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Breitbart must face Shirley Sherrod's defamation suit

Anissa Ford's picture

Andrew Breitbart has to meet Shirley Sherrod in court and respond to her defamation suit.

Breitbart filed a motion to dismiss Sherrod’s defamation suit. But the US District Court in Washington DC refused Breitbart’s request to dismiss.

Sherrod filed the suit in February of 2011, a year after the Breitbart tapes seeped its way into mainstream media. Breitbart’s tape, edited to paint Sherrod as racist and a reflection of NAACP racial behaviors, resulted in Sherrod’s dismissal.

Breitbart maintained that he never meant to hurt Sherrod, but to place heat on the NAACP. Sherrod was fired on the spot by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a direct order from the White House, she wrote in her complaint.

Sherrod also said she was forced to pull over and resign from her position via Blackberry.
A year later, she filed a defamation suit against Breitbart and his partner. But Sherrod didn’t file and EEOC suit against the federal government for unlawful termination.

She was offered a newer position by the feds, but declined.

Breitbart cited Anti-SLAPP laws in hopes of dismissing Sherrod’s pending lawsuit. SLAPP laws are meant to bully critics into silence with threats of a lawsuit.

DC’s Anti-SLAPP laws allowed Breitbart to counter Sherrod’s defamation suit by claiming that his work was done with regards to further rights of free speech and that his works involved matters of public concern, which thus enabled Breitbrat to legally file a special motion to dismiss.

Breitbart’s tape was edited to portray Shirley Sherrod as a detriment to the success of white farmers. The edited video suggests that Sherrod gave preferential treatment to African American farmers over white farmers.

But the full tape reveals a moment of enlightenment for Sherrod. The video reveals a woman who learned a valuable lesson about racism and bitterness after she helped a White farmer in need.
That farmer did reach out to news agencies and reveal that Sherrod had helped him and that she was not a person who executed power or decisions with regard to race. News media also retracted the story and apologized, but it was too late. Sherrod was a household name and unceremoniously fired from the Department of Agriculture.

But US District Court Judge Richard Leon denied Breitbart’s motion to dismiss. Leon said Breitbart missed the deadline to file a motion to dismiss by two weeks and thus the lawsuit will proceed.
Breitbart’s mistake with Sherrod hasn’t deterred the media vigilante. His brand of journalism is credited for outing ex-New York Representative Anthony Weiner. Weiner told media his account had been hacked. But Breitbart’s media was behind the exposed Weiner photos.

Weiner, disgraced while in public office, was forced to resign.


Submitted by E.T. (not verified) on
You wrote: "SLAPP laws are meant to bully critics into silence with threats of a lawsuit." Well, no. SLAPP stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation." It refers to lawsuits brought against people who publicly expose inconvenient truths, in an effort to intimidate and shut them up. An anti-SLAPP law is designed to counter this type of lawsuit by allowing the court to dismiss it immediately (and award fees and costs to the defendant) if the proper showing is made under the anti-SLAPP statute. Thus, if I might edit your sentence: "SLAPP [lawsuits] are meant to bully critics into silence with threats of a lawsuit." OR: "[Anti-]SLAPP laws are meant to [prevent] bully[ing] critics into silence with threats of a lawsuit."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
No wonder the guy killed over -- he was not looking forward to going to court to face justice for being a racist.

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