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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Alan Dershowitz Sues CNN For $300 Million

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Yow. Here’s the headline from over there at Mediaite:

Alan Dershowitz Files $300 Million Lawsuit Against CNN for Portraying Him as an ‘Intellectual Who Had Lost His Mind’

The story says, in part, this:

“Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against CNN, claiming the cable news network, together with their hosts and panelists, intentionally created a false narrative about what the famed criminal defense attorney argued while defending the president during impeachment proceedings earlier this year.

Dershowitz’s allegations stem from news coverage of his argument about the kind of quid pro quos a sitting president may engage in while office—provided that the exchange is done with the intent of winning re-election in the public interest and not in violation of some law. While his theory was widely panned by attorneys and legal experts across the media, Dershowitz claimed that CNN intentionally omitted portions of his argument to make it appear as though he was arguing ‘the exact opposite of what he said.’”

Let me start by acknowledging I’ve met Professor Dershowitz once or twice – ironically in a CNN Green Room.

My respect for him is not simply because of his long career of accomplishment in the legal profession. The fact is that Alan Dershowitz is that rare person who never hesitates to stand up for principle. He is a liberal. He supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before that. But he has been fearless in standing up for President Trump as his fellow liberals went wild with Trump Derangement Syndrome, culminating in the wildly off-the-rails impeachment of the President.

The crux of his lawsuit revolves around CNN’s description of his back-and-forth with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) when Dershowitz was speaking on the Senate floor as part of the Trump legal team during the impeachment trial. The subject was whether a “quid pro quo” was involved in Trump’s famous phone call with the President of Ukraine and if so was it legal.

Dershowitz answered Cruz by saying: “The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the ‘quo’ were in some way illegal.” Careful lawyer that he is, Dershowitz discussed what he called “three possible motives” a politician –  the President in this case – could have in this kind of situation. Those three were:

1. A motive in the public interest
2. A motive in his own political interest.
3. A motive in his own financial interest.

Then Dershowitz said the blindingly obvious:

“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest, and mostly you’re right–your election is in the public interest—and if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected—in the public interest—that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

As someone who has worked directly for elected politicians ( successively a State Senator, a Congressman, a US Senator and a President) and met scores and scores of others, I have never met one who did not view that their election was in the public interest.

The problem here, according to the lawsuit, is that Dershowitz says CNN aired only that sentence and not the rest of his lengthy statement. And they did it, his lawsuit says, to present:

….“a one-sided and false narrative that Professor Dershowitz believes and argued that as long as the President believes his reelection is in the public interest, that he could do anything at all – including illegal acts – and be immune from impeachment.”

Quite clearly, Dershowitz neither said nor meant anything of the sort. The idea that any first-year law student, not to mention a Harvard Law professor emeritus, would ever suggest a President has the right to commit illegal acts is preposterous on its face.

What’s really going on here? The lawsuit says this:

“However, Professor Dershowitz appears to have made one mistake. He chose to defend the President of the United States and defend the U.S. Constitution at moment in time where CNN has decided that doing so is not permitted. For this, CNN set out to punish him and destroy his credibility and reputation, and unfortunately, succeeded.”

The hard fact is that CNN has made a decision to turn itself into an anti-Trump network. And as is true with lots of people and institutions who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, judgment gets clouded and they go off the rails in one episode or another.

This was the case with both CNN and a number of other anti-Trump media outlets when they zeroed in on Covington, Kentucky 16-year-old Nick Sandmann and tried to portray him as some sort of snotty, rich-kid bigot. The defamation lawsuit came, and CNN and The Washington Post wound up paying up.

This time around the same anti-Trump virus has meant a lawsuit not filed by a teenager in Kentucky but one of America’s best known – not to mention best – lawyers.

Awhile back, Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins mused this of the President:

“Seemingly effortlessly, though, he has incited people and institutions that do have something to lose to wreck their own reputations: The FBI, CNN, our universities, etc.”

Bingo.

And this multi-multi million dollar lawsuit of CNN by Alan Dershowitz, no matter its result, is yet more evidence of just that.

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