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Shirley Sherrod vows to sue conservative blogger who misrepresented her remarks

Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod, shown July 29. Credit: Associated Press Shirley Sherrod, the African American federal agriculture official who was forced out of her job after a conservative blogger posted a heavily edited portion of a speech she had made, said Thursday that she believes her experience provides a fresh opportunity for a discussion of race issues in the nation.

"If the suffering I've endured and the joy I've felt gets that discussion back out there, we've got to deal with it," said Sherrod, who made her remarks at a panel discussion entitled "Context and Consequences" at the annual convention of the National Assn. of Black Journalists being held in San Diego.

Sherrod's forced resignation as director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture has touched off a highly charged discussion nationwide about journalism, race, and politics. She was forced out July 19 after  conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a small  portion of the video of a speech Sherrod had given.

In the part of the speech that was posted, Sherrod appeared to indicate that she would not help a white farmer as she would a black farmer. In reaction, the NAACP condemned her and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ordered her resignation.

But when the fuller context was made public, it was obvious that Sherrod's speech had carried the opposite message: the need to transcend race and to help all poor people without regard to race. The white farmer appeared on national television to defend Sherrod and say that without her intervention decades ago he would have lost his farm to foreclosure.

Those revelations brought an apology to Sherrod from the White House and an offer from Vilsack of another job in the department. Sherrod is said to be considering that offer.

Sherrod, 62,  said Thursday she will sue Breitbart. She said he has not offered her an apology, nor does she want one.

She also repeated her invitation to President Obama to accompany her on a tour of rural Georgia landmarks of the civil rights movement, in which she and her husband, Charles, were active.

Saying that many Americans, black or white, don't know  much about the height of the civil rights movement a half a century ago, Sherrod said of Obama, "I need to have him down there so I can take him around and show him some of that history. He should come and see and hear that firsthand."

Responding to questions, Sherrod said she believes the White House is allowing vocal conservative journalists and bloggers "to decide how to govern."  But she said bears no ill feelings toward the NAACP, which condemned her before seeing the entire video, nor Vilsack.

"It's not about me," she said, "It's about us and all we have to accomplish."

Sherrod said she was buoyed by the response once the entire video was revealed:

"I've gone from feeling like such a failure ... to feeling very, very great with all the support that's come forth."

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (29)

Of course. But why not turn the other cheek instead?

The person that should be fired is Sherrod's boss, for not taking the time to watch the entire video and hear her side of the story. As for the blogger, I say sue the guy. This will set a precedent for future editing misrepresentations.

I am an Obama supporter however there is something to be said about the way the White House handle the situation; they fired this woman before even investigating what she was being accused of. Is it fear that is governing this adminstration? Or is it something else? Just food for thought.

Good for her. Make 'em pay.

Andrew Breitbart is no better than the Wanna-Be yellow journalist at the Enquirer/Globe, and brings a whole new definition to word "coward"... and he should be held accountable where it hurt$... Defamation of character is a crime last I checked. Even the rags pay big money when caught defaming ones character.
I think this guy underestimated the repercussions his insipid stunt would have (and maybe not, stupid is as stupid does).
Pay up buddy!

Kuddos to Shirley Sherrod for showing what "Grace Under Pressure" looks like!

Sue him for every cent he's got!

The bar for libel and defamation of character in the U.S. is quite high. You have to prove you were damaged and you have to prove intent. On the first count she wins hands down. The second is a different matter. It depends on how much evidence the court will allow to be entered ( eg. the ACORN affair.) The legal struggle will be enormous. But it will be more than worth it if Breitbart is put on the stand and made to explain himself. He can't change the subject and obfuscate as he normally does.

Good for her!

Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always,[1] a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).

Easy lawsuit. Sherrod lost her job due to Breitbart's edited broadcast of Sherrod speech.

Is she gong to sue NAALCP? It was their video, they knew what was in the entire video and they called for her firing. They're in line ahead of Breitbart.

Sherrod is a serial plaintiff. Just witness the cash she has already gotten out of the USDA. This is just an attempt to get a settlement out of Breibart. She might have a chance with a regular corporation. Not with a news company. This is plenty of free publicity for which they are guaranteed an inside scoop. No way they will settle.

Breitbart's lawyers are rubbing their hands with glee over the prospects of discovery.

It is time to criminalize racism. It should be a Federal crime. The penalty...Loss of United States Citizenship.

I think she should sue the idiot. Just because someone is a government employee (of ANY government agency, federal, state, county or city) that does NOT make them fair game for bloggers with their own agendas, or anybody frankly.

What is the basis of the proposed suit? Slander? It is difficult to prove. At the minimum, she will be required to prove that he knowingly provided false information; intended to cause her harm; and, as a result, she suffered harm to her reputation, ability to be employed and/or that she somehow suffered significantly in a tangible way.

In short, she has no case.

As she should.

Two expressions apply here; the first: "Those who don't already know the truth won't recognize it when they see it." And such is the case with slime artists like Breitbart and his followers. While I believe she has been wronged and I would love to see her win in court, she's already won, and he has already lost, in the court of public opinion -- at least among those willing to acknowledge the truth. A monetary judgment changes nothing.
The second expression: "Don't argue with fools; somebody else might not know the difference." She should spend her time spreading the message of her speech and not wrangling with a punk like Breitbart. He and his fellow fear-mongerers are not interested in the truth.

Breitbart didn't fire her, the administration forced her to resign and she did. She resigned. Repeat. She resigned. She has no lawsuit.

"Turning the other cheek" means that right-wing thug Breitbart wins.

The NAACP should be disbanded for this action. How dare they condemn this woman. Their is aboslutely no reason to have organizations like this one who condemn people of rascism off a whim. These organizations are to promote tolerance and peace not pointing fingers and waving flags. There should be a government organization that keeps the media on check and makes them pay for posting misinformation. I hope that idiot looses everything.

Shirley, SUE FOX!!!

Whether or not you believe someone is a "socialist" or a "classist" or a "liberal" or a "conservative," you should understand that no one deserves to be treated the way Shirley Sherrod was treated. God help you if you think she deserved it, just because you happen to disagree with what you think are her politics, because obviously you have no moral compass.

Ed in Socal: Quoting Michael Yaki? Do you know who he is? He's a laughingstock liberal blogger for the SF Chronicle. He is consistently wrong about darn near everything he writes about. He is an ultra leftist Berkeley guy who the people in Northern CA think is more of a moron than an intellect. And this is the guy you are quoting. Barrel must be empty because you are clearly scraping the bottom.


Yes, she was force to resign, but until you have been in that position yourself, you do not know what feels like. It is not the best feeling in the world, and you do not comprehend what it is like or how it makes you feel.

Good luck with the suit, it ain't happening. If we were allowed to sue somebody over "editing a video" and misrepresenting the truth in the video.....We could ALL sue Michael Moore...

Isn't time for Shirley to take her 15 minutes and leave?

Fox News aired this 5 hours after her firing. This is to quiet all these misinformed liberals ready to jump on the news organization for no reason. Glenn Beck even defended Sherrod. Is this the hot spot for blind liberals?

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