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Why the media wants you to forget about Michael Avenatti

Avenatti became a media celebrity far beyond the cable news screen

February 17, 2020

4:35 PM

17 February 2020

4:35 PM

Attorney and former media darling Michael Avenatti was convicted on two charges of extortion against Nike last Friday.

His fate caused a deathly silence among some of the anti-Trump, cable news anchors who not so long ago were venerating him as a president-in-waiting.

Former GOP ad men who were once flirting with running Avenatti for president were no longer returning phone calls. Avenatti was left abandoned in handcuffs, his invite to this year’s Sag Harbor Soirée lost in the mail. Alas, he’s no longer the holy spirit or the savior of the republic. 

Just a couple of days later, the establishment media — particularly CNN — had found their mea culpa on Avenatti; his months-long stardom was, of course, the fault of President Donald Trump. CNN Contributor Amanda Carpenter suggested, for example, that Avenatti’s 114 CNN appearances would have never occurred had Donald Trump not paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged affair. Brian Stelter, showing a rare moment of unprovoked introspection on his show Reliable Sources, asked author and Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay if he was ‘stupid’ to float Avenatti as a serious presidential contender. Markay opted not to answer the question directly, instead pivoting to argue that Avenatti was the symptom of a larger media culture created by Trump — never mind the fact that the media exploitatively elevates figures like Trump and Avenatti because it helps their ratings. 


CNN handed Michael Avenatti a whopping 107 live interviews in 2018, while MSNBC gave him 81. Avenatti totaled 214 appearances across every network. At one point, MSNBC and CNN carried dueling ‘live’ interviews with Avenatti. But Avenatti’s cable news appearances alone aren’t why the media wants you to forget him — it’s because he was a part of their special anti-Trump club. 

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People come and go on cable news quite frequently — experts, guests, pundits and pols will appear and then disappear, often for unknown reasons. Avenatti’s popularity among the cable news crowd didn’t come so much from the fact that he sat across from Don Lemon on CNN, but because he went beyond the screen and attended Hampton soirees with the likes of Lemon and PBS Firing Line host Margaret Hoover. Avenatti walked red carpets and attended the MTV VMA Awards. On Instagram, White House credentialed reporter April Ryan danced with Avenatti in a gleeful post at a private party. ‘Republican’ strategist Rick Wilson was pictured chewing the fat with Avenatti at various events, while Avenatti spoke at New Hampshire Democratic party picnics and dinners where his remarks were carried on cable news and C-SPAN. 

He attended summit panels hosted by Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox. On The View, he was praised as the lord and savior by Republican strategist and NeverTrumper Ana Navarro. Avenatti even visited Iowa, speaking for the County Iowa Democratic Elected Officials Association at the Iowa State Association of Counties Annual Conference. He fundraised for Democrats in Las Vegas. Kathy Griffin interviewed him at Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

Behind the scenes, Avenatti became an intimate figure with members of the media and pundit elite. He was welcomed into their club with open arms, was hailed in green rooms and on red carpets, and he was propped up by desperate political strategists who have never been able to understand why the Republican party accepted Trump.  

Those that despise Trump the most should take a hard look in the mirror about how we got here, because if the way they behaved around Michael Avenatti is any indicator, they haven’t learned any lessons.


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