Meghan McCain, one of the stars of the widely watched TV show, “The View,” has demanded that I be censored and denied access to television because I was “accused” of sexual misconduct. Here is what she said on the view:
“I also don’t think that people like Alan Dershowitz should be on TV right now while they’re being accused of being involved,” she declared. “A lot of people have a lot to answer for.”
McCain knows, because I appeared on her show, that I have disproved the accusation on which she bases her claim. I have demonstrated that it would have been impossible for me to have been in the places that my accuser falsely claims to have had sexual relations with me. The documented truth is that I never met this woman.
Her own lawyer after reviewing my travel records, told me in a recorded conversation that it would have been “impossible” for me to have been in those locations during the relevant time period and that his client — my false accuser — is “wrong … simply wrong” in accusing me. A thorough investigation by the former director of the FBI also established my complete innocence. Finally, my accuser has a long history of lying about, and falsely accusing, prominent people. In exchange for $160,000, she told the Daily Mail that she vividly recalls two dinners with President Clinton on Jeffrey Epstein’s island, in which Clinton and Epstein were joined by young, perhaps underage, females. She also claimed to have met former Vice President Al Gore and his then-wife Tipper on Epstein’s island. But Secret Service records established that Clinton was never on the island. Neither Al Gore nor his wife were ever on the island. Indeed, they don’t even know Epstein — a fact that could have easily been ascertained by my accuser’s lawyer David Boies who represented Gore.
But despite all this overwhelming evidence of my innocence, Meghan McCain believes that an accusation, even a false one, is sufficient to censor me and ban me from television. Apparently she feels that sexual assault is so heinous a crime, that even innocence should not be accepted as a defense. An accusation is enough even if demonstrably false and made by a serial liar.
Imagine what America would be like if McCain’s rule became the norm. Every accused person would be presumed guilty and shut down. Our traditional presumption of innocence would be reversed and a presumption of guilt would be substituted. That is the norm in today’s China, Iran, Venezuela, and other totalitarian nations that do not operate under the rule of law.
I am sure Meghan McCain would respond by saying that her rule should not apply to all cases, but only to allegations of sexual abuse made by women. But there is no such limiting principle. Once an accusation — even a demonstrably false one — becomes the basis for punitive actions including censorship, there will be no stopping the march toward abolishing the presumption of innocence.
Accepting Meghan McCain’s rule would encourage false accusations against political enemies in an effort to censor them. One virulently anti-Israel website acknowledged this weaponization of accusations when it wrote the following: “We have picked up news about the sexual allegations against Dershowitz because Dershowitz is such an outspoken supporter of Israel and the matter has inevitably affected his influence in the foreign policy arena.” Others have told me that they are happy that I am being accused because it will silence my voice when it comes to defending the legal rights of President Trump. If an accusation becomes enough to silence a controversial speaker, the inevitable result will be the increased weaponization of false accusations.
Today I am the victim of a false accusation. Tomorrow it could be you or one of Meghan McCain’s friends or relatives. I would have expected Meghan McCain to be more sensitive to the dangers of false accusations based on her own family history. In 2008 according to The New York Times, Meghan McCain’s own father — the late great Senator John McCain — was accused of sexual misconduct for an alleged relationship with a lobbyist 30 years his junior. I do not recall Meghan McCain calling for her father to be barred from television for an accusation, which may well have been untrue. There is, of course, no comparison between an alleged affair with a young lobbyist and an accusation of sex with an under aged female, but the charges against Senator McCain were made while he was seeking the presidency and were thus quite serious.
As a young man I lived through an age in which accusations were deemed sufficient to keep someone off television and other media. That age was called McCarthyism. Meghan McCain’s rule would return us to a terrible time in our history.
So let us maintain the presumption of innocence for all. Let not accusations be equated with convictions. Let’s assure that every accused person is accorded the due process right to disprove the accusation.
I hope Meghan McCain, who I admire, will reconsider her thoughtless demand that I be banned from television on the basis of an accusation that has been thoroughly disproved and discredited.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of "Trumped Up, How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy." Read more reports from Alan M. Dershowitz – Click Here Now.
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