Alan Dershowitz v. ‘The Good Fight’: ‘Shyster Is a Cheap Shot’

The name calling took place in an episode that was dedicated to his former client, Jeffrey Epstein.
"The Good Fight"
"The Good Fight"

Alan Dershowitz, the outspoken former lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein, is threatening to sue ViacomCBS over an episode of “The Good Fight” that centered on his client, the late billionaire and convicted sex offender.

Variety reported that Dershowitz, who served on Epstein’s legal team and helped ensure that Epstein only spent 18 months in prison via a plea deal in 2008, took issue with a recently aired Season 4 episode of the CBS All Access legal drama, in which fictional characters referred to Dershowitz several times, including calling him a “shyster.”

On July 17, Dershowitz’s lawyers sent CBS and several individuals connected to “The Good Fight” a letter demanding the streaming service remove the episode’s Dershowitz-centered content, desist from airing other allegedly defamatory content in the future, and to issue a public apology to Dershowitz. ViacomCBS declined the request in a letter on Friday.

“If we understand your letter correctly, you are complaining about a line spoken by a fictional character, in an episode of the fictional series ‘The Good Fight,’” ViacomCBS lawyers stated in the letter obtained by Variety. “You make this complaint on behalf of Professor Alan Dershowitz, a public figure who has long been associated with Jeffrey Epstein, and who has admitted on television to receiving a massage from a woman at Epstein’s mansion.”

“…In other words, as one might explain to a small child, the Series, its characters and the things they say are all make-believe. People don’t watch the Series for factual information about Professor Dershowitz or anyone else. Although the Series is a work of fiction, its writers strive for accuracy when referring to people or events from the real world. When it comes to Professor Dershowitz getting a massage at Epstein’s house, the writers were spot-on.”

A representative for ViacomCBS declined to comment. In a phone interview with IndieWire, Dershowitz argued that “The Good Fight” was mixing fiction with non-fiction and said the show’s “shyster” comment amounted to defamation, regardless of the term being used by a fictional character.

“I’ve been practicing law for 55 years and never had a bar complaint against me, so to call me a shyster is a cheap shot,” Dershowitz said. “The reason I am doing this is because I think there is an important legal precedent involved where they can create a fictional account of a true event [with] a fictional character defaming a real person. If they had Donald Duck saying I robbed a bank, I’d sue The Walt Disney Company. Everybody knows Donald Duck is fictional but the statement is still defamatory.”

Per the letter from Dershowitz’s lawyer, “The Good Fight” episode also contains words such as “massage,” “Epstein,” and “Virgin Islands,” which the letter argued “falsely suggests that Professor Dershowitz engaged in sexual conduct.” Dershowitz is one of several prominent men with ties to Epstein — others include Prince Andrew and presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, among others — who has been accused of sexual misconduct. Epstein and his alleged conspirators have been accused of sexually assaulting women and girls during various “massage” sessions.

Dershowitz, who has publicly argued for lowering age of consent laws and has questioned the legitimacy of statutory rape laws, said he did not take issue with “The Good Fight” noting that he received a massage at Epstein’s house. He said he was primarily concerned with the show’s use of the word “shyster.”

“They have a perfect right to state that I had a massage. I did. From a professional middle-aged masseuse. I have never in my life had an erotic massage,” Dershowitz said.

Variety’s “The Good Fight” report was published several hours after several hundred pages of 2015 court documents were unsealed regarding Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently arrested for allegedly serving as a sex trafficker for Epstein. In one of the documents — which contained previously reported information — one of Epstein’s accusers alleged that Dershowitz, Prince Andrew, and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson were among the notable men who attained her services.

Dershowitz told IndieWire that he was “thrilled” that the Maxwell court documents were unsealed, and said he had demanded the release of those documents. He argued they contain manuscripts that prove his innocence.

Dershowitz also served on O.J. Simpson’s defense team and helped secure his acquittal. He served as a consultant on Harvey Weinstein’s legal team in 2018 and, most recently, joined Trump’s legal team when the president faced impeachment charges in early 2020.

Dershowitz and his lawyer’s letter to ViacomCBS, as well as the latter’s response, can be viewed in full via Variety.

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