Opinion Brief

Will Shirley Sherrod be Andrew Breitbart's downfall?

Commentators wonder whether the conservative media giant will survive this latest dust-up with his reputation intact

Ousted USDA official Shirley Sherrod received a round of high-profile apologies Wednesday — the White House, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the NAACP — but not from conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart, who posted the heavily edited video that thrust her into the national spotlight. The Week's David Frum says Breibart should apologize, but won't, and will "survive" the incident "undamaged." But when even mainline conservatives think he went too far, can he recover? (Watch Breitbart admit he "feels bad" for Sherrod)

This "galling" hit job cost Breitbart his media whip: Breitbart's "Barnum's instinct" for directing the "media circus" rivals that of his old boss, Matt Drudge, says Joshua Green in The Atlantic. But Breitbart's race-baiting is "much darker" than Drudge's sex scandals. And after the "moral ugliness" of his Sherrod takedown, I just don't "see how the media can justify continuing to treat Breitbart as simply a roguish provocateur.""The Breitbart Circus"

It isn't over for Breitbart, or Sherrod: Breitbart deserves blame, but Sherrod still espouses some "disturbing" racial views in the unedited video, even if she held them 24 years ago, says law professor Jonathan Turley in his blog. That said, if she sues him for defamation — and she'd have a case — Breitbart could find the tables turned when the trial unearths "internal emails and communications on the purpose of the editing and release of the video.""Can Sherrod sue over edited NAACP tape?"

Breitbart is still winning: "Perhaps Breitbart will get served, and perhaps he’ll have to pay some damages," says Tom Mendelsohn in The Independent. But he's a wealthy man, and he'll "suck it up and keep sounding off" — as will the rest of the "conservative hate machine." And why not? "Even his failed rumours are doing real damage to the Obama administration.""Has the U.S. right-wing media finally gone too far?"

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