Fighting Back Against the Noise Machine

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Last year, as I’m sure you’ll recall, Andrew Breitbart posted an edited videotape of a speech by Shirley Sherrod. He presented this video as proof positive that Sherrod, the USDA’s Georgia Director of Rural Development, was herself a racist and, furthermore, executed her job in an overtly racist way. Needless to say, it showed nothing of the kind. In fact, it showed just the opposite.

So should Sherrod sue Breitbart for defamation? At the time, Mark Thompson thought such a suit was ill-advised, but now that Sherrod has indeed sued Breitbart and Thompson has seen the actual complaint, he’s done a U-turn: “Having now reviewed some of the concrete allegations in her complaint and some other important factors, I’d like to walk that original assessment back a few miles. I have no idea how this case is ultimately going to play out, but Breitbart’s going to have a far tougher road to hoe on this than I anticipated.”

bmaz has more, including the fact that Sherrod is being represented by a very big gun indeed:

Lastly, the complaint is telling for just who Shirley Sherrod’s attorneys are, and it is a very significant point. There are a team of four attorneys at the DC office of Kirkland & Ellis, Thomas Clare, Michael Jones and Beth Williams with the lead being one Thomas D. Yannucci. And who is Tom Yannucci? Glad you asked. He is, if not the preeminent, one of the most preeminent plaintiffs defamation attorneys in the United States….Yannucci is the attorney who embarrassed and gutted NBC’s Dateline on the fraudulent GM exploding gas tank story and who obtained a page one above the fold retraction from Gannett Newspapers and the Cincinnati Enquirer, and reportedly $18 million, in the Chiquita Brands story.

….Shirley Sherrod is quite a woman, and she has come to the dance locked and loaded and with a very compelling story. Andrew Breitbart better strap in, it could be a bumpy ride.

I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of a bumpy ride.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

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