July 29th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

Sherrod to sue blogger who released video clip

Former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart - the man responsible for posting an edited video clip of Sherrod appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance.

"I will definitely do it," she said when asked whether she was considering legal action. Sherrod made her remarks during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego.

Breitbart "had to know that he was targeting me," Sherrod said. "At this point, he hasn't apologized. I don't want it at this point, and he'll definitely hear from me."

The controversy surrounding the clip led to a rush to judgment and Sherrod's forced resignation. However, it was later determined that her speech, unedited, focused on how the incident changed her outlook and made her realize people should move beyond race. The incident occurred 24 years ago, before Sherrod began working for the USDA.

She received an official apology from the USDA and a phone call from President Barack Obama once the full text of her remarks came to light.

Sherrod has since been offered another position at the Agriculture Department.

Obama said earlier Thursday that Sherrod "deserves better than what happened last week." Speaking at a National Urban League conference in Washington, Obama called the claim of racism against her "bogus."

"Many are to blame" for the reaction that followed, he said, "including my own administration."

Her whole story, Obama said he told Sherrod, "is exactly the kind of story we need to hear in America (because) we all have our biases."

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Filed under: Civil Rights
soundoff (420 Responses)
  1. eyeswideshut

    Hooray for you!!! Sue the pants off him. It was intentional and malicious. I dont care who says it wasnt edited, it was a piece taken from a video..with intention of making it look like racial discrimination on her part. This country is so sensitive to racial issues that we stick our heads under the sand and pretend it is not still an ongoing problem. It isnt one race doing it over another..it is American people as a whole. This should have never happened and the NAACP should have known better than to jump on a bandwagon...from experience they should have researched the situation before commenting. What happened to this lady..who has devoted her life to helping people that are in financial distress...was unexcusable...and if this lawsuit is the first of many that puts responsible journalism back in place then ..I'm all for it. Everything should not be a political plot.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Peach

    It's all very sad. The signs in Arizona regarding the possible new immigration law that says "STOP HATE"... it scares me just how much hate there is in the world!!! What happen to the word COMPASSION? Did someone, some party, some TV station eliminate the word, concept of COMPASSION?

    Have any of you who are so judgmental of Sherrod for a moment thought if this has been you? How you would have felt?

    STOP HATE PLEASE, SHOW COMPASSION FOR OTHERS!

    say what you want but you know it's true that the world is full of so much hate

    August 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. senca

    she is a fat racist pig.. how could she not help someone losing there farm ? this sickens me ..I hope she gets stuffed with a corn cob..

    August 3, 2010 at 6:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. senca

    black history is an excuse ..to be racist..

    August 3, 2010 at 6:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John Doe

    I am so happy to hear that she will pursue legal action to hold this clown accountable for his actions. Shirley, my heart and prayers are with you.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BDT

    She won't file. Discovery.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Steve

    I don't see that he did anything wrong; he actually did this country a service. He showed us how those in power are inept, don't go about their jobs with the integrity and diligence that they should. Realistically that video could have been completely fabricated – words dubbed in who knows, they obviously took it at face value with little or no interest in investigating it. If those responsible for actually forcing her to resign had done their job the US wouldn't know Sharrod's name. What if that clip were all that existed of Sherrods' speech? All we get from the Obama Administration is that they "had nothing to do" with the USDA's decision of forcing her to leave, and from the NAACP – "it was a 1 am decision – so don't blame us".
    Do you think she'd have gotten her job back, what if the farmer she helped was dead or didn't want to speak up for her? Do you think Obama would be apologizing to her, the NAACP, the USDA offering her and "even better job"?
    Personally I think she ought to cut Andrew in on all the extra cash she's making now that she's famous, she wouldn't be there without him.

    August 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Kat Nanton

    I think Sherrod may regret the day because it's bound to expose some very dirty laundry hiding in her closet!
    http://www.counterpunch.org/wilkins08022010.html

    August 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kat Nanton

    She may just regret opening up a can of worms. Just read the article by Ron Wilkins–why doesn't CNN invite this guy?
    http://www.counterpunch.org/wilkins08022010.html

    August 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kat Nanton

    I am waiting with bated breath for CNN to invite Ron Wilkins to tell us the other side of the Shirley Sherrod story.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Zed

    She does have experience with lawsuits. I guess the new saying is "Those who can't sue".

    July 29, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Brian

    public officials can't sue the media, there are protections in place to prtect free speech. But all that is irrelevent since nothing illegal was done. The only illegal thing done was shirley holding back her full support because the farmer was white. I think shirley is going to get sued for racism. I listened to the whole speech, and she said a lot racist things, and when she did, the audience of black people loved it. Racism is alive an well in the black community.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Cliff Vegas

    Anybody who says "public officials can't sue" – READ THE LAW. Slander is slander. Breithart released a video with the intent to do harm to the Obama Admin, but wound up killing this woman's career at USDA. She may recover, now that people know the truth, but that does not in any way obfuscate the original damage to her credibility and the anguish he caused her personally. I'd say that Fox is in her target as well – and were I asked – I'd love to represent her in a court of law and make Breithard and Fox producers squirm.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Brian

    I can't wait till this backfires on her. It's going to get laughed out of court.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Michaelk

    Free speech is no protection against libel or slander. Never has been.
    Successfully suing for slander or libel is most difficult for public officials. They have to show an intentional disregard for the truth. If you purport to be a journalist and release a story from an independent third party and do no research to validate the story and have a history of saying that you will 'get' the target of the story, then you have a successful suit.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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