Sometimes bloggers forget that we have to consider the same laws and rules of the land that everyone else does. It’s one thing to switch some video footage around to create a funny mashup or to edit audio to make it sound like someone said something that they didn’t. It’s another thing to pass your edited footage off as the real thing with no disclaimer.
Most reasonable people who run websites know that you have to let the public in on the deception at some point. Humor goes a long way when it comes to this. People get the hint when things are funny or outrageous. They say, “Hey!! That’s not real right?!?!” not “Oh my God! How terrible!”. However, the editing that conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart did to footage of former Dept. of Ag staffer Shirley Sherrod speaking at an NAACP function was not your common funny video mashup one could find on YouTube and forward on to co-workers and friends. No need for me to rehash that whole drama of her firing, people backpedaling after realizing the deception, etc. You know the story.
I’m happy to see that Ms. Sherrod is SUING Breitbart. At the time that this happened, she was a private citizen doing her job, not a public figure or celebrity who doesn’t enjoy the same legal protection because of their status. Defamation is defamation. Breitbart should have attacked the NAACP as an organization if he had an axe to grind (which is what seems to be the case), instead of going after a government employee.
Mrs. Sherrod has accused Mr. Breitbart, employee Larry O’Connor and the unnamed source of the video with defamation, representing her in a false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit, filed Feb. 11 in Superior Court in the District of Columbia, seeks the removal of the video and related blog posts from Mr. Breitbart‘s site and monetary compensation, including punitive damages, to “punish the defendants’ reprehensible conduct and to deter its future occurrence.
“Defendants deliberately edited the full video of Mrs. Sherrod‘s 43-minute speech down to a short, highly misleading two-and-a-half minute clip that defendants knew, or should have known, would portray Mrs. Sherrod in a false and defamatory manner,” the lawsuit stated. – source