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. Michael

    Can someone explain to us WHY she named her daughter & son after a known communist and a communist country?

    July 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. weptiger

    She may file suit, but will not prevail.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kindbud

    Good for her. I find it troubling Fox News and right wing supporters are attempting to blame the White House when they were up in arms, outraged and screaming that something be done when Ms. Sherrod still had her job immediately following the initial video release. Everything they're blaming on the White House as well as the head of the Dept of Agriculture started from THEIR outrage. Only to find out Breitbart intentionally edited the clip to portray Ms. Sherrod as a racist. How long will Fox News and the Right Wing base of our country continue to tell half truths, lies, and propaganda just to oppose everything the Left attempts? How long are they going to be able to get away with being a major News Network that is the basis of political sensationalism? Its sickening. For that i am glad Ms. Sherrod is suing Breitbart, hopefully Fox News, Bill O Reilly, and Shaun Hannity are found liable as well for re-airing the video that misled the country.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • aprincess

      Hey Kindbod, Fox news never played the video until after the White House asked her to resign and the Department of Agriculture fired her. They also played the tape that the White House and the DOA based their rush to judgement on get your facts straight.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • clr

      Hey idiot – Fox never played the video until after the sue happy woman was fired by the whitehouse. I guess Fox should sue you now for slander too?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      Your words show how commenting on something you haven't yourself seen make you look ignorant. IF you had watched Fox news the day the story came out (as I did) you would have seen that EVERY show made mention of how the clip was not aired in it's entirety and they showed the actual speech Sherrod had given. They were chastising everyone else for not looking at the entire clip and they were defending Sherrod. It is comments like yours that make left wingers like yourself look like imbecils instead of people who collect the facts and then comment on them (just like our White House and administration apparently)

      July 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kindbud

      There was a time line of events from when Breitbart first played it i read from a news article. It specifically stated that Bill O Reilly i believe had played it followed by Shaun Hannity an hour later, both have shows on Fox mind you, and this was before the White House asked her to resign. Bill O Reilly apologized, although i am unsure of Hannity apologizing. Why else would he/they have apologized if they were only criticizing the White House's rush to judgement? Either way the hooplah, the OUTRAGE so to speak came from a lot of you right wing Fox news conspiracy theorists, liberal naysayers, so don't try and turn it around. Thats all you people do EVERY DAY on EVERY issue is naysay, propaganda, misportray, and deceive. It is laughable to me how you try and turn it around on the White House when they were reacting based on YOUR outrage. Don't tell me the White House reads Breitbart's blog and rushed to judgement before the outrage based on the clip, since thats NOT how it happened. It was the initial outrage that made them act hastily, but as usual everything becomes twisted and distorted once the right wing gets to it.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickofit

      Wow Kinbud calm yourself, see liberals get all bent out of shape when they are wrong, just admit you made a mistake and that your beloved President (by liberals of course) also made ANOTHER mistake. See I can yell too!

      July 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. svscnn

    His chickens will soon be returning home to roost.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    David, it doesn't matter how you "feel" about a person. The question is whether or not there is civil liability for his actions. From what I've seen, there is not. The left spins this thing one way and the right will spin it another. The truth is, it's all politics and all the mean-spirited personal judgements by some do not change the facts. The lawsuit will not go anywhere. Now, she might have a case against the Government and the NAACP. Fox News isn't a good target either.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ricardo

    Yeah, Sherrod, but you still said what you said and did what you did. Only in this country could you be racist but then 'change your view' and not be held responsible for your original actions. You may not 'act' racist now, but you sure did back then. But I guess it's time for you to line up at the liberal money-trough because YOU feel slighted...

    July 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LGG

    Some very funny comments! "How much will this suit cost taxpayers", "another example of liberals taking away free speech", "Brietbart posted a video"!

    We shall have to wait for the evidence (should there be a trial), but if Mr. Brietbart knowingly edited a videotape so as to portray Ms. Sherrod as racist, whereas he knew that her speech was the complete opposite, then I do think she may be able to make a case of actual malice against him.

    I doubt she has a case against Fox News, if they simply replayed the video without knowledge that it had been tampered with.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • clr

      there is no law that identifies that you have to post the entirety of someone's speech. As long as you do not splice it in pieces to make someone say something they really did not say – then you are fine with what is posted.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carmen

    I'm glad she is suing and hope that she wins. There are too many opinion blogs (left and right) that have gone beyond opinion, and have turned into attack blogs – some without being factual. The blogosphere has gotten out of hand, and a suit of this nature, assuming she wins, hopefully will instill some responsibility and credibility in future blogs.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    Every word she spoke was hers. Every word Breitbart wrote was true and accurate. This suit goes no where. She should be suing the racist NAACP and the racist Obama administration that forced her resignation without cause.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. clr

    geee- imagine that – she will sue. surprise surprise surprise... Sue for what? Damages? She has ended up better than before. For slander? She did say it.... there is nothing that says you have to post the entirety of someone's public speech. And I still say – the big point is being missed – all those naacp people in the audience were laughing when she said what she did in the clip... and THAT is the real point.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chip

