Monday, February 21, 2011

Political Story; College Sports Impact

Another polarizing political figure looks to impact our world. This time, it's the showdown in the courts between Shirley Sherrod and Andrew Breitbart. You may recall that Breitbart was among those who were spreading an edited version of remarks made by Sherrod. Sherrod was dismissed by the Obama administration, who within 24-48 hours was reversing course once the whole story was revealed.

Now Sherrod is taking Breitbart to court for defamation.

Why so serious today?

Search and replace time. Read through the entirety of Ben Conery's story from The Washington Times and a similar story from The Washington Post (Isn't PressReader awesome)

There are several key hurdles to the suit actually making it to court. Is Sherrod a public figure or not? What is the limit of liability of the website owner when hyperbolic information is posted? Did Breitbart's own desire to cross promote reveal his bias -- a key factor if the higher standards of libel are applied should Sherrod be seen as a public figure? What protections under the First Amendment -- that is, is Breitbart a journalist -- exist for the website,, in regard to protecting the source of the original cutdown video?

To those points, quoting from Conery's story:

The lawsuit has more wrinkles than traditional defamation cases because it mentions the video and blog postings — including one that stated that Mrs. Sherrod "discriminates against people due to their race" — and cites messages Mr. Breitbart posted on the social networking site Twitter.

The suit is scheduled for trial on May 13.

So, why does it matter?

Search and replace time, my blog fans. Take the beleaguered coach/athlete/administrator of choice to replace "Sherrod" and the name of your local message board or born-digital sports news outlet to replace "Breitbart."

This case may rank right up with the EA Sports suits as the impact legal events of the year.

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