Shirley Sherrod is going to sue Andrew Breitbart, she says. The liberal internets are all aTwitter with joy. Andy finally is going to get his comeuppance.
It is unclear what the grounds for the suit would be.
Defamation? For what, showing a two-minute clip of her speech, and not showing the rest of the speech (which Breitbart apparently did not have a copy of)? For calling her comments “racist” when she admitted in the speech, at a minimum, to formerly being a racist?
Interference with her employment? When she resigned and turned down the job when she was offered it after her resignation?
For portraying her in a false light? Really? I’d like to see the movie of her real light.
The legal issues — was she a public figure? — may not take this case past a motion to dismiss at the start of the case.
But, let’s say the lawsuit does get off the ground, and moves forward into discovery.
Will Sherrod assert that her reputation has been damaged? By claiming reputational harm, Sherrod opens up almost her entire life to scrutiny, which is why so many people are hesitant to assert a defamation claim.
Will Sherrod assert the loss of her job as damages? This would permit Breitbart to take depositions up the chain of command, from the person who made the infamous “pull over to the side of the road” phone call, to Tom Vilsack, to the people in the White House.
Now, I’m sure Breitbart does not want to be sued, even though he probably has insurance anyway, which at least would cover the defense costs.
But, if having to defend a suit of dubious merit allows Breitbart to put Sherrod’s life on trial, to conduct an inquiry into the NAACP and Sherrod’s connections in the movement, and to take the depositions of administration officials, that might just be a price Breitbart is happy to pay.
After all, the show must go on.
Update 7-30-2010: Real Sherrod Story Still Untold, and Breitbart is just the guy to tell it. Somehow, I don’t think she really will sue.
Update 7-31-2010: See my new post, The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not “False”.