Alan Dershowitz And The Wheel Of Pain
October 7, 2019 2:14 PM   Subscribe

On the day Jeffery Epstein died, Alan Dershowitz threatened to sue me. I wrote about it.
So recounts Columbia Journalism Review reporter Lyz Lenz as a sort of lede for her new piece on not just Dershowitz's attempts to regain control of the media narrative around both himself and Jeffery Epstein, but also the techniques of media fixers like Michael Sitrick to do so.

In the piece, Lenz mentions two terms of art in media fixing of note: the "lead steer" - a journalist running a contrarian view that is used to rewrite the media narrative by the fixer; and the aforementioned "wheel of pain" - a targeted variant of the Gish gallop in which details are rapid fired at journalists to overwhelm them and push them to the fixer's view.

Dershowitz previously on the Blue.
posted by NoxAeternum (17 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
He’s a victim here. The real victim.

Fuck that noise. And doublefuck this noise:

“I will keep talking,” he says, “until I die, and then my children will do it for me!”

That’s the point.

It’s a Trumpian ethos. A constant cry of victimhood from the highest echelons of power. The never ceasing voice, shouting and shouting. If you listen you’ll forget the point. If you listen and always react, it’s hard to hear anything at all.

(This is a really good article & the stuff about how PR works is fascinating like a car crash.)
posted by chavenet at 2:24 PM on October 7 [24 favorites]

Lyz is on a roll with some great articles lately. I hope to find time to pick up God Land soon or go see her do a talk/interview.

Joe Biden was just a total asshat to her too in a forum.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:28 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]

Douchowitz has a nice hot cell waiting for him in hell, right next to his buddy Epstein's.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:39 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]

The thing about Lyz Lenz is that she's young and female and conspicuously Midwestern and has kind of a chirpy voice and is kind of a churchy soccer mom, and so people just constantly underestimate her. And that's a mistake, because she does not give a flying fuck about pissing off or impressing powerful people, and she will ask the hard questions that most media sycophants are afraid to ask, and she will keep asking even if powerful people call her names and yell at her. It's glorious. She's kind of my hero.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:07 PM on October 7 [90 favorites]

I'm just putting this here because it's so good:
I find most conspiracies to be intellectually lazy. My father likes to say, when faced with a conspiracy theory, “I have a hard time believing all those idiots could agree on something so complicated.”
posted by mumimor at 3:17 PM on October 7 [81 favorites]

Lenz's article is awesome.

I worked in journalism for a long time and can't recommend Michael Sitrick's book The Fixer enough for anyone interested in how crisis PR works--and judging from Lenz's quick use of "lead steer" and "wheel of pain," it sounds like she's familiar with it too.

The book, which can be purchased online used or new pretty easily, is full of case studies like working with the Michael Jackson Estate, Roy Disney, and a few firms at the center of short selling scandals. While I'm assuming (obviously) there's lots left out of the book, the contents are still amazingly interesting.

Two of the big takeaways on my side:
1. If all else failed, going over a journalist's head to speak with their editor was a frequent occurence. While it didn't work too often for killing stories, it opened the window for more sympathetic coverage of the client's perspective (or getting another journalist assigned to the beat) surprisingly often.
2. From a crisis PR perspective, a PR firm's biggest concern often isn't hostile coverage. Rather, it's a client who refuses to stop talking to the press.

With that said, I know there's going to be a book or a long feature someday written about Theranos or WeWork's crisis PR and I can't wait to read it.
posted by huskerdont at 7:00 PM on October 7 [15 favorites]

This is a terrific article, and a terrific post. Good find NoxAeternum!

On that day in July, Dershowitz seems subdued over the phone. He just wants a fair chance. What he really wants is vindication. But he won’t get that, he suspects, because he’s bold, he’s a liberal who supports Donald Trump.

(Screen turns red, the sirens from the Kill Bill soundtrack begin playing....)
posted by JHarris at 7:08 PM on October 7 [22 favorites]

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!” 

Traditionally, one expects more dignity from the unprincipled ruling elite.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:28 PM on October 7 [15 favorites]

Alan Dershowitz And The Wheel Of Pain

Oh you dirty tease you.  And there I got my hopes up too.   Oh well, one can dream.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:52 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]

he’s a liberal who supports Donald Trump

No matter how many times he makes that claim, it doesn't get any truer.
posted by flaterik at 9:07 PM on October 7 [24 favorites]

It’s a Trumpian ethos. A constant cry of victimhood from the highest echelons of power. The never ceasing voice, shouting and shouting. If you listen you’ll forget the point.

This is so true of Trump's noises. I wish that everyone, and most especially those in the media, understood this and acted on it. If they had done so beginning in 2015 or earlier, the world would be a much better place.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:38 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

what a creepo
posted by growabrain at 6:06 AM on October 8

Traditionally, one expects more dignity from the unprincipled ruling elite.

Traditionally, the commentariat knew better than to report accurately on these sorts of outbursts from their betters.
posted by Etrigan at 6:09 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]

The word "bluster" has an archaic meaning: to "stray blindly or blunderingly, wander aimlessly, go astray".

I am all for those who try the tactic in its current meaning of intimidating onlookers and reporters to be treated as if in the old one from now on.
posted by Quindar Beep at 6:54 AM on October 8

GREAT article, but goddamn if I never hear the name Alan Dershowitz again it will be too soon.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:34 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]

It wasn’t that long ago that he was a highly respected liberal eminance. I’m extremely pleased that his reputation has caught up to where his morality has always been.
posted by moorooka at 4:09 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

And in unsurprising news, Dershowitz's argument that he can't be sued for defamation because he defamed the person long enough was rejected by the court. That said, the judge approving the disqualification Boies Schiller as Giuffre's counsel was questionable.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:36 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

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