The chronically choleric Andrew Breitbart now sees himself as the aggrieved party in the Shirley Sherrod affair that he instigated. This pathetic attempt to curry sympathy is uncharacteristic of Breitbart who ordinarily blusters his way through criticism and fiercely attacks his critics. Why the change in behavior? Could he be worried about Sherrod's forthcoming lawsuit?
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This is what he told Newsweek:
Newsweek: Can you understand how this has been difficult for her to get caught up in that?
Breitbart: As difficult as it probably was for her, it's been difficult for me as well, especially to hear her hurl an accusation of racism at me, when my motivation is absolutely pure and is driven by a desire for this country to move beyond its horrid racist past.
Was his motivation "absolutely pure" when he posted a deceptively edited video and portrayed Sherrod as a racist? Breitbart also admitted to Newsweek that the video took Sherrod out of context, and given two separate opportunities to apologize, Breitbart declined and made excuses instead. That didn't stop him from expressing his desire to meet with Sherrod in private. If she takes him up on that she had better go wired for sound and video. I bet she could get some juicy clips.
It's interesting that Sherrod's announcement the she intends to sue Breitbart has not been reported as a news item on Fox News, so far as I have been able to determine (if someone has evidence of such a report, please pass it along). But what Fox may be trying to sweep under the rug, the Wall Street Journal has taken on in the form of a defensive editorial by the editor of their online op-ed pages, James Taranto.
Taranto begins by surmising that Sherrod's lawsuit would probably fail. His reasoning centered on his assertion that she was a public official and involved claims about the performance of her public duties. Sherrod was indeed an employee of the Department of Agriculture. That may make her a public official of sorts, but she was clearly not a public figure. By Taranto's logic anyone working for the Post Office would be exempt from protection against defamation. Furthermore, Taranto was wrong in stating the the incident involved claims about the performance of her public duties. There was nothing of the sort in Sherrod's speech before the NAACP. She was relating events that occurred 24 years earlier, before her employment with the USDA.
Finally, Taranto implied that it would be difficult for Sherrod to prove malicious intent on Breitbart's part. It seems to me that Breitbart's malice is fairly evident. By his own account, he had the video for months but never attempted to ascertain its validity or acquire an unedited version before posting it. Plus, he confessed to Newsweek that he knew it was out of context. Add to that his lack of remorse and his defiance in the face of evidence that his actions were defamatory, and you have a pretty good case for malice.
Taranto found it strange that Sherrod "issued this threat" of litigation before the National Association of Black Journalists. But Sherrod did not issue a threat. She answered a question. Taranto continued to be confused by the applause Sherrod received when she indicated her intention to sue Breitbart. This spurred Taranto to ask...
What kind of journalist would applaud the threat of a defamation lawsuit?
How about a journalist who takes pride in his work and is offended by pseudo-journalists who tarnish the profession? Taranto went on to make this absurd claim:
Journalists have an institutional interest in maximizing the scope of First Amendment protections, and that means keeping it as hard as possible for plaintiffs to sue for defamation.
I have no idea where he came up with that bit of lunacy. Reputable journalists who refrain from defaming people have no problem with defamation suits. It is part of the process of keeping them honest. Taranto's argument would have gun owners opposed to laws against murder. But just as most gun owners support laws against murder, most journalists support laws against defamation.
A scheduled fundraising event by Michael Steele's Republican National Committee that was to feature Breibart has been "postponed." The event was to be held at the swanky Beverly-Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills in just two weeks. This last-minute cancellation is curious considering the complex logistics in putting together a high-profile affair like this. It may or may not have had anything to do with Breitbart's participation and the embarrassment that may entail, but when you also know that Steele backed out of an appearance before the same convention of black journalists that Sherrod attended, it does raise suspicions.
Breitbart was a featured speaker at the Uni-Tea rally in Philly yesterday. The event was designed to promote the racial and ethnic diversity within of Tea Party. They did manage to assemble a pretty diverse roster of speakers, but reports from the field say that the crowd, which was far smaller than expected, contained few people of color. Thus, Breitbart spent twenty minutes assuring the predominately white Tea Baggers that they weren't racists. I'm sure they feel better now.
Look for Breitbart's highly anticipated appearance at the National Tea Party Unity Convention in Las Vegas in October. This event was originally scheduled for mid July, but was postponed due to lameness. Also appearing will be Sharron Angle, Lou Dobbs and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily. This lineup up just screams unity.
Following that, Breitbart is amongst the seafarers embarking on a
three-hour eight day post-election cruise sponsored by the National Review. If you ever dreamed of being shipmates with Breitbart, as well as Karl Rove, Phyllis Schlafly, Jonah Goldberg, Tony Blankley, Scott Rasmussen, Thurston Howell III, and more, then you probably awoke mopping up sweat. By the way, isn't Rasmussen supposed to be a non-partisan pollster?