Dershowitz’s Defamation Lawsuit Survives CNN’s Motion to Dismiss

“Santiago, Chile – February, 23, 2011: CNN home page, one of the most importan global news sites on the web. CNN debuted its news website (initially an experiment known as CNN Interactive) on August 30, 1995.”

On May 25th, 2021, U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal of the Southern District of Florida held that Alan Dershowitz’s $300 million defamation suit against CNN could proceed. Dershowitz, a famous lawyer known for helping Trump and other far-right politicians, filed the $300 million defamation suit against CNN on September 15th, 2020.

The complaint concerned CNN’s coverage of his legal representation of former President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial. According to the September 15th complaint, Dershowitz alleged that CNN repeatedly played an edited version of his statements so that the network’s hosts and panelists could criticize his comments as “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”

Dershowitz claimed that CNN spun his words to make it seem like he told Congress that the president had free rein to do anything, including illegal acts, to further his reelection if he believed his reelection was in the public’s interest.

CNN filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the “fair report privilege” protected the broadcasts, but Judge Singhal disagreed.

Agreeing with Dershowitz, Judge Singhal held that even though CNN played Dershowitz’s entire response to the question from Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the network’s broadcast was not an accurate representation of Dershowitz’s response. The broadcast left out a critical part of Dershowitz’s response when he stated that “the only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were somehow illegal.”

Since the broadcasts did not present a fair and accurate representation of Dershowitz’s remarks, Judge Singhal held that CNN could not avail itself of the fair report privilege. The Florida District Court judge also concluded that the statements made by CNN’s commentators were not constitutionally protected pure opinions but instead were “mixed expression of opinions” that could be found to be defamatory.

Dershowitz is represented by Brian M. Rodier of Rodier & Rodier PA.

CNN is represented by Katherine M. Bolger and Amanda B. Levine of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and George S. LeMieux and Eric C. Edison of Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA.

The case is Dershowitz v. Cable News Network Inc., case number 0:20-cv-61872, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling defamation law cases, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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