“He blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle.”
Before Michael Avenatti was an alleged con man, he was a media darling – and conservatives have the receipts to prove it.
Since federal prosecutors in New York announced Wednesday that they were charging Avenatti for allegedly ripping off porn star Stormy Daniels and for allegedly trying to extort Nike, the right has unleashed a barrage of commentary and, most damningly, clips of Avenatti being celebrated on cable TV.
The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra resurfaced a clip of Avenatti appearing last September on Brian Stelter’s CNN show “Reliable Sources.” Stelter told the celebrity lawyer that he was taking him “seriously” as a 2020 presidential contender partly “because of your presence on cable news.”
CNN's Brian Stelter last year on Michael Avenatti running for president: "And looking ahead to 2020, one reason I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.” pic.twitter.com/2Wn2bX17kx
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) May 22, 2019
Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec took Twitter users back to November 2018, when Avenatti co-hosted ABC’s “The View.” At one point in the talk show, Ana Navarro compared her fellow guest host to a manifestation of God.
“Lately, to me, you’re like the Holy Spirit. You are all places at all times,” she gushed. “I mean, I do — I see you all over cable news, I see — there’s a seat available if you want to be a co-host at ‘The View.'”
FLASHBACK: Ana Navarro Compared Michael Avenatti to the Holy Spirit https://t.co/7bTVSLaqUD
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 22, 2019
Michael Doran, a researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute think tank, was one of many conservatives to retweet a Washington Free Beacon compilation of the media’s greatest Avenatti-themed hits. Doran suggested: “[L]ets take a walk down memory lane and remember him in happier times, when he was ready to save the nation.”
Michael Avenatti was charged today for stealing from Stormy. I prefer not to think of him like this. Instead, let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember him in happier times, when he was ready to save the nation. pic.twitter.com/MBVZzw09qn
— Mike (@Doranimated) May 23, 2019
Meanwhile, some recalled that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson took a very different tack when he finally got Avenatti to come on his show in September. In a moment that now looks somewhat prescient, the host accused his guest of exploiting Daniels.
Tucker called it.
"Stormy Daniels is working at strip clubs.. people are throwing things at her.. you're wearing a thousand dollar suit, why are you not paying her?.. You're exploiting her and you know that!"
— Austen Fletcher (@fleccas) May 22, 2019
According to NewsBusters, Avenatti made 147 appearances on broadcast and cable news shows during a 10-week period in spring 2018. That number included 74 interviews with CNN, which the conservative media monitor said was the network’s most generous allocation of air time ever to a single person. Avenatti also appeared 57 times on MSNBC.
Avenatti got his foot in the door by representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in a lawsuit she filed last year seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Donald Trump’s then-lawyer in exchange for $130,000. But he soon became something of a liberal icon for his anti-Trump tough talk and feminist posturing.
In a statement Wednesday, the Justice Department said that Avenatti had been indicted on charges of fraud and aggravated identity theft. Among other alleged crimes, he is accused of forging Daniels’ signature to steal money from her book deal. He allegedly went on to spend the cash on a Ferrari and other personal and business expenses.
Separately, the Justice Department said it charged Avenatti with extortion “relating to his alleged attempt to extract more than $20 million in payments from Nike, Inc., by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”
Avenatti has denied all the allegations against him.
For those wondering if Avenatti’s fall will be a gut-check for the media – or a repeat of the aftermath of the Covington and Trump-Russia collusion stories – Stelter’s daily newsletter on Wednesday offered a hint. As conservative commentator Stephen Miller noted, Avenatti did not get a mention.
However, the media critic did find space to weigh in on celebrity holograms.
After over a hundred appearances on his network, and calling him a serious presidential candidate, and reports of bullying production staff members, and oh yeah, more indictments, there are exactly zero mentions of Avenatti in the @brianstelter newsletter. This made it in tho: pic.twitter.com/jAunv3PPgd
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) May 23, 2019