The conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart, passed away due to natural causes outside of his Los Angeles home. Breitbart gained notoriety by being the first to post semi-nude photographs of Anthony Weiner. The postings lead to Weiner’s resignation from his position as a congressman. More recently, Breitbart has been the lead defendant in a closely-watched defamation lawsuit in Washington. Former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod sued Breitbart and Larry O’Connor, accusing them of making defamatory claims of racism against her by posting a edited clip of a speech she gave to a NAACP group. O’Connor, Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart.tv and Breitbart denied the alleged wrongdoing, claiming the posted clip was protected under the First Amendment.
In house counsel for Breitbart’s Big Journalism Joel Pollack suggests in an interview that even though Breitbart has passed away, he believes this will not have much of an effect on the defense against the suit brought by Sherrod. Michael Rothberg of the firm Dow Lohnes said, “If the defendant had a very good story to tell, and would be a very good witness, then not being able to tell that story to a jury is going to be harmful.” It is clear that the death of Andrew Breitbart will have an impact on the defense against Sherrod’s defamation suit, but since there is a co-defendant that might be able to tell Breitbart’s story, it is unclear what the impact will be.