    Yeah, go ahead and sue. Then we can find out where the video actually came from. There are three possible scenarios – 1) Breitbart was set up. Plain and simple. 2) Breitbart had the video and edited it to make Sherrod look bad. 3) Breitbart posted the video not knowing there was additional context (regardless, the NAACP crowd still looks like a bunch of racists as they laugh over Sherrod showing that white guy who was boss). In none of these three scenarios did Breitbart break the law or do anything meriting legal action. This has been one big bait and switch by the Obama Administration. Oh, and btw, they forced her to resign BEFORE Fox News ever ran anything about her. When Beck mentioned her, he STOOD UP FOR HER for goodness sake. You people and your Fox hating are hilarious (and ignorant).

    July 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Herc

    As much as I am opposed to the agenda and shady politics of Fox News and the blogger in question, I don't think this is the right path to take. While she was wrongly fired, it was more due to a knee jerk reaction to the blog and video, which was quite quickly rectified. I'm not saying that I like this kind of shady tactic of editing a video to push and agenda and message that was not there, but this is a slippery slope in protecting freedom of speech and expression, and she should probably just leave it alone and move on. Most people are on her side anyway.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica, Grand Rapids MI

      I like a lawsuit in this sutuation, because slander is slander...and thats exactly what he did. With an intent to harm an individual or possibly lots of individuals. It's not right, it's not acceptable, it's not free speech. People like this guy will continue to do things of this nature until they are stopped, and unfortunately the only thing to stop them is legal action or the threat of legal action.
      If people who pretend to be moral, actually had them, we wouldnt even be having this conversation.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      It was a specific offense against a specific person, and if he doesn't settle fast she's going to own his house and be driving his car home.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JennyTX

    Way to go! She should sue Fox News, too.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • aprincess

      Okay understand this you left wing nut job. FOX NEWS DID NOT AIR THE VIDEO OR SAY ANYTHING UNTIL AFTER SHE WAS FIRED! Yes they aired the video after she was fired the same one the White House and the Deparment of Agriculture got off the internet after the hoopla and used to FIRE HER. The blogger had nothing to do with it. You don't want people to hear your words fine do not be come a public figure or speak at public functions, but stop trying to blame a news organizations for your beloved President's rush to judgement. He could have watched the whole thing before making a decision, but didn't, think about that please. Just like all the other rush to judgements he has done, like "the Cambridge Police acted stupidly" Get the facts straight please.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kindbud

      Tell the FULL TRUTH for once in your lives. The WH did react hastily but that reaction was based on the outrage from every one of you SCREAMING that she was still employed. S. Hannity and Bill O Reilly both aired the edited video, fanning the flames of outrage, then later apologized. Both are Fox network shows mind you. Sure blame the WH for taking Fox Network programs seriously, and assuming they fact check their own video footages they get from right wing bloggers/networks. Yes we all know we shouldn't take Fox News seriously but i blame Fox news for that more than the WH. IF it were CNN i can't even imagine the right wing outcry blaming CNN for not double checking every piece of video footage they air. Its just ignorant to pretend the WH reads Breitbarts blog and it being solely based on that, more than his edited footage AND the outrage from many of you, which in turn led the WH astray...

      July 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickofit

      Kinbud FoxNews did not air the video or report on the story until after she was fired. Better do some fact checking first before you go off on a rant.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Justin

    I think she has a pretty good shot at winning. Breitbart has publicly and loudly proclaimed that he views accusations of racism as the most horrible (literally, the worst, according to Breitbart) charge you can level at a person (CPAC, 2010). He also admitted that "context is everything" in the same article he used to slander Sherrod. And the tape is altered. It contains captions and is looped, in order to convey a completely false impression of what Sherrod was talking about. Yet even though the tape is altered, if you view the tape outside of the fake context Breitbart fabricated, it's very unclear what's going on. Sherrod refers to a law that's been in effect since the 80s and says it just went into effect. She talked about "the first time" she was asked to help a white farmer – and so many white farmers come out of Georgia one was even President. Dhe says "the USDA sent him to me," meaning she was not, as Breitbart asserted, working for the USDA at the time. Finally the tape cuts her off mid-sentence. As a "journalist" Breitbart knew this tape had to have more "context" – which he believed was important. And of course Breitbart intended to cause her harm, at least economically. Of course he intended to bring pressure for her to be fired. In fact, after 2/3 of the article in which Breitbart slanders Sherrod he then begins to complain that federal employees cannot more easily be fired.
    I suspect the reason Breitbart didn't pull the article off his website to cover himself is that he's already talked to a lawyer and has decided that attempting to cover his tracks just provides more evidence that he knows what he did is actionable.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SueB

    She was at a "Black Journalist" convention? Is there a "White Journalist" convention somewhere?

    July 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      There are plenty of them, but they don't need to say "White."

      July 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • surfcity

      No, that would be racist 😉

      July 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
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