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. Frank

    Sherrod = dedicated public servant = good .. Breitbart = vicious self promoter = evil. Choose thou whom you will serve! ....................'nuff said.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Spartacus

    I already blasted him on his web site when this happened but my anger for this guy is never going to go away...imagine if he had some integrity...imagine if he was a decscent human being, to tell ya the thruth, I am ashamed to be white with people like this donkey running around free. The Crime he committed knowingly should be IMO punisheable by EXECUTION! – He attempted to and nearly completely ruined an honest human beings' liveliehood. I say...EXECUTION for that. Make it Permanent Law so noone does this again. IT'S FRIKKING DISGUSTING PEOPLE !!!

    July 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KevinBob

    She should get over her grudge against white people. This women's father got murdered by a white man many years ago and she has held a grudge on this for decades. Holding a grudge is destructive to anyone's life and this women is no exception.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Easy for you to tell someone to " get over it." You want her to get over her father being killed, but you can't even get over the fact that she is suing. Try taking your own advice.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • cdubs1169

      You obviously did not watch the entire video. Her whole speech is about her realization that is was not black vs. white, it was poor vs. rich.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sanjay Gupta

    Bravo! Does this mean fox news has come to an end?

    July 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JF

    What is the grounds of her suit? It is not slander, libel or defamation of character. It is her own words.

    The poster made the edits and posted those excerpts. It was all those who picked up that posting and acted upon it who could be sued. Was what the blogger did wrong, absolutely. Illegal and sueable, no.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus in Greensboro, NC

      He posted a portion of her words to make her sound racist. He edited the video. When you cut out the other 42 minutes of a speech, clearly you used it maliciously. He can say he targeted the NAACP, but they were not the ones giving the speech. She did not work for them when she made the speech. So, in effect, he targeted her because she was the one giving the speech.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eric in TX

    I'd like to know exactly what grounds she thinks she has in suing the reporter. He posted a video that was legally obtained and shot, and did not have any direct involvement in the actions taken by her employers. If anything, her employers are responsible for any injustices for not getting all the information before asking her to resign.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Please stay in Texas. Balbreit went on to say that the crowd was cheering and applauding her racial statements- which was also proven to be a lie. This shows what his intent was. he defamed her character by stating she was a racist and tried to use the video in an attempt to retaliate. What part of this issue do you not comprehend?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      Do yourself a favor: Google "false light."

      July 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Mr. Breitbart is not a reporter, he's a blogger, making statements to the public. He's already said he used the tape to show racism in the NAACP (wow, what a surprise) and that he wasn't focusing on Sherrod. The problem is that he publicly displayed a portion of what she said (e.g. insufficient context) to attempt to illustrate a point that he probably could not have other wise made. His actions caused her harm, and while he may have First Amendment rights to express his opinion, he is still responsible for the consequences of that action.

      July 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    Jim, regardless of who the target was, Breitbart felt it was permissible to take a good person's words grossly out of context and ruin her life in the name of scoring cheap political points. That is a travesty. And those of you who are defending such actions are beneath contempt. Would you be so accepting of such actions if you were the target of a left-wing blogger who treated your life as collateral damage?

    July 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Leeeron Jerome

    Sherrod made her remarks during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego. Uhhhhhhhh if she wasn't "racist" why is speaking at a organization that is racist? That is the association for ONLY black journalists??? hmmmmmm weird how there can be ONLY BLACK organizations yet as soon someone wants to start and all "white" organization its racist. DOUBLE STANDARD not EQUAL

    July 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victorious

      Um, honey NABJ is not racist. Nobody sits at the convention slandering white folks are blaming the "man." Plus, there is definitely an NAHJ and an AAJA for both Hispanic and Asian journalists in the country. They're made to provide support and opportunities for people of color by those who have been lucky enough to make it in journalism, because people of color in the business are few.
      P.S., Sherrod's not a racist either. Although she thought about not helping the farmer and his family, she realized it was wrong and went out of her way to provide them with the support they needed. She realized her fault and fixed it, which is what a lot of people in this country need to be doing. And I think it's very big of her, especially since her father was killed by a white farmer when she was young. I know the kind of anger incidents like that can breed, and it's great to see she decided to move forward.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Itissimple

      Uh, I take it you haven't live in the US all your life....LOL?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TerryH

    Sounds like a Tea Party thing. Always trying to kill anything not them.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joel

    Ms. Sherrod has outclassed everybody associated with this mess...including the President. What a proud, gracious and classy lady! I'm not typically in favor of knee-jerk lawsuits, but in this case, Blightheart or whatever his name is ought to be sued for defamation. That kind of character assassination "reporting" needs to be stopped. It does nothing to advance dialogue and respectful debate of the issues.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChiroBob

      "Blightheart" very insightful and clever – gets right at the cultural dimension of the man.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Arthur

    Yes, definitely sue this guy. People on the blog has done so many damage to other people without paying consequence. We have to let people to face up what they say on web must be true and totally truth.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wilddawg

    'Took them to one of their kind'. Black this... white that. She may not be the villain she originally was made out to be but she sure as heck is no hero.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guest

    Good for her!

    July 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael

    "I hope Breitbart and his lies go down in flames"

    What lies?

    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      The lies that this woman was a racist and when she said her racist things the crowd cheered. The lies in the ACORN videos like the scrawny kid showed up as pimp when he didn't and they heavily edited the ACORN videos. Any other questions?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    I'm a liberal and I don't think she can sue, 1st amendment freedom of speech is on the blogger's side. P.S. The blogger didn't fire her.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      This isn't a freedom of speech issue, this is slander and defamation of character. Completely different.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Defamation of Character in what way, it was her own words that defamed her character. If her words were taken out of context by her superiors and Fox News and the blogger, that isn't their fault, it's hers. She said the words that put her in trouble, the blogger didn't dub in someone saying words she didn't say.

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