15 minutes of fame extended: Shirley Sherrod to sue Andrew Breitbart


Former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod announced Thursday that she intends to sue Andrew Breitbart for posting a misleading video of Sherrod that ended up costing her job.

Sherrod made the announcement at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in San Diego. “I will definitely do it,” she said.

Sherrod lost her job last week after Breitbart posted a clip of a video on one of his conservative sites that appeared to show Sherrod telling an NAACP conference that she did not lend her “full force” in helping a white farmer.

The full video, though, showed Sherrod had actually been speaking about how she had gotten over the racially motivated killing of her father after helping the first white farmer who had solicited her aid.

Before the full video came out, however, Sherrod was fired by the Department of Agriculture over what it thought was a racist remark.

Sherrod has been offered a new job with the department, and the White House has apologized to her, but Sherrod has not yet indicated whether she will take the job.

She’s probably waiting to find out how much she can try and shake down Andrew Breitbart for before she makes a decision on the USDA job offer. Perhaps she’s getting advice from noted master shakedown artists like “civil rights activists” and Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. Sounds like Media Research Center Brent Bozell is thinking along the same lines:

“Andrew Breitbart is going to be fine. He’s done nothing wrong,” said Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center. “I wonder if Ms. Sherrod, who is such a champion of transparency, will publicly disclose who is putting her up to this. And I also hope this champion of honesty will stop lying about Fox News. I’m also waiting for Ms. Sherrod to publicly apologize for accusing anyone opposed to nationalized health care of being racist. Last time I checked, that was more than half the country.”

Bill Jacobson is wondering for what she will exactly sue him:

Defamation? For what, showing a two-minute clip of her speech, and not showing the rest of the speech (which Breitbart apparently did not have a copy of)? For calling her comments “racist” when she admitted in the speech, at a minimum, to formerly being a racist?

Interference with her employment? When she resigned and turned down the job when she was offered it after her resignation?

For portraying her in a false light? Really? I’d like to see the movie of her real light.

The legal issues — was she a public figure? — may not take this case past a motion to dismiss at the start of the case.

But, let’s say the lawsuit does get off the ground, and moves forward into discovery.

Will Sherrod assert that her reputation has been damaged? By claiming reputational harm, Sherrod opens up almost her entire life to scrutiny, which is why so many people are hesitant to assert a defamation claim.

Will Sherrod assert the loss of her job as damages? This would permit Breitbart to take depositions up the chain of command, from the person who made the infamous “pull over to the side of the road” phone call, to Tom Vilsack, to the people in the White House.

One thing’s for sure: Shirley Sherrod, racist though she may be, is not stupid and knows how to play her cards (including the race card, of course). I hope Breitbart’s got excellent attorneys.

Speaking of, if you’d like to help him with legal expenses, click here. He had to start a defense fund in light of the ACORN drama, but now I suspect he’ll use that money for Sherrod’s attempt at a 16th minute of fame.

Two questions remain: Will our “Healer in Chief” suggest another Beer Summit to smooth things over? And if he does, just how many of you plan on holding a “Beer Summit” of your own in your house to try and forget about both “summits”? :-\

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