You know that saying about the dog which chased the car but didn’t know what to do once it caught it. Shirley Sherrod just filed suit against Andrew Breitbart, but I think she’ll find it was not worth the pursuit.
The lawsuit concerns Breitbart’s release last summer of a tape of Sherrod speaking to an NAACP chapter about her past discriminatory feelings towards whites.
There is nothing to Sherrod’s claim that the partial tape painted her in a false light. As I noted before, even that partial tape revealed that Sherrod overcame those feelings:
The original Sherrod clip certainly gave enough of a flavor that Sherrod was talking about something in the past, and had changed (watch the clip beginning at 1:50, where Sherrod mentions that she no longer views race as the real issue). The full speech gives an even more complete version of that supposed transformation, but that does not make the shorter version “false.”
Add that to the fact that Sherrod was offered her job back after being precipitously forced to resign by the Obama administration, but she refused, and it’s hard to see a valid theory of recovery against Breitbart.
Equally important, I noted that Shirley Sherrod May Make Andrew Breitbart’s Day:
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.
And now it has come to pass, Sherrod has sued Breitbart, and Breitbart is reacting the way I expected (emphasis mine):
Breitbart.com LLC announced today that its Chairman and CEO Andrew Breitbart and the head of Breitbart.tv, Larry O’Connor, have been sued in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by a central figure in the Pigford “back-door” reparations case. The Pigford case involves over $2.5 billion in US taxpayer money and constitutes one of the biggest cases of corruption and politically-motivated fraud in the history of the United States. Mr. Breitbart and Breitbart.tv have been investigating and reporting on the Pigford case since late summer 2010.
Andrew Breitbart said, in response to being sued, “I find it extremely telling that this lawsuit was brought almost seven months after the alleged incidents that caused a national media frenzy occurred. It is no coincidence that this lawsuit was filed one day after I held a press conference revealing audio proof of orchestrated and systemic Pigford fraud. I can promise you this: neither I, nor my journalistic websites, will or can be silenced by the institutional Left, which is obviously funding this lawsuit. I welcome the judicial discovery process, including finding out which groups are doing so.”
The cost of defending the lawsuit, at least in the several hundreds of thousands of dollars and probably covered by insurance.
The chance to take the depositions of Obama administration and NAACP officials, to investigate Sherrod’s connections to left-wing advocacy groups, and to expose the Pigford case intrigues — priceless.
Update 2-15-2011 – Welcome Instapundit readers. I will have more later
this morning today analyzing the Complaint filed by Sherrod.
1 p.m. New post now up – Dissecting Shirley Sherrod’s Complaint Against Andrew Breitbart.
Context! For We, But Not For Thee
Shirley Sherrod May Prefer The Life Left Unexamined
The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not “False”