******************** THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO WWW.LEGALINSURRECTION.COM ********************

This blog is moving to www.legalinsurrection.com. If you have not been automatically redirected please click on the link.

NEW COMMENTS will NOT be put through and will NOT be transferred to the new website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shirley Sherrod Catches Andrew Breitbart's Car

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.

Related Posts:
Context! For We, But Not For Thee
Shirley Sherrod May Prefer The Life Left Unexamined
The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not "False"

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube
Visit the Legal Insurrection Shop on CafePress!
Bookmark and Share


  1. I've said this at least a dozen times to as many people ... but wasn't the very, very obvious point of the video the NAACP audience's nodding and laughing reaction to her initial mistreatment of the white farmer? They didn't know the end of the story ... about her change of heart ... they just enjoyed hearing about a government official mistreating a man because of his white skin color.

    It was not about her ... it was about the audience's reaction. Wasn't that obvious?

  2. It is short term thinking for the left. the idea was to make sure any possible monday mention of Breitbart's Pigford stuff also came with baggage.

    Like the free spenders they are they only sought to win one news cycle undeterred by the long term cost.

  3. @Luke - that was Breitbart's point when he released the video clip. It was the left who hijacked the message (as usual) and made it about racism against the black woman.

    When I read about this lawsuit over the weekend, I could almost feel Breitbart's excitement that he got what he wanted. The "institutional left" reacts, as usual, by slapping a lawsuit on the target. But the leftists just don't get that Andrew Breitbart and his fellow investigators (including a HuffPo guy!) are onto their Alinsky tactics, have planned - even counted - on them being utilized, and will use them to expose what they REALLY want: who knew about Pigford, what did they know, and when did they know it? The truth will be revealed, if the suit continues.

    Personally, I believe Sherrod and co. will quietly retract the suit, now that they realize they have everything to lose, and Breitbart has everything to gain.

  4. Can I evoke the story of the Tar Baby? I mean, damn... Sherrod just stuck her right arm in up to her shoulder.

    She will not like what happens next. I'd love to help write the discovery instruments!!!!

  5. @DINORightMarie

    I've always feared for the left's poor critical reading and thinking skills ... and now their critical video-viewing skills. Or are you implying this was an intentional hijacking? : )

  6. I suspect Sherrod may be assuming that because the MSM continues to perpetuate her lie that Breitbart unfairly misrepresented her comments and subsequently, the Pigford fraud, that her lie will prevail in court. She is probably trying to secure a bargaining chip to persuade Breitbart into dropping his relentless campaign to expose the Pigford fraud.

    Sherrod and her gang believe that they stole their money fair and square and now want to be left alone to enjoy their loot. You can't build a case around a misinformed public.

  7. Please let this lawsuit proceed, particularly the discovery portion.

    And if Mr. Breitbart's insurance is insufficient, let me be one of the contributors to the defense costs.

  8. @Luke - intentional, IMHO. It's all Alinsky all the time for them. But, we're onto them at last.

    ....although, they do have enough useful idiot lemmings (think Janeane Garofalo) to indicate they also fulfill your fear.

  9. i should not gloat. i really shouldn't. but the thought of breitbart exposing these crooks just fills me with so much glee! count me in for a contribution to his defense fund.

  10. Breitbart is in a lot of trouble - and Prof. Jacobson, you think his insurance policy covers intentional torts?

  11. I love it when liberals step in poo

  12. @Ken - he certainly would be entitled to a defense under any typical policy, regardless of whether there is indemnity, and if the tort is defamation or false light, he probably is covered for indemnity as well. So the likelihood that Breitbart will pay a penny himself is small, and more important, there is no claim here if all they have is the tape and the statement Breitbart issued when the tape was released, which as I have documented, did have the context of the statement.

  13. @Prof. Jacobson - thanks for the response. Obviously, I haven't seen Breitbart's policy, nor have I ever seen any type of blogger insurance policy. I've read the complaint, and it makes out a good argument for actual malice. I'm sure Breitbart or his lawyer will post the answer shortly.

  14. Ken,

    Of course it was malice. The question is: even if Sherrod were to prevail will it be more profitable to him than her and her cause?

    You couldn't buy publicity like Breitbart will get out of this case. Or the uncovering of untold stories he could use for profit.

  15. I have a feeling Shirley Sherrod just stepped in it and drug the AD with her.

  16. I think just before she sued him, Breitbart said, "Please, whatever you do, don't throw me in the briar patch."

  17. Mr. Jacobson, I sense you must be a bit of a neophyte in these public litigation matters, based on your comment that you are sure Mr. Breitbart does not like to be sued. This lawsuit is a Godsend to Mr. Breitbart and I am sure he sees it that way. His biggest challenge is going to be managing the insurance defense lawyers who will want to try to get the lawsuit to go away, which is the last thing that Mr. Breitbart will want. He will need his own personal public interest counsel that he will have to pay for.

    I represent a public activist who has been threatened and sued often. Raising money for the defense is no problem because there plenty of generous, committed people out there who want to help expose the left.

    The whole Pigford thing needed more publicity and this lawsuit is a great way to showcase the whole fraud.

  18. Tell me where to send my defense contribution and I'll be HAPPY to support Breitbart.