Eric Alterman: Says Alan Dershowitz lied to him

Historians in the News

Arianna is profiled, quite favorably, in Fortune this week, here. And yet, in the piece, I read the following accusation by Alan Dershowitz:

At the same time, she does not promise that what is submitted will always run, a fact that has drawn the ire of Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. He became a regular contributor last year, but claims Huffington's editors started vetting his posts and then refused to run a column he submitted recently because it conflicted with the site's hard-left editorial line on Israel.

Huffington denies that, explaining instead that her editors wanted the column reworked because of Dershowitz's attacks on Norman Finkelstein, a controversial political scientist with whom Dershowitz has feuded.

"We are not prepared, for a variety of reasons, to host bloggers' personal attacks on others ... whether or not they're true," editor Colin Sterling wrote in an e-mail to Dershowitz's assistant. "We'd be happy to look at a revised version that takes this into account."

Dershowitz e-mailed back: "The point can't be made without telling the truth about Finkelstein. I have read dozens of ad hominem attacks against right wingers on your blog. Methinks thou has a double standard! I will post it elswhere [sic] where a real marketplace of ideas exists."

In an e-mail to me, Huffington includes links to other posts about Israel on her site that she says give all sides. "This had absolutely nothing to do with his position on Israel," she wrote (suddenly sounding very unbloggy), "but rather our desire not to have the Huffington Post become a forum for unending personal battles and potentially libelous charges."

Allow me to shed some light on this particular incident, as well as on Dershowitz's obsession with claiming that everyone in the world is anti-Israel except for him, Marty Peretz, Norman Podhoretz, and (possibly) Abe Foxman.

When I was doing Altercation on MSNBC, HuffPo, which had just started up, used to run it in its entirety, which MSNBC was good enough to allow. Everything that ran on MSNBC ran on HuffPo, automatically, with no-editing that I could discern. Then one day something didn't run. It was a post that termed Alan Dershowitz a "liar." Now, make no mistake; in addition to being a liar, Alan Dershowitz is also lawyer who likes to sue people (insert lawyer/liar joke as desired). I would not risk calling him a "liar" unless I were absolutely certain I could prove it. I have no interest in lawsuits, even ones that I win, because I'd be paying my own legal fees (I imagine). The reason I am certain enough to write this here today is because I have Dershowitz on tape, lying. It's a bizarre situation so follow carefully.

A long time ago, when I was an (overpaid) contract writer for Elle, I profiled Dershowitz. I wrote an extremely gentle profile because, believe it or not, I found him likeable and charming, and was surprised by this. The two criticisms I leveled were that Dershowitz loses all judgment and perspective when it comes to two topics -- unfortunately, these are also his favorite topics -- himself and Israel. (In some ways, they are also the same topic, but that's another story.)

When the piece came out, Dershowitz denied his quotes and insisted that I had actually told him that I planned to lie about him. Here's the really weird part. I was not merely taping the conversation in question -- I was about to run for the airport and had originally forgotten the question, so I had taken out my tape recorder and was holding it in front of his face. So Dershowitz was lying about a conversation that had taken place while he was speaking directly into a tape recorder. What's more he was lying about my calling myself a liar. What's more, he was proving the point of my piece, which was that he lacked all judgment when it came to issues related to Alan Dershowitz (and Israel). I can produce the tape at any time if Alan has a problem with this story, which, by the way, ran on Page Six, believe it or not, with no further objections from the liar, Dershowitz.

Now Dershowitz is claiming that he was censored by the Arab-lovers over at Arianna's house. But of course, I was no less "censored" for pointing out that Dershowitz is a liar. And I can prove my case. But the fact is, Colin Sterling was telling the truth. HuffPo does not allow attacks on other bloggers even when they are demonstrably true. And this proves once again, the hollowness of the whining of the likes of Dershowitz, et al, that if anyone disagrees with them, it's because they hate Israel. Their purpose is censorship, pure and simple....

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