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Alan Dershowitz scores legal victory: $300M defamation suit against CNN can proceed

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Renowned lawyer and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz saw a procedural victory this Thursday in court when a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that his $300 million defamation lawsuit against CNN could proceed to depositions.

Dershowitz alleges that CNN unfairly edited comments that he made regarding whether or not President Donald Trump could be impeached for something that he believed was in the best interest of the public. 

CNN allegedly doctored a clip of Dershowitz’s defense in favor of then-president Trump during Democrats’ attempted impeachment in 2020 over a since debunked phone call where Democrats baselessly alleged Trump offered Ukraine “quid pro quo”.

The outlet aired an edited clip of Dershowitz’s defense argument in favor of Trump apparently to fit their narrative on impeachment and make Dershowitz appear incompetent.

According to Law & Crime, the original petition stated:

“Following the airing of that clip over and over again, the hosts, together with their panel guests, including CNN employees and paid commentators, exploded into 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. The very notion of that was preposterous and foolish on its face, and that was the point: to falsely paint Professor Dershowitz as a constitutional scholar and intellectual who had lost his mind.”

 

Attorneys for CNN failed in their argument for the case to be dismissed under the fair reporting privilege for the press. U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal agreed with Dershowitz that CNN offered an “abridgment” of his remarks, saying in the 22-page ruling that the network’s “commentators’ statements – that Dershowitz believes a President can do anything, even commit crimes if it would help his re-election – are not based upon a fair and accurate summary of Dershowitz’ statement to the Senate.”

“Dershowitz alleges that if the entire clip had been played, no panel guest would have been able to credibly make that statement,” the ruling read. “Thus, Dershowitz argues, CNN presented an official proceeding in a misleading manner and the fair report privilege does not apply. The Court agrees.”

Following his procedural victory on Thursday, Dershowitz told Newsmax that it’s “Not about me, it’s about misleading thousands and thousands of people. I said the president could be impeached if he committed crimes … they doctored the tape to make me say the president couldn’t be impeached even if he committed unlawful or illegal conduct.”

Dershowitz continued on CNN’s alleged dishonesty, “They simply distorted my words, the judge looked at it, he said, ‘No, they don’t get the benefit of the fair-reporting privilege … their reporting was unfair.’ They didn’t accurately reflect what I said, and I’m gonna be able to prove it made a deliberate, willful, malicious decision from the top down to doctor my tape in order to make me say exactly the opposite of what I said.”

The judge also ruled that CNN acted with actual malice, a necessary prerequisite for defamation suits brought by public figures. 

“But because the broadcasts did not present a fair and accurate abridgment of Dershowitz’ remarks, CNN cannot avail itself of the fair report privilege,” the court opinion stated. “[T]he CNN broadcast segments set forth in Dershowitz’ Complaint were focused specifically on Dershowitz’ comments to the Senate and, as presented on air, changed the gist of what Dershowitz said. For the fair report privilege to apply a defendant must have ‘presented a fair and accurate report of the source documents.’ The CNN broadcasts do not meet that standard.”

While trial awaits for the news network that is often criticized for pushing a partisan narrative and cherry picking facts, Dershowitz is taking another corporation to bat. 

The attorney is suing Netflix for $80 million alleging defamation and “breach of contract, promissory estoppel and fraudulent inducement” over his portrayal in the documentary series “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich”. 

Dershowitz said that the show misrepresented the elements of his denial of the accusations that he raped Virginia Roberts Giuffre as part of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking operation.

Fox Business reached out to Netflix for comment. A spokesperson said “Mr. Dershowitz’s lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend our partners and the series.”

Kay Apfel

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