BREAKING: Shirley Sherrod Plans To Sue Andrew Breitbart For Defamation

That loud PLOP you just heard was Andrew Breitbart crapping a brick at this news: Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod says s

That loud PLOP you just heard was Andrew Breitbart crapping a brick at this news:

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

Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention.

This is long overdue; frankly, I always felt that both Van Jones and ACORN officials should have sued Fox and/or Breitbart after they were smeared, just so that they will think twice before smearing other people in the future. So Sherrod will be carrying the burden forward for many of us on the progressive left who have been victimized by these crooks and liars.

Attoney Michael Yaki at City Brights thinks so too:

Defamation law clearly puts Breitbart in a tough position. He deliberately aired a video that was edited in a way to put Sherrod in a very bad light. Breitbart even said on Fox News that the purpose of the tape was to show that racism existed in the NAACP, even though the speech Sherrod gave was precisely the opposite -- it was about overcoming prejudice and stereotypes. Before the tape, Sherrod was not a public figure for whom a higher legal threshold of "actual malice" would be required, though in this case it would be hard to say that malice or a reckless disregard to the truth wasn't present.

Fox, by way of offering Breitbart a forum, may be similarly at risk. Under the "republication" doctrine, Fox may be as liable as Breitbart for recklessly running (and rerunning) the doctored footage.

There is no excuse for those liberals who so quickly threw Sherrod under the bus without the benefit of hearing her side of the story. But while inexcusable, the fact remains that but for Andrew Breitbart, who deliberately manufactured this story and dressed it up with racist overtones, people today would have no idea who Shirley Sherrod is or what she does. And she'd still be at her old job.

Sometimes in the law you get the perfect test case. Shirley Sherrod's high tech railroading by Breitbart offers an unprecedented opportunity to make an example of the right wing's repeated distortion and discoloration of the facts. At the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights I've watched my right-wing colleagues and their media friends misrepresent and inflame the paltry facts that constitute the New Black Panther Party investigation. But while my conservative colleagues flail around like psychotic berserkers in the Panther proceedings, they have yet to cause collateral damage to anything but the truth. That is not the case with Ms. Sherrod, who suffered public vilification, private harassment and humiliation, and who was pressured to leave her job.

About David Neiwert

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.