Dershowitz: CNN’s Amanpour equating terrorists and victims is ‘beneath contempt’, working on lawsuit

Rabbi Leo Dee, who said he is considering suing CNN for $1.3 billion, has retained the attorney and former Harvard Law school professor on a pro bono basis.

By David Swindle, JNS

Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international anchor, apologized live on air on May 22 to Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife, Lucy Dee, and two of his daughters—Maia, 20, and Rina, 15—were shot and killed in early April after terrorists shot at them while driving through the Jordan Valley.

Last week, Amanpour referred to the incident as a “shootout” rather than a targeted “shooting.” The news anchor said she “misspoke” and conveyed her apology to Dee.

Dee has said that he is considering suing CNN for $1.3 billion. Alan Dershowitz, attorney and emeritus professor at Harvard Law School, confirmed to JNS that he has been retained to represent Dee on a pro bono basis.

Dershowitz told JNS that Dee called and asked him to look into a potential lawsuit. “I think what Christiane Amanpour did was beneath contempt. I also don’t think it was a slip or an accident,” Dershowitz said. “I think it’s part of a long pattern of equating terrorists and their victims morally.”

The attorney added that he and the rabbi are “exploring various options.” He also answered several questions from JNS.

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Responses have been lightly edited for style.

Q: You’re still considering a lawsuit, even though she’s apologized?

A: Oh, yes. The apology doesn’t negate the lawsuit. The apology was a very grudging apology. Basically, she first tried to apologize privately, but when he wouldn’t accept the apology privately, she was essentially forced to make this grudging apology on the air.

That may have some impact on damages, but it certainly doesn’t have any legal impact. What she said was defamatory. The rabbi and his family are not public figures. So there’s no malice requirement. The only requirement is that she said something that was false. And it was false. That’s defamation.

It also caused enormous emotional harm. There are various questions that arise: Where to bring a lawsuit? Who is the plaintiff in the lawsuit? What is the precise nature of the legal claim? Those are all issues that are being explored.