yep, Piford stinks on ice, but it hasn’t been given much attention… yet. Not a doubt in my mind that, if pursued by someone like Breitbart, it would lead to damaging embarrassments for O-bots.

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 4:55 PM

*Pigford*

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 4:56 PM

The second this case goes to court, I expect to see a flood of lawsuits against Michael Moore…and Chris Matthews…and every politician who ever released a campaign ad in their life featuring their opponent.

Wronged or not, this woman is an idiot and does not deserve her office back.

ynot4tony2 on July 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Yes, Mr. Moore is likely soiling his plus-size pants about now.

inviolet on July 29, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Breitbart would turn over so many rocks and raise so much hell on the left with discovery that he’d need to open a new website. He could call it Big Fishing.

petefrt on July 29, 2010 at 4:50 PM

It’s time to bring it on. Let’s have an honest discussion about this crap, and I dare Holder to call us “cowards” again. The head of the DoJ is trying to intimidate the American public, and I’m not going to be silent.

It’s over as far as I’m concerned. Finished. Race baiters play on the past and prey on those who had no part. I won’t be a party to unmitigated greed and bigotry any longer.

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 6:33 PM

If 90% of a race support garbage like this regularly, then what’s the big deal with the broad brush

argue all you want but the so-called agrieved black population irritates the hell out of me

their bogus miscontent is being rivaled by th Muslims though

never in the annals of recent history have certain people given so little, but cost so much

Sonosam on July 29, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Where do I send money for a defense fund?

hawkdriver on July 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Cody1991 on July 29, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Good point

DSchoen on July 29, 2010 at 7:27 PM

“He used my own words! I’ll sue!!!” Sherrod did say she didn’t use her full abilities to help that farmer.

ddrintn on July 29, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Oh, to see the list of ALL THE PEOPLE who will have to give depositions!! I don’t think there is enough room under Obama’s bus!!

Khun Joe on July 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Including the Obama Administration who said “The White House wants you to resign because you’re going to be on Glenn Beck”. Pass the popcorn!

TN Mom on July 29, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Let’s be frank, the woman is not very smart.

She’s being manipulated by her liberal friends.

People forget, Sherrod did tell her “story of redemption” with racist overtones. A good lawyer could dissect this and point it out in detail.

Breitbart will have a great counter suit. Sherrod did call him a racist with no proof.

She should be suing Obama if anyone really believes she was innocent. After all, his administration forced her to resign.

scotash on July 30, 2010 at 12:08 AM

She is either getting bad advice, or she is an idiot. There is no case in this against Breitbart. He posted a video of the woman opening her mouth and letting all that BS slide right out of there. Breitbart didn’t make her do that. He just had an opinion about her speech and the audience’s reaction.

This woman has become an irritant much like a fungus under a toenail. She should have cut her best deal with the USDA while she had the chance instead of trying to become a liberal media darling. She ain’t got what it takes and her own words will eventually be her undoing.

Fox suing her would be much, much more interesting…..

joedoe on July 30, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Now, she probably does have a case against the government for wrongful dismissal, hostile work environment, yada, yada, yada. Of course, she better not have any skeletons in that closet either.

Does anyone else get the feeling that her superiors probably had the immediate thought that “Shirley is at it again” when they rushed to force the resignation? If she had friends at the USDA that knew her well, wouldn’t they have come forward immediately and spoke up for the woman? I mean, there was like no hesitation to drop the hammer on this woman and in a hurry. Yeah, some history in this one I betcha.

joedoe on July 30, 2010 at 8:30 AM

So you’re saying that if someone views the world through a prism of race, then that means they are a racist?
Tom_Shipley on July 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM

I don’t know the comments leading up to this question of yours, but framed this way alone, I am amazed you actually had to ask it.
Pitiful.

Badger40 on July 30, 2010 at 9:56 AM

Typical litigious person.

Dorvillian on July 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Where do I send money for a defense fund?

hawkdriver on July 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM

You read my mind! I’ve looked over Breitbart.com and haven’t found any such address, at least not yet.

Mary in LA on July 30, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Sorry if this has already been posted.

Will she be getting “one of her own” to be her lawyer?

TugboatPhil on July 30, 2010 at 6:29 PM

This should be good.

CWforFreedom on July 30, 2010 at 8:23 PM

She said she doesn’t want an apology from Breitbart for posting the video that took her comments out of context, but told a crowd at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention that she would “definitely sue.”

And she announces it to a racist group. Who woulda thunk?/

CWforFreedom on July 30, 2010 at 8:24 PM

She may win this one. Defamation is tricky, but he can’t prove he was trying to only attack the NAACP, and his argument is weak at best.

I’ve seen weaker cases win.

AnninCA on July 30, 2010 at 9:18 PM

Typical litigious person.

Dorvillian on July 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM

If this stunt doesn’t get you a lawsuit, then I don’t know what would.

He bought and paid for this one. And he should seriously cough up some bucks in return, too.

It was despicable.

AnninCA on July 30, 2010 at 9:26 PM

Annin you are ignorant…..

Quote from the video AB released

-Shirley Sherrod said

“I opened my eyes. I realized it wasn’t about black and white. It was, but it was about other things, about poverty.”

She has no case against him….you are an idiot.

CWforFreedom on July 30, 2010 at 10:17 PM

The Three Stooges from ACORN (Bertha Lewis and the two pro-underage prostitute enablers from Baltimore) are still waiting for their $7,000,000.00 payout from Breitbart.

Hey Shirley! Get in line! We be here firstus!

BigAlSouth on July 31, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Are the racists Shirley Sherrod and her husband fired from their jobs yet?

Inanemergencydial on July 31, 2010 at 2:25 PM

It`s all about da money. Show me da money!! Show me damoney!!

Sherrod is a racist. Her husband is a racist.

Breitbart should be suing her.

Jeese, after all she is getting all the help she needs from her “own kind.” Sherrod`s words not mine.

Guess I am a racist for disliking plain dishonest folks no matter what their color.

They sure do want to get Whitey if not Shorty!

Sherman1864 on July 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM

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