CNN wants to cite the controversy surrounding Alan Dershowitz’s appearance on BBC News following Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction to defend the network against the Harvard Law School professor emeritus’s defamation lawsuit.
The public backlash to Dershowitz’s media appearance across the pond demonstrates his sullied reputation, CNN claims.
Shortly after Maxwell’s convictions on sex trafficking and other charges, BBC News brought Dershowitz on the air as a commentator, which the network later found “did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards.” The British broadcaster found that Dershowitz was not a “suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst” because Maxwell’s accuser Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) also accused him of sexual abuse, which was “relevant background” that was not made clear to viewers. Dershowitz was also a lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein.
The BBC launched an investigation to see how the Dershowitz appearance occurred as it did.
Reprising those recent events, CNN’s attorney Eric C. Edison wrote in a legal brief on Wednesday: “Mr. Dershowitz was introduced as a ‘constitutional lawyer,’ and proceeded to attack Virginia Giuffre’s allegations that she was sexually abused by Mr. Dershowitz and others.”
“The BBC’s actions in interviewing Mr. Dershowitz about the Maxwell trial, despite the allegations against him, were met with public outrage,” wrote Edison, a shareholder in the Florida-based Gunster law firm. “These developments demonstrate, as CNN argued in its Motion to Compel, that Ms. Giuffre’s allegations against Mr. Dershowitz are absolutely relevant to evaluating his reputation, specifically including his professional reputation as a constitutional lawyer. At a minimum, CNN is entitled to defend itself by discovering the extent to which Mr. Dershowitz’s claimed damages are due to other factors such as Ms. Giuffre’s allegations, and not the allegedly defamatory statements by CNN.”
The CNN segment that sparked Dershowitz’s ire had nothing to do with Giuffre, whose allegations he vehemently denies and whom he has countersued.
In a $300 million lawsuit, Dershowitz claims that CNN falsely portrayed him as an “intellectual who had lost his mind” by misleadingly editing his defense of former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial.
During the proceedings, Dershowitz responded to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) by answering: “The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the ‘quo’ were in some way illegal.”
“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,” Dershowitz continued after discussing possible motives. “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.”
Dershowitz asserted in court papers that CNN edited the exchange to insinuate that he “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.”
A federal judge in Florida rejected CNN’s bid to dismiss the case in May 2021, sending the case to discovery. CNN’s latest motion aims to undercut Dershowitz’s argument that it is responsible for diminishing his reputation.
Read the motion, below:
[Image via Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images]
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