Shirley Sherrod Sues Right-Wing Blogger Andrew Breitbart for Libel
One of the reasons why I miss Keith Olbermann: segments like this Special Comment that made many other blacks watch his show.
The papers were served on the blogger while Breitbart held forth at CPAC–the Conservative Political Action Conference–on Saturday. Breitbart is declaring in essence, bring it on. Even though he’s got practically nothing.
From Media Matters:
Sherrod contends in the suit that a video clip he posted last year “has damaged her reputation and prevented her from continuing her work.”
Breitbart, who first posted the clip on July 19, 2010, at his BigGovernment.com site, had been under scrutiny after it was revealed the clip misrepresented Sherrod’s message during a speech in March 2010 before a group of NAACP members.
Fox then posted an online article reporting on the clip, linking to Breitbart’s video. Breitbart did not seek comment from Sherrod prior to his report; Fox News also gave no indication that they had done so. She was forced to resign later that day.
Breitbart has recently claimed that Sherrod was not fired because of his video but because of her part in the 11-year-old Pigford case, in which black farmers sued for discrimination against the Agriculture Department.
He stated such a claim again on Thursday in an interview with Media Matters, in which he admitted he had no proof of the assertion, revealing it was a theory.
Right. A flipping theory. His theory.
The Pigford v. Glickman case, settled in 1999, has since produced the largest compensation ever, as of July 2010, consisting of $13 million dollars paid to the now-defunct collective farm New Communities of Southwest Georgia, which was based on the idea of kibbutz communities in Israel. Shirley as well as her husband Charles Sherrod were also landholders at New Communities from 1969 until as late as 1985. They sought to promote a black return to the land with the Albany Movement, a famous civil rights coalition of which Charles Sherrod was one of the principal leaders. The couple were compensated $150,000 each. Not only black farmers were compensated for racial discrimination under this and other payouts, but Native American tribes as well. The total amount of compensation is close to a billion dollars.
Breitbart’s response? Unfortunately, he still thinks that Pigford and Shirley Sherrod are frauds.
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.”
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Mr. Breitbart held a national press conference at which he, Huffington Post blogger Lee Stranahan, and black farmer Eddie Slaughter presented compelling evidence for, and Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Steve King (R-IA) specifically called for, Congressional investigation into the Pigford case.
At the press conference, Mr. Breitbart revealed two hours of audio of Thomas Burrell, the head of the Black Farmers & Agriculturalist Association, Inc., teaching non-farmers in the South how to commit fraud in the Pigford “back-door” reparations case. This audio conclusively demonstrates how people have conspired to grow the class of Pigford claimants to 94,000, when in fact, there were only about 18,000 black farmers in the entire country during the relevant time period, and when there were never anticipated to be more than a few thousand potential claimants among those 18,000. The numbers just do not and cannot add up.
So, Breitbart’s essentially angry at Sherrod and her husband because they also stood to benefit for trying to keep their farm collective together in order to bring blacks back to the land not as sharecroppers or renters but as owners? Give me a break.
Reps. King and Bachmann are the usual conspiracy theory
nutcases suspects adherents huffing over what they feel is black entitlement; I’m sure that this Stranahan at HuffPo is one of the few conservatives or wingers posting at HuffPo (although that may be changing after Arianna has signaled that she’s willing to tilt rightward after the sale of HuffPo to AOL). My feeling is this: why should there always be widespread fraud connected with blacks (or Native Americans) for that matter asking for relief from discrimination?
According to Wikipedia, which has a well-facked up and uncontested entry on the case, those who filed the class action suit anticipated that perhaps 2,000 farmers might be compensated. Instead, when news about the suit circulated, thousands more filed and of these, 59% of over 22,000 farmers received compensation under Track A of $50,000 each plus incentives for “loan forgiveness and tax offsets.” Only 200 farmers opted for Track B in which the plaintiffs asked for larger sums and proved a preponderance of systematic discrimination from the USDA.
Now, according to an AOL Black Voices article, there were a little more than 40,000 black farmers. This number may have been lowered due to farmers dying out or going out of business because of the financial as well as the discriminatory pressure. Some claimants may have been filing after they had long ago given up their livelihoods or relatives may be filing for a since-deceased grandfather, father or uncle.
As many as 70,000 farmers’ claims were not heard because they were filed too late. The government will eventually review these cases and provide cash payments and other incentives to the claimants who manage to qualify. If these cases were not heard, then these particular plaintiffs were not compensated. So what’s the deal with Breitbart et al. claiming that up to 94,000 people have ripped off the government? I’m sure that there has been some fraud, but not widespread fraud as Breitbart is alleging. I’m sure the government is going to make doubly sure all the dots are dotted and the tees are crossed, especially during this time and this economy. Sounds like the welfare queen mythology at work again. If you want to learn more about Pigford, check it out at BlackFarmerCase.com.
And as for Shirley Sherrod, I hope she brings out all of her big guns after Breitbart who essentially smeared her and her career. Furthermore, Breitbart (along with Faux Noise) also conspired to destroy her reason for being of service to her community and to the clients who depended on her input and assistance. I mean, even Willie Nelson stepped up and said good words about her.
That’s why Sherrod turned down being kicked upstairs in the Obama Administration. The woman was demoralized as well as angry. They had betrayed her. I mean, seriously, they betrayed her by believing a lie. Breitbart’s lie. That is the very worst of betrayals–that the people or the administration that you support or represent suddenly drop you over an ocean. And this is why I believe that Shirley Sherrod, emerging from what I believe is her sense of grief, horror, and dislocation about what happened to her, has decided that it is time to put the liars on the stand.