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. BamaGrandma

    Good for her, about time someone demanded responsibility from these story fabricating, reich wing psuedo journalists.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LOLBlogs

    It is called SLANDER ladies and gentlemen. If someone divulges information about you that is untrue, that leads to the loss of job, status, and / or income, the person responsible can be sued for LIBEL. It's that simple. People must not know too much of anything nowadays, to say she has no reason to sue him.

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

      A minor point, but libel and slander are two different things. Slander is merely spoken defamation, while libel is published defamation. The penalties for libel are much more severe than they are for slander.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      So is it Slander or is it Libel now? Let me help you out with the blanket term 'Defamation'. My question for you is what are the false facts about her that he claimed to be true? And it has to be a fact not an opinion.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      You said it right in your comment knuckle head! It has to be a LIE!!!!! This is a video of her giving a speach! Where is the lie?

      July 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Louise

    Good for Shirley. Maybe the Teabaggers will be more careful the next time.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. George

    Funny how the left wing nut jobs are saying that this blogger was wrong for giving misinformation and should be sued. HMMM... Obama and this administration, along with politicians from both sides, have been lying to us forever. Currently Obama and his administration have forced laws and regulations down our throats without even reading the bills. He promised clear and accountable government but he's already broken how many promises? Health Care and Financial Reforms are a joke and full of other things that are not even related. Obama has surrounded himself with Socialist and Marxist people, by their own admission, and we are being pushed towards that cliff kicking and screaming, but they keep going against what We the People want. Why did Pres Obama make his birth certificate not viewable under the Freedom of Information Act? Here's a hint if it came out that he isn't a natural born citizen he would be out of office.
    As far as this article, lawsuit, and those posting here to support her, how many times have the left wing bias media took things out of context to fit their views? She has no real lawsuit here, but the left wing liberal nut jobs of lawyers and judges will give her money etc just because she's black and cries racism. She should sue the people who fired her without getting the facts, but since she worked for the governement she can't so she'll sue the blogger and say Fox News was responsible. Please Fox News didn't even play it until after she was fired. Glenn Beck even defended her when she got fired saying that she should not have been fired and was one of the first ones to show the full context.

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

      Is this a joke, or has George eating paint chips again? Who let him near a keyboard?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaffingMyAddOff

      I am a left wing liberal nut job

      GEORGE....you are completely off your nut.
      I want to see YOUR birth certificate i think youve been hatched.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. morris diehl

    I think Shirley should just settle this whole thing with castrating all right wing cowards out there. You can start with Murdoch and work your way up.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MAF

    I think Andrew Breitbart should be held accountable for his statements. I’m not an attorney but the following seems to fit what he did.
    Thank you to Media Law Resource Center for the following:
    http://www.medialaw.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Public_Resources/Libel_FAQs/Libel_FAQs.htm#What%20is%20Libel?
    What is Libel?
    Libel and slander are legal claims for false statements of fact about a person that are printed, broadcast, spoken or otherwise communicated to others. Libel generally refers to statements or visual depictions in written or other permanent form, while slander refers to verbal statements and gestures. The term defamation is often used to encompass both libel and slander.
    In order for the person about whom a statement is made to recover for libel, the false statement must be defamatory, meaning that it actually harms the reputation of the other person, as opposed to being merely insulting or offensive

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

      Hey MAF what was the eigth word in your post? Yeah dummy "false"!!! It's a video of her how is that false? she made the statement she was the one speaking, not sure what part of false you are finding there!!! Amazing you can look something up and still not understand what you read!!

      July 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickofit

      How did Andrew make a FALSE statement according to you. He aired a video of her speaking her own words. Would you have watched the entire video for an hour just to get the context of what she was saying, no. News organizations and bloggers often put bits of videos out there to make a point, that doesn't make the statements on those videos false. It is up to us as individuals to research and gather all of the facts before making snap judgements, something this administration cannot do, just look at the case with the Cambridge Police department and other such instances where Obama and his cronnies were quick to make snap judgements. Oh the Arizonia immigration law is racist, "have you read the bill, it's ten pages", "uh no."

      July 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tony

    Good for her. People should be held accountable for their lies and half truths. This jerk cost this woman her job and over what? Some headlines? I hope she wins big, and I'm with her when she says she isn't interested in hearing a word these people have to say in the way of an apology. What they did was deliberate and well thought out. Their intention was clear. To mislead people. Any apology would just be an empty gesture.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Midwest

    I was shocked by her comments (she SHOULD have altered her choice of words..."his kind..." before speaking) but Breitbart's conduct is nothing short of Nazi propaganda.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Colorado

    If he is at fault for posting something that was already in the public domain than she should sue the USDA for using it to force her resignation as well as the NAACP, which had the full video, didn't review it, and also called for her to resign. If one than all. Don't just hold the blogger accountable you got to hold them all.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MAT

    What a joke. Maybe someone will send her to a lawyer, you know, ONE OF HER OWN KIND to get help. They are her words. She is a racisty, and even more so now that she has been defended for being a bigot.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. paul

    He didn't create or edit the video, he just posted it. How is that wrong? The true journalists should have checked their facts and the Dept. of Agriculture and White House should have looked into things before firing her. Brietbart is not responsible here. There is misinformation all over the internet these days and it is our fault if we don't do a good enough job of checking our sources. Every blogger out there could be sued for something. This is political and nothing more.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      He took a small part of it out of context to change the meaning of what she said. That kind of misrepresentation when it leads to defamation can be construed as libel.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    Free speech doesn't protect someone from committing libel (this would be considered libel and not slander because the video snippet was published on the web). Public figures (not public "officials" can still be libeled btw, it's just that the hurdles they have to clear are a bit higher. I'm not sure Sherrod could be considered a "public figure" until after all this happened, so she probably wouldn't have to meet that standard anyway.

    And for those of you who think that just because the blogger showed something she actually said he's safe from libel, that's not true. Taking something as far out of context as he appears to have done with negates that. It will be interesting to see how this plays out from the standpoint of a blogger being sued for libel. But he should be worried.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ljiggle

    The problem w/ conservatives is that they don't why they're a conservative. Grab a dictionary or take a poli sci course and you'll notice that a conservative political outlook indicates the conservation of the staus quo and not changing things. Most can agree that country is screwed up. So, if the country's current political climate isn't working, why not change it? People post on this story about it's the liberals that are ruining this country, blah, blah, need to take a good hard look at how this country, and most specifically it's economy has completely gone down the toilet. The current president's policies haven't been enacted to take a fiscal toll on America. Last I checked, we had a surplus in 2000 and an astronomical deficit in 2008. Wonder who's fiscal policies were implemented in that time. And to those that say this woman's lawsuit is another example of how the liberals are trying to bad mouth conservatives – newsflash....you did it to yourselves....

    July 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Askgees

    She's not too bright. The video was in the public prior to him posting it. She clearly had racist views but as with most people change as we age. The video was not posted to out her. It was posted to show the racism with in the NAACP note the laughs and cheers from the crowd. The video released by the news media contained a warning/disclaimer stating that this was an excerpt of the video. However I do believe this guy is smarter than she is and will now post the dozens of videos from Sherrod and her husband spouting the racism loud and clear. I now call for the offer to re-hire her A RACIST be with drawn.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    From what I can tell this was the best thing that ever happened to miss shirley.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
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