Alan Dershowitz, whose smiling face is part of a viral Fox News video of Laura Ingraham and John Yoo smearing decorated war hero Alexander Vindman, wants everyone to know he really hates such smears – yet he refrained from a word of criticism about the Fox News smearers.
Here’s what Ingraham and Yoo said as news broke that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army and the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council would provide damaging testimony to the impeachment inquiry the next day:
INGRAHAM: [G]et this, this is buried in the New York Times piece tonight, but I found it very interesting.
He's a decorated colonel, by the way, in the Iraq War -- but because Col. Vindman emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him, about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.
Now, wait a second, John. Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president's interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn't that kind of an interesting angle on this story?
JOHN YOO: I find that astounding, and in -- you know, some people might call that espionage, but it doesn't actually seem to add any new facts to what we know.
Dershowitz did not take part in the smears but he smiled and snickered and followed up by suggesting the White House legal team should hire Yoo because he’s such a Constitutional expert.
Now that the clip has gone viral and the attacks have been widely condemned, Dershowitz has written a column in the New York Daily News, called, “Vindman is a patriot. Republicans must stop their smears”:
At the time, I had never heard of Vindman and didn’t really understand what the other panelist was saying. Had I been asked whether Vindman committed espionage, I would have responded as I always do, by criticizing partisan efforts to weaponize the criminal justice system against political opponents. But I wasn’t asked.
Dershowitz next references his tweet that indeed called Vindman a patriot. But while Dershowitz states in his column and suggests in his tweet that he would have responded “by criticizing partisan efforts” to smear Vindman, Dershowitz has not actually said a critical word about those who did so in front of him.
I don't believe that Vindman is guilty of espionage or other crimes. The report is wrong in attributing the views of one panelist to the “panel”. Vindman is a patriot who served his country. I've long opposed the criminalization of political differences.https://t.co/4AoLxfS6s5— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) October 29, 2019
Dershowitz’s column continued with a description of his apology on Newsmax TV and maybe a desire to apologize on Fox. However, he never explicitly states an apology in the column. Frankly, he sounds more self-justifying than remorseful.
I then sought an opportunity to go on TV to set the record straight. On Newsmax TV that afternoon, I praised Vindman and explained and apologized for my silence. I asked Fox to have me on again to express my positive views of him. I will continue to do so at every opportunity.
After arguing that Vindman’s testimony didn’t move the needle on impeachment, Dershowitz wrote this (emphases are mine):
The unfortunate attack on Vindman is a symptom of a deep malignancy which threatens our body politic. Personal attacks from both sides have become the norm. If someone is perceived as being on the “wrong” side of the impeachment debate or of helping or hurting one side, the other side immediately engages in ad hominem attacks on their patriotism and character.
In that case, Mr. Dershowitz, why do you go on shows like The Ingraham Angle and Hannity, knowing that personal attacks are the stock in trade of Fox News prime time? Even without knowing anything about Lt. Col. Vindman, it could not have been clearer that Ingraham and Yoo were baselessly smearing him.
I know that hindsight is 20/20 but I have yet to see you challenge anyone on Fox News about their part in the “deep malignancy that threatens our body politic.” For that matter, when can we expect you to stand up and challenge Donald Trump’s rhetoric? If he isn’t the poster child for that “deep malignancy,” then nobody is. I find it nearly impossible to believe you haven’t noticed.
There’s still time to do the right thing and stop going along with the right-wing smear machine.
In case anyone missed it, here is the October 28, 2019 segment from The Ingraham Angle in which Ingraham and Yoo baselessly smeared Vindman as anti-American, as Dershowitz smiled and snickered. It’s via Media Matters.