On Monday, Sean Hannity walked himself right into an awkward comparison.
It happened after the bombshell revelation in a Manhattan courtroom that Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s client list included the Fox News Channel host. On his afternoon radio show, Hannity explained that his relationship with Cohen was limited to a few “brief discussions” about business matters.
“I might have handed him 10 bucks [and said,] ‘I definitely want your attorney-client privilege on this,’ ” Hannity told listeners Monday afternoon. “Something like that.”
Online, the “handed him 10 bucks” line immediately launched comparisons to an infamous scene from AMC’s smash hit “Breaking Bad.”
In a memorable exchange, one of the shadiest lawyers in television history, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the show’s meth-dealing main characters to “put a dollar in my pocket” to ensure that their conversations about criminal misdeeds remain protected.
And if you are trying to steer clear of a scandal, it’s best if your legal thinking does not echo the “Breaking Bad” lawyer, who later became the protagonist of the prequel, “Better Call Saul.”
But both “Breaking Bad” and Hannity’s conception of attorney-client privilege seem to rest on a faulty understanding of the legal concept. In a 2015 article in the New Mexico Law Review, Armen Adzhemyan and Susan M. Marcella compared the popular show’s presentation of the law with the reality of federal court, including what the pair called the “myth of the dollar bill.”
“Saul has a habit of grossly overstating the reach of the attorney-client privilege,” the two authors wrote.
The famous scene between Goodman, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman appears in the show’s second season, in the eighth episode, titled “Better Call Saul.” Hoping to intimidate one of the attorney’s clients, White and Pinkman kidnap Goodman at gunpoint, bind his wrists and take him out into the desert.
But in true sleazy lawyer fashion, Goodman flips the script, instead offering advice on the pair’s criminal enterprise.
“First things first, you’re gonna put a dollar in my pocket, both of you,” Goodman tells them. “You want attorney-client privilege, don’t you? So that everything you say is strictly between us? I mean it, put a dollar in my pocket, make it official.”
The New Yorker, Daily Cartoon: Tuesday, April 17th
Lights. Camera. Fiction!”