Larry Klayman, an anti-Obama birther guy who became suddenly relevant this week when federal judge Richard Leon ruled in his favor against the National Security Administration's bulk surveillance programs, might sue CNN next, after a disastrous appearance on the network to discuss his legal victory. Klayman announced his intention to sue the network in a Thursday interview with World Net Daily, claiming that the segment was a "hit piece orchestrated against me by the Obama White House with the direct involvement of the Democratic National Committee."
Here's basically what happened to make Klayman so litigious in this instance: on Tuesday, Klayman went on CNN to discuss the ruling in his favor, with Don Lemon and Jeffrey Toobin. But Klayman had other points he wanted to make, particularly against Lemon, which resulted in the network ending the segment early — it began with Klayman calling the whole interview a "hit piece," and devolved from there. On Thursday, Klayman said that the interview itself was comparable to Martin Bashir's comments about Sarah Palin, the ones that got him fired. Then he added:
“What Lemon did was classless and sleazy. Lemon is a well-known ultra-leftist African-American political activist who pursues a LGBT sexual agenda.”
According to World Net Daily, Klayman is considering a suit against CNN, claiming that "the network had conspired to ruin his reputation with an interview set up to ambush him on air and marginalize him and his ongoing litigation against the NSA."
In reality, the segment — which Klayman voluntarily participated in, apparently knowing he wasn't facing the most sympathetic of interviewers — was most likely engineered to produce good television, rather than an actual discussion about the constitutionality of the NSA's surveillance programs. Both Toobin and Lemon are critics of Edward Snowden's decision to distribute evidence of those programs to journalists, and Klayman believes that he is leading a second American revolution to overthrow President Obama. These are not the ingredients for a fruitful discussion on the topic.
As we've noted before, Klayman is right about the NSA's constitutional overreach, despite all of his paranoid trimmings. In his ruling, Leon set aside a series of more specific accusations from Klayman against the government, including that the NSA was "messing with me." But Leon ruled that the collection itself violates the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure. If this week's series of events is any indication, it's going to be extremely difficult for many, especially Klayman, to keep that narrative distinction between the constitutional issues at the heart of criticism of the NSA's surveillance programs, and Klayman's paranoid reasons for pursuing a case against those programs. Hopefully, the courts will be able to keep it straight for the rest of us.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.