*A case involving a video featuring former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod has been settled.
Black Press USA cites a report from the Associated Press which states that Sherrod and the widow of Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger who posted a video that featured Sherrod supposedly making racist remarks in 2010, have reached a tentative settlement in the case. On Tuesday (Sept. 14), U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the case halted “in light of the parties’ representations that a settlement has been reached” and the agreement circulated for signatures.
The terms of the settlement have so far remained confidential, according to the AP.
The settlement comes years after Sherrod, who is black, sued Breitbart and his colleague Larry O’Connor in 2011 for defamation and emotional distress after she was asked by USDA official to resign from her post as a rural development official in Georgia. Sherrod’s suit resulted a year after Breitbart posted the video of Sherrod.
Breitbart’s wife, Susannah, ended up substituting for the blogger after he died unexpectedly in 2012.
News of the video triggered a slew of criticism from the public. The situation was seen in a new light when Sherrod’s full speech surfaced after Breitbart’s original post. The AP notes that Sherrod’s remarks were not racist. Instead, they pertained to racial reconciliation as she addressed overcoming her initial reluctance to help a white farmer decades ago.
The truth behind Sherrod’s comments resulted in public apologies from President Barack Obama and the Obama administration as well as an offer for her to return to the Agriculture Department.
Sherrod ultimately rejected the offer, saying in her lawsuit that she was damaged by having her “integrity, impartiality and motivations questioned, making it difficult (if not impossible) for her to continue her life’s work assisting poor farmers in rural areas,” even though she was invited to return to the department.
The effect of the incident on Sherrod was also touched on in the suit, with it stating that the video and the uproar her back pain and affected her sleep.
Lawyers for the bloggers countered claims made in the suit by arguing that the blog post was opinion and did not defame Sherrod.