CNN host Brian Stelter has yet to wake up to the fact that devoting one’s entire career to bashing President Donald Trump and his supporters is a bad idea, but he showed this weekend that he is actually capable of learning a lesson now and again.
In the wake of Michael Avenatti being convicted of extorting Nike – a conviction that could put the Creepy Porn Lawyer in prison for up to 42 years – Stelter reluctantly admitted that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to present Avenatti as the savior of the Democratic Party. You know, in retrospect.
After telling his panel that he was taking heat from Fox News host Sean Hannity for “once suggesting that I thought Avenatti could be a serious candidate for president,” Stelter asked his friends to exonerate him for his foolishness.
“So give me a media critique,” Stelter said. “Was that stupid on my part? What do you make of how Avenatti was covered by CNN and MSNBC?”
Uh, well, we know you didn’t ask us, Brian, but since you seem curious…you went completely off the rails! You treated this guy as if he were a deus ex machina, lowered from the sky to save the country from the evil Nazi billionaire in the White House. You did no vetting of the guy. You didn’t dive into his background at all. You just put him on the air, hour after hour, day after day, tingling with excitement every time he lured you in with another “Trump and his family are going to jail” teaser.
So yeah, you look a little bit stupid. Sorry, you’re just going to have to live with that.
But Daily Beast writers Lachlan Markey and Asawin Suebsaeng did their best to give Stelter and CNN cover under fire.
“This was a guy, who in many ways, was very similar to Trump,” Markey said of Avenatti. “He really knew how to operate in the modern media environment. And I think that’s what really drew a lot of Trump’s critics to him, was this idea that he could sort of beat Trump at his own game. The question that I think a lot of journalists now have to ask themselves though, is whether by virtue of granting that, they were basically buying into — they were being played by that very strategy, his ability to sort of manipulate the media.”
How is that a question and not just a statement of fact?
Suebsaeng went further: “His crookedness aside, it would have been weird at that time, sort of during the Michael Avenatti boomlet, not to take him seriously, at least, in the form of someone who was getting in the President’s head one way or the other. So, this was a guy who even if he got convicted for all of these things, still had a real-world impact, and that was obviously, objectively speaking, news at the time. So.”
The only thing newsworthy about Avenatti at the time was his representation of Stormy Daniels. We’re not sure how that translates to 487,839 cable news appearances, though. And we’re also not sure how Avenatti can be said to have gotten in Trump’s head. A full search of the president’s twitter turns up exactly one mention of “Avenatti” from September 2018. One mention.
Here it is: “Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships – a total low-life!”
We’d say that’s less a case of Avenatti getting in Trump’s head and more a case of Trump having taken a completely accurate measure of this scumbag – something Brian Stelter failed to do.