Shirley Sherrod is suing Andrew Breitbart for releasing a deceptively edited video of a speech she gave to local NAACP group. The video was edited so that it appeared that Sherrod discriminated against white farmers. She lost her job with USDA. When the full speech was released it proved that Sherrod was no bigot.
I'm sure you remember the case of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA employee who lost her job when Andrew Breitbart released a highly edited video of her remarks to a NAACP group. Here's the post that Andrew Breitbart made when he released the video:
We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.
In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn't do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind". She refers him to a white lawyer.
Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups' racial tolerance.
Of course, that turned out to be completely untrue. Her tale was actually a heart-warming tale of overcoming prejudice and redemption. After a few days, the NAACP found the full video and released it. Shirley Sherrod had been deceptively edited and her story abruptly cut off.
By the time the video was released, Sherrod had lost her job and had been called a racist by many news commentators. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did ask Sherrod to return to USDA, which she declined. The story has a coda, Sherrod is now suing Breitbart.
Andrew Breitbart, the owner of several conservative Web sites, was served at the conference on Saturday with a lawsuit filed by Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department employee who lost her job last year over a video that Mr. Brietbart posted at his site biggovernment.com.
The video was selectively edited so that it appeared Ms. Sherrod was confessing she had discriminated against a farmer because he was white. In the suit, which was filed in Washington on Friday, Ms. Sherrod says the video has damaged her reputation and prevented her from continuing her work.
Mr. Breitbart said in a statement that he “categorically rejects the transparent effort to chill his constitutionally protected free speech.”
I hope she owns Breitbart's empire before this over. I'm no lawyer or expert in law but I think she has a case. Defamation law states that four elements must be present:
1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
2. The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
4. Damage to the plaintiff.
I think #3 is where Breitbart's defense will lie. He's already stated that he received this video as is but he trusted the source. It should be interesting to find out how he got the video in the discovery phase, if it comes to that.