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July 29, 2010

Report: Sherrod To Sue Breitbart

No, her 15 minutes aren't up.

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.

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

A couple of thoughts...

I'd love to see video of this. Did the assembled journalists applaud or react negatively to the idea of suing someone for trafficking in news?

As for the suit itself (all the usual qualifiers...I'm not a lawyer, add salt to suit your taste), she's likely got no chance. As a political appointee she's clearly a public figure so the standard for defamation is pretty high and damn near unreachable in this country.

(Added: I'm assuming it's defamation. As Gabe emailed to me, we don't know the cause of action yet so keep that in mind going through this.)

She'd have to prove that Breitbart maliciously went after her with a report he knew to be false or acted with a reckless disregard for the truth. Again, that's an almost insurmountable bar for her to prove against him.

Where I think she might have a better, though still tough, case is against the person who did the edit and sent it to Breitbart. It might be possible to make a case that the story was taken so out of context and the text setting it up was so erroneous and misleading that it constituted a reckless disregard for the truth.

Of course, Sherrod isn't suing who ever that is because there's no publicity in that.

If she were serious about this, wouldn't she also be suing the Department of Agriculture for forcing her to resign? The problem there is she was a political appointee and therefore getting rid of those is only actionable if a Republican does it. And even then, not really.

On one level this will suck for Breitbart. It's going to cost time, money and effort.

On another level...jackpot!

Breitbart is on a mission to bring attention to this and to other acts of maleficence by Obama and the left. Sherrod is doing her part to ensure that he keeps getting booked on cable shows and talked about on both sides of the political divide. (Just to be clear, that's not a shot at him. Far from it. If you are fighting a battle for public opinion and support you need to have the public paying attention to you.)

My guess is he's salivating at the chance to get her under oath during a deposition.

Thanks to John Noonan for the heads up on the story.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:14 PM

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