Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Professor Alan Dershowitz to the newsmakers line.
At the end of the third hour, Dershowitz explained his pending lawsuit against CNN who willingly doctored his testimony in front of the Senate regarding a president in impeachment. He added that it was important for him to pursue the lawsuit to disable cable news networks from distorting the truth.
Leahy: We are joined on the line by professor of law at Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz. Good morning Alan you are on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy and Carol Swain.
Dershowitz: Good morning. I wish I was in Nashville listening to some good music.
Leahy: Well, come on down.
Dershowitz: I’d love to.
Leahy: You are invited.
Swain: Our city is closed right now so this wouldn’t be the best time to come.
Dershowitz: Oh no. After post-COVID I’m going to come down there have a little BBQ and listen to some music.
Leahy: Well, Ben Shapiro is coming down here too by the way.
Dershowitz: He’s my former student. We are very proud of him. Most of us at Harvard Law School.
Leahy: He’s moving to Nashville. His entire company. So you are suing CNN.
Dershowitz: I am.
Leahy: Tell us why you are doing that Professor Dershowitz.
Dershowitz: CNN doctored a tape recording of me in front of the United States Senate. They made me say exactly the opposite of what I actually said. I said that a president that did anything illegally could be impeached.
But if he did completely legal actions but they were motivated to be re-elected and he thought they were in the national interest then he couldn’t be impeached. So they took out the part of where I said if he did anything illegal he could be impeached and made it sound as if the president could do anything he wants.
And then they put people like Joe Lockhart on the air saying oh Dershowitz says the president can commit any crime and do anything he wants. He can be Hitler. He can Mussolini. He can be Stalin. He can commit genocide. And plainly I had said exactly the opposite. And I’m just not going to let CNN get away with it.
They did it deliberately. They did it maliciously. They did it purposely They did it because my argument in front of the Senate had been effective. It had persuaded several senators and they didn’t like that so they wanted to hurt my credibility.
And they made it sound as if I made the absurd argument that a president can commit any crime as long as he wanted to be re-elected. That’s the exact opposite of what I said. The First Amendment doesn’t cover malicious, deliberate lying, and putting words in the mouth of somebody they didn’t say.
Although I’m a strong supporter of the First Amendment I believe that my suit against CNN serves the interests of truth and freedom of speech and that they are going to have to pay. I am not keeping the money. The money beyond my legal fees will go to charities around the world because I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this for the public. I want the public to be able to trust the media which today they don’t do because CNN does things like that. Distorts what somebody says and makes him say exactly the opposite.
Leahy: Are you representing yourself in this case, Professor Dershowitz.
Dershowitz: No. I have a good lawyer named Brian Rodier from Florida. We filed suit in Florida two days ago. The case will hopefully proceed to trial. And let a jury decide whether CNN did the right thing by doctoring the tape and editing it. I mean it’s as if I got on the Senate floor and said I do not believe a president can do anything. And they just quoted my statement as a president can do anything.
Leahy: Professor Dershowitz, my co-host in this program is former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain. Carol has a comment for you.
Swain: I just want to say that I heard your testimony before the Senate and I know that they did doctor the tape. And it’s very interesting because the media seems to think that they can do whatever they want when someone is a public figure. So I’m glad that you are holding them accountable. I hope you win for all of us.
Dershowitz: Well, thank you so much. It’s so nice to hear from someone as distinguished as you are. By the way, if you want to hear more about my lawsuit, I have a podcast now too. It’s called The Dersh Show. It’s my name.
And you can get it on Spotify or YouTube or Apple and I tell the whole story of the lawsuit that actually shows and you can hear what I actually said in front of the United States Senate. So there is no doubt or dispute that CNN willfully and edited the tape to take out my statement that if a president did something illegal he can be impeached.
And then they went on the air with their commentators who said Dershowitz says a president can’t be impeached even if he commits the most serious crimes like treason, bribery, extortion, and perjury. All lies. I never said that. I said the exact opposite. So listen to my podcast and you’ll hear me on that and other subjects as well. I don’t want to compete with your show here but I get to have my say too.
Leahy: It’s very clear then in your case that you state CNN willfully and deliberately lied about what you said. That seems to be pretty bad.
Dershowitz: That’s pretty bad and they got away with it.
Swain: No they haven’t gotten away with it.
Leahy: Not yet because I think your lawsuit will call them to task. (Dershowitz laughs)
Dershowitz: I hope so and I hope my charities will benefit when they have to pay for the damages they caused. They deliberately and willfully tried to make me look foolish. And I would have looked foolish if I would have said that a president could commit any crime he wants. The Constitution says you can be impeached if you commit crimes such as treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. And that was my whole point.
If you commit crimes you can be impeached. But if you don’t and you just want to get elected president and you do something to help your electoral prospects that motive can’t be enough to get you impeached if what you did was entirely lawful. They knew it. They distorted it. They wanted to present me as a fool who says that a president can do anything he wants even if it’s illegal. They knew I didn’t say that.
Leahy: Professor Dershowitz, I’m going to surprise you with an on-air invitation. As you know 233 years ago the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. September 17th, 1787.
Dershowitz: I was not there. (Laughter) I’m not that old.
Leahy: We got that. What we’ve been doing in Tennessee here for three years is we have a little foundation that I set up that holds a Constitution Bee for high school students.
Leahy: For 8th graders to 12th graders. I co-wrote a little book called Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students. And we are holding on October 24 of this year the very first National Constitution Bee here in Brentwood, Tennessee. And I want to invite you to attend. If you would like to attend. We’ll cover your travel down here. Perhaps you might say a few words.
Dershowitz: I can’t do it. My wife won’t let me travel for the moment. But I’ll do it by Zoom. I’m happy to do it by Zoom or Skype.
Leahy: We’ll Zoom you in.
Dershowitz: Yes. Sure. I’d be happy to do it. I love talking to high school students about the Constitution. I have a new book coming out called Cancel Culture: The Newest Attack on Freedom of Speech and Due Process. Kids have to know about the First Amendment and they have to know about due process. They have to know about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It’s so important. So yes, I just put it on my calendar. Just zoom me in and I’ll be there. I’d love to do that.
Leahy: We are delighted.
Swain: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to have you on this morning. I’d gladly give up my time for you. (Leahy laughs)
Dershowitz: (Chuckles) Well thank you. I’m glad to have your comments. Thank you for your positive and encouraging words about my lawsuit. It will be up to jurors to decide I hope. And let’s hope that the jurors understand that it’s in their interest, their interest to make sure the cable news networks remain honest and don’t distort the truth.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alan Dershowitz” by Sage Ross. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “CNN Headquarters” by Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.