Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she plans to sue Andrew Breitbart, the conservative media activist who posted a misleadingly edited video that made her appear racist. Breitbart has said Sherrod wasn't his target — rather, he was seeking to expose members of the NAACP who attack the Tea Party for racism yet and applauded Sherrod when she talked about withholding aid from a white farmer. Sherrod said Breitbart "had to know he was targeting me." Will she be able to prove that in court? (Watch Shirley Sherrod's announcement)
Sherrod's lawsuit won't go anywhere: It will be "darned near impossible" for Shirley Sherrod to win, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. She was a public official, so even if Breitbart had been criticizing her, and not the NAACP, he was free to do so "in harsh and even unfair terms." And if she proved Breitbart acted with excessive "malice," Breitbart could counter-sue under the same terms, now that she's publicly and ridiculously accusing him of being "pro-slavery."
"Sherrod says she will sue Andrew Breitbart"
Of course Sherrod has a case: Andrew Breitbart did more than just "smear" Shirley Sherrod's reputation, says Libby Spencer at The Impolitic, so defamation isn't the only thing she can sue him for. She lost her job as a direct result of what, in the words of one employment lawyer, was a "fraudulent attack." In short he caused her real, measurable harm. "Whatever the chances of success, I hope she goes through with it."
"Sherrod to sue Breitbart"
Sherrod wins just by dragging Breitbart into court: Shirley Sherrod might not win the case, says Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. "But after working on two newspapers that were sued from time to time it is worth noting" that this case will "instill a bit of caution" in the TV networks, newspapers, and websites that publicized Breitbart's clip, and make them more likely to do a little fact-checking next time. And even if Sherrod loses, she'll force Breitbart to defend his actions in court, and that's something.
"Shirley Sherrod will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- The simple trick to making better decisions in every aspect of life
- The U.S. government is actually trouncing Ebola. When will it get credit?
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 5 baffling foreign-language versions of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song
- Why America needs more billionaires
- Why 2014 may be as good as it gets for the Republican Party
Subscribe to the Week