If you thought this whole Shirley Sherrod thing was just going to blow over, well, you’re not thinking like a lawyer interested in generating fees. Burned by Andrew Breitbart’s editing skills, Sherrod says she intends to sue. The New York Daily News reports:
“I will definitely do it,” Sherrod said at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego.
Sherrod said Andrew Breitbart knew what he was doing when he posted a doctored video that made it appear she was boasting about mistreating a white farmer.
“I knew it was racism, and no one had to tell me that,” she said. “Right will win the end.”
Oh Jesus Christ, please don’t tell me I’m going to have to defend Andrew Breitbart…
It’s not at all clear what exactly Sherrod will sue Breitbart for. False light? Defamation by implication? Being a mean ol’ sonofabitch? The — let’s call it “creative editing” — Breitbart allegedly did to Sherrod’s statements certainly made her look bad. But at the end of the day, the real harm Sherrod endured was from the ridiculous rush to judgment engaged in by everybody, from the Obama administration on down.
The Daily Show and the Colbert Report edit video clips all the time. Sure, they usually do it for a joke, and viewers of those shows know what they are getting. But really, if your read Breitbart expecting the “news” there to be any more real or serious than The Onion, aren’t you kind of an idiot? Is it Breitbart’s fault that there are apparently many people out there who take his infotainment as “truth”?
What Breitbart allegedly did was wrong, ethically — but is it really actionable in a court of law? If Sherrod can bring a cognizable claim against Breitbart, how long before Michele Bachmann grabs a team of lawyers to go after Jon Stewart?
Obviously, Sherrod was wronged, and that wrong started with Breitbart’s portrayal of her statements. But it really didn’t end there. At any point in time, numerous individuals could — and should — simply have taken a deep breath before they jumped into the judgment business.
In the meantime, there seems to be one immediate victor from Sherrod’s potential lawsuit. As Gawker puts it, “This is great publicity for Andrew Breitbart!”
Honestly, the fact that I’m even being forced to mention this joker suggests that Sherrod’s suit might not be the best idea.