Lyz Lenz got the worst obscene phone call ever but at least we get this article out of it:
Alan Dershowitz won’t hang up the phone. He’s breathing heavily into the receiver. It’s August 10, the morning Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. At first Dershowitz wants to go off the record, and I agree. He doesn’t say anything interesting, just the same protestations that he’s made on Twitter and television for years. But when I start asking questions, he begins to berate me. “We’re on the record now,” I tell him. “You don’t get to insult me off the record.”
So he begins breathing into the phone. He will not hang up. He does not know what to say.
“If you don’t want to talk, you can hang up,” I say. “But I am not going off the record if you are just going to call me ‘fifth rate.’”
Silence. Breathing. “I won’t have it written that I hung up on a reporter!” He’s shouting. We do this a couple more times. I take notes. He’s livid that I won’t go off the record. He threatens to sue me. Tells me I am a nobody. My tape recorder is somewhere at the bottom of my purse.
I am talking to Dershowitz because Michael Sitrick, a crisis PR guy who has worked with Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly, thought I should. Sitrick is a fixer who has made a name for himself cleaning up the messes of rich and powerful men (and some women, too).
I am not a professional P.R. fixer for assholes, and yet I have to question the strategy of “get your story out there in your own words as much as possible” in this case:
Dershowitz lobs a series of details. Did I know that another woman who claims that she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz at Epstein’s command, Sarah Ransome, lied and said she had a sex tape with the Clintons?
I did know that, because it’s in the New Yorker profile. In fact, so are the details about Dershowitz filing a complaint with the New York bar against Boies and the fact that the complaint was dismissed. It’s an old tactic, lobbing detail after detail after detail at the media until they are overwhelmed. Sitrick does this, too. He calls it the wheel of pain.
In the world according to Dershowitz, he is a victim. But how can he be a victim when he has the power and the money and the platform. Media outlets cover his every tweet. He has a book which will be out on November 19, proclaiming his innocence and blaming instead the #MeToo movement for his trials. And I am covering this story now because a powerful man called me about his powerful friend. How many stories are made like this? A cycle of media and power, we listen because he yells. He yells because we listen. And whoever gets to shout the loudest is the winner.
You have power and money, I point out to him. You have media coverage, how are you the victim?
“If a powerful woman were raped and she had powerful friends, would they say ‘it’s hard to conceive of you as a victim’? I mean, this is an attempt to destroy my life and my career and my family. Of course I’m a victim. Of course I’m a victim. I’m a victim with resources, and that’s exactly the kind of victim who should fight back.”
“Are you comparing yourself to a rape victim?”
“I’m not making that comparison.”
“You just said that if a powerful woman was raped…”
“I’m saying that anybody who’s a victim of a crime should be speaking out. Let me tell you, if you haven’t experienced four and a half years of being falsely accused of the most heinous crimes imaginable, then it’s very, very hard to be sympathetic, and I understand. But what’s happened to me over the past four and a half years, I’m not comparing it to rape, I’m not comparing it to murder. I’m not comparing it to any other crime. I’m saying it is an extraordinarily serious crime, and a crime that victims should speak out about.”
Yup, definitely sounds like a guy with nothing to hide that had done nothing wrong.