The Dershowitz Deflections
As lawyer Alan Dershowitz's profile increased during the Trump impeachment process, the last thing the Media Research Center and its "news" division, CNSNews.com, wanted to talk about was his links to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
By Terry Krepel
NewsBusters repeatedly touted how the "liberal" Dershowitz defended then -energy secretary Rick Perry against a supposedly "politically motivated" indictment while Texas governor, and blogger P.J. Gladnick even took perverse delight in the idea that Dershowitz may have made a panelist cry during a TV debate. Among the Dersh-loving headlines at the MRC over the past couple years:
But as Dershowitz's entanglement with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein became more prominent -- not only was Dershowitz a lawyer for Epstein when he negotiated a sweetheart non-prosecution deal on prostitution charges that earned him just a year in prison (which Dershowitz has defended), Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre has accused of having sex with her while underage -- the MRC didn't really want to talk about it.Gladnick complained in an April 22 NewsBusters post: "Compare the legal backgrounds of Harvard's Alan Dershowitz versus sleazy porn lawyer Michael Avenatti. Who has the more distinguished career? Yet CNN chose Avenatti over Dershowitz for the go-to person for legal analysis of the Trump-Russia collusion probe."Gladnick went on to reference "sleazy Michael Avenatti." But Gladnick omitted the fact that Dershowitz has his own sleazy-porn-lawyer record as well.
The Dershowitz-Epstein link has been mentioned only twice at the MRC in early 2019: a March 7 piece by Ryan Foley giving Ann Coulter space to whine that the Clinton-Epstein was being ignored while "irrelevant prince" Dershowitz was allowed to go on CNN to defend himself; and a July 18 item by Gregory Price that left a reference to Dershowitz buried in a transcript.
That last item was the last time Dershowitz was mentioned by the MRC's main content website, NewsBusters, in any context -- for a while, anyway. A Sept. 27 post by Brad Wilmouth seemed to start the image-rehab process by citing Dershowitz among the "high-profile liberal professors" who have argued that the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and the Ukranian president "does not constitute proof of lawbreaking" -- his first mention at the MRC in two months. Needless to say, Wilmouth didn't mention Dershowitz's links to Epstein.
But when Dershowitz became part of President Trump's legal team on impeachment matters, he was suddenly high profile again. And after near complete radio silence on the issue, the MRC became annoyed that people are bringing up Dershowitz's ties to Epstein.
In a Jan. 21 post, Kristine Marsh complained that "The View" co-host Joy Behar pointed out that Dershowitz "defended Epstein," which makes it "seems like there's something very gross about all these people that they have something to hide." Marsh then complained that Behar wouldn't fall for a Republican-friendly attempt at deflection: "After co-host Meghan McCain pointed out that President Clinton had a relationship with Epstein as well, Behar dismissed that point as not relevant because he wasn’t the one getting impeached 'right now.'"
The same day, Alex Christy expressed displeasure that CNN analyst Elie Honig discussed "controversial" members of Trump's defense team like Dershowitz, offering up his own "so what" defense: "Honig declared, 'He's been involved in high-profile cases he’s defended from O.J. Simpson to more recently Jeffrey Epstein.' So? Even the worst people are entitled to defense counsel. Honig went on to cite the Epstein-related sexual assault allegations against Dershowitz, that Dershowitz has denied."
Is Christy putting Trump on his list of "worst people" entitled to a legal defense? He doesn't make that clear.
Gabriel Hays then complained that Samantha Bee highlighted "Dershowitz’s friendship with billionaire and alleged suicide victim Jeffrey Epstein, saying, 'In Dershowitz’s defense, it’s not like he was close friends with notorious pedophile and didn’t-kill-himself-er Jeffrey Epstein. Oh no, I’m sorry, he totally was.' Boom, roasted, right?"
Hays then immediately went into whataboutism mode: "But isn’t the source of much of her rage the fact that Trump beat her own preferred rapist protector in the 2016 election? I mean, regardless of any of these men’s charges, Samantha’s Hillary Clinton support shows that she supports the same kind of person."
It seems the MRC is still a bit uncomfortable with the fact that Dershowitz is basically the same kind of "sleazy porn lawyer" it normally hates.
CNS touts Dershowitz too
Meanwhile, at the MRC's "news" operation, CNSNews.com -- which similarly published Dershowitz's pro-Trump defenses, including a desperate and laughable piece on him making the argument that it's no big deal to for Trump to pay hush money to porn stars because it's not a crime -- his last appearance after the Epstein story broke again was in a July 24 article by Susan Jones that touted Dershowitz's attack on Robert Mueller's congressional testimony, asserting Mueller should "shut up" since he didn't indict anyone. Jones followed Dershowitz's "shut up" dictate by refusing to mention his link to Epstein.
After similarly laying low for a few months, CNS resumed its promotion of Dershowitz's pro-Trump arguments -- and stayed silent about his sleazy side gig.
On Dec. 9, managing editor Michael W. Chapman promoted how "Famed defense lawyer, constitutional scholar, and best selling author Alan Dershowitz said that through the impeachment inquiry House Democrats are acting like the KGB under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Evidence does not matter to them, he said, and like KGB henchman Laverntiy Beria, all they declare is 'show me the man,' President Trump, and we'll 'find you the crime.'" Ten days later, Craig Bannister transcribed Dershowitz's rant that "If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) withholds articles of impeachment from the Senate as a negotiating tactic, it would be both unconstitutional and destructive." (It's not, and it wasn't.)
When Dershowitz was named to Trump's defense team for the Senate impeachment trial, Bannister gushed on Jan. 17 that he was an "iconic liberal civil and human rights defense attorney" and highlighting that Dershowitz said that "even though he voted for Hillary Clinton for president, he is non-partisan regarding the Constitution."
The next day, an article by Susan Jones touted the Fox News appearance of Trump's lawyers, including Dershowitz, who was quoted forwarding the argument that you don't judge a president "by looking into the depths of his mind and trying to figure out whether somewhere in the back of his mind he was trying to get some advantage to his electability." Jones also uncritically repeated Trump's claim that "there's a lot of talk" that then-Vice President Joe Biden "stopped the prosecution" of Biden's son and the Ukrainian company he worked for by getting the prosecutor fired without mentioning the important fact that the prosecutor was actually fired for not investigating corruption.
That was followed by a Jan. 22 article by Craig Bannister touting another Fox News appearance by Dershowitz, in which he insisted that if Trump is acquitted, "the impeachment disappears."
When the president's defense team swung into action at the trial, CNS was giving them copious space, including four -- count 'em! -- articles dedicated to Dershowitz's arguments:
As per usual, none of these articles mention Dershowitz's links to a convicted pedophile, even though CNS has a eye for detail when it wants, such as telling us (twice!) what dating app Pete Buttigieg met his husband on.
CNS clearly has an eye for detail -- except when that detail interferes with its pro-Trump agenda.