Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 12:10 PM
In July 2010, fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod said she'd sue Andrew Breitbart. The conservative Web journalist and mogul, she said, was "targeting me" when he released a short clip of a speech she gave, giving the impression that she'd once denied help to a white farmer.
The story faded. Breitbart first called it a distraction, then started digging into a little-covered news item lost in the Sherrod frenzy — a multibillion-dollar settlement for black farmers, something Sherrod had worked on for years. He spent the months from then to now posting updates on possible fraud in the settlement and promoting the work of Lee Stranahan , a liberal journalist who's been interviewing farmers and attorneys who fear that money from the settlement is not going to the farmers.
On Saturday, Sherrod finally sued Breitbart. I talked to Breitbart about the suit today. "The National Black Farmers Association is holding a press conference tomorrow," he argued, citing an event that the organization is holding at the National Press Club. "They're trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again."
According to Breitbart, the lawsuit is a massive and expected distraction.
"Those including Ms. Sherrod, who continue to uphold the grotesque premise that the Pigford settlement helped the black farmers, are fully aware that the Pigford house of cards is falling around them," said Breitbart. "The NBFA is having a press conference three days after I was served. The timing is not a coincidence. Their press statement said that there's an emerging crisis. We are the emerging crisis. Lee Stranahan is the emerging crisis. Internal investigations by the federal government are the emerging crisis. This lawsuit is a last-ditch attempt to shock me into silence, and it won't work."
In 2010, the Sherrod story broke
via a tape sent to Breitbart
after the NAACP passed a resolution asking the Tea Party movement to condemn racism. That, said Breitbart, was the wrong context for the story.
"Pigford is one of the largest politically motivated scams and class-action lawyer boondoggles in the history of the United States," he said, "and Shirley Sherrod is a central figure in this political fraud and the recipient of $13 million between her husband and their defunct New Communities Inc . Her lawsuit confirms our long-held belief that it was Obama himself that fired her, and not Tom Vilsack. Obama's fingerprints are all over extending Pigford from 22,000 claimants to 94,000 claimants as a means to help him win the Southern primaries. We will also show that President Obama is so intimately tied to Pigford that we will show you a letter to then-Sec. of Agriculture Mike Johanns for a whistle-blower to be punished for raising the specter of Pigford fraud. His intimate involvement in this massive taxpayer fraud."