The Huffington Post reports that Shirley Sherrod will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart:
Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod says she will sue a conservative blogger who posted an edited video of her making racially tinged remarks last week.
Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention.
The edited video posted by Andrew Breitbart led Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask her to resign, a decision he reconsidered after seeing the entire video of her March speech to a local NAACP group. In the full speech, Sherrod spoke of racial reconciliation and lessons she learned after initially hesitating to help a white farmer save his home.
This will of course be a highly watched — and politicized — case. Expect to see ASAP a Breitbart legal defense fund set up and ready to raise money via conservative talk show hosts, websites and some Fox News hosts. And expect to see it on the other side as well. It will be argued that the case is a matter of the responsibilities and leeway in freedom of speech.
One thing: winning lawsuits such as this are easier said than done. But after working on two newspapers that were sued from time to time it is worth noting: even if a lawsuit fails, the fact it has been brought tends to instill a bit of caution. So whether he is successfully sued or not, it’s likely some networks, mainstream media and more careful Internet news sites will balk before running any of his future allegations — perhaps checking them out a bit more. Even if Sherrod loses, she will put Breirbart under the microscope and — most likely — on the courtroom stand.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.