Put simply, CNN has a porn problem. For the so-called “Facts First” network, the President’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels has become their new missing Malaysian plane with exhaustive coverage and speculation. CNN took it to another level on Saturday, devoting roughly 41 minutes to her Friday performance at a Florida strip club.
While correspondent Nick Valencia was on-camera for CNN, politics and media reporter Hadas Gold published on Sunday (and updated on Monday) a 1,500-word-plus expose on Stormy’s exploits, her song choices, howling audience members, and quotes about how the mediastorm has changed her porn career.
Valencia first popped up on New Day: Saturday in the 7:00 a.m. Eastern hour:
Well, according to her team, we should start there, this is not her idea to have this tour. This is just part of a regular dance performances that she's already scheduled. The clubs have a different take on that. But here last night, we came down to see her first live performance since she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles superior court over this non-disclosure agreement which she says is now null and void.
He explained that there were “about 200 people” there and touted the exclusive interview he (and Gold) scored with the first clip of Daniels touting how she’s “getting more dance bookings” and “that's been really great, but because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting, and lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.”
The nearly four-minute spot was followed by a similar spot in the next hour, but Valencia rolled out the full audio-only interview with Daniels (who’s real name is Stephanie Clifford) in a six-minute segment just after 10:00 a.m. Eastern flaunting her porn career and life over the last few weeks.
Once again, this is who CNN has become and no, this is not normal. To see the full interview, check out the transcript at the bottom of the post.
Valencia continued to document all the action at the Fort Lauderdale-area strip with either a live shot or soundbites from his interview appearing on CNN every hour from the 7:00 a.m. Eastern to 7:00 p.m. Eastern hours. The only exceptions were when Michael Smerconish’s live show aired at 10:00 a.m. and then taped at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
In the 2:00 p.m. hour, Valencia reported that Daniels “has become a big attraction, that’s a perfect way to put it” with a high school history teacher flying in from Texas to “witness what he called history.”
“It is about 200 people inside, and, you know, there was a buzz about the crowd inside, the atmosphere was very electric. She had a very revealing performance, I should say, and she left the fans clapping. There was a lot of money thrown around, and she was happy by the end of the night,” Valencia concluded.
As for Gold, the smutty piece observed a plane pulling a Daniels advertisement over Pompano Beach ahead of an afternoon sprinkle:
The winds picked up and slow, heavy raindrops started to fall as beachgoers gathered their belongings to seek cover, some of whom chuckled while taking photos of the banner.
It was about to get stormy.
A few hours later, the rain had passed. But Stormy Daniels was in full force, meeting her fans in the presidential suite of the Solid Gold strip club in between performances.
Gold reported that “there was no mistaking the extra buzz and publicity surrounding Daniels at the Solid Gold” with the strip club stating in another advertisement: “We the people of the United States present Stormy Daniels, this P*ssy grabs back Mr. President world tour.”
“Screens around the club advertised Daniels' performance with revealing photos and the slogan ‘#MAGA -- Make Adult Great Again’ in the hours leading up to the main event, as the club's house dancers entertained patrons on the one main stage, on smaller stages around the club, on their laps or in private rooms,” Gold observed.
Gold spent the next five degrading paragraphs describing in graphic detail the music and wardrobe choices for the porn star. Here's an excerpt:
In minutes, though, Daniels has removed the multiple layers of her costume interspersed with moves that show off her flexibility. Each act ends with her gyrating on a black fleece blanket, spraying herself and patrons with liquid from a squeeze bottle, and for a price, giving a lucky few a face full of herself.
While Daniels collected dead presidents on stage, the current one was on everyone's mind, partly because his doppelgänger was present.
There’s more where that came from, but the point being that this marked another small nail in the coffin of CNN’s credibility, debasing itself by sending two serious journalists to graphically chronicle Daniels going nude and giving her a platform to discuss her porn career.
To see the relevant transcript from three of Valencia’s live shots on March 10, click “expand.”
CNN’s New Day: Saturday
March 10, 2018
7:01 a.m. Eastern
CHRISTI PAUL: And this morning, another twist in the Stormy Daniels saga.
VICTOR BLACKWELL: Yes, we now know President Trump's Personal Attorney, Michael Cohen, used his official Trump organization e-mail and signature while arranging that $130,000 payment to keep the porn star quiet about an alleged affair between herself and Mr. Trump.
PAUL: And Stormy, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, spoke with CNN last night and sort of addressed the issue.
STORMY DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear that with the new developments comes new interest.
BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia is live in Fort Lauderdale where Stormy just made a stop on her — ah — tour. I'm going to leave a name of the tour to you this morning, Nick. What is Stormy saying?
NICK VALENCIA: Well, according to her team, we should start there, this is not her idea to have this tour. This is just part of a regular dance performances that she's already scheduled. The clubs have a different take on that. But here last night, we came down to see her first live performance since she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles superior court over this non-disclosure agreement which she says is now null and void because the President of the United States, the man she's accused of having an alleged affair with, did not sign that document. Now, she performed in front of about 200 people last night, and we did not think — in fact, we were told explicitly she would not be talking to the media. But after here performance, she had and meet and greet, and it was then that she agreed to an interview. She didn't want to talk about the litigation, in fact, she said she had no comment for the President, but she did talk about how this alleged affair with the President is affecting her.
DANIELS: Sort of in a double-edged sword where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So, I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now, I'm dancing three or four times a month. So, that's been really great, but because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting, and lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.
VALENCIA: Now, Daniels gives this interview less than 24 hours after we've learned that Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of the President, used his professional e-mail address to communicate with Stormy Daniels' attorney. They — well, Michael Cohen is saying this is not a blockbuster development, he uses his professional e-mail address to communicate for personal reasons all the time and released a statement here saying — I'm going to read part of that saying: “The use of my company e-mail to communicate with the bank and Ms. Clifford’s former counsel proves absolutely nothing despite the less- than-convinced comments offered by Mr. Avenatti [her former attorney]. I used this e-mail address for virtually everything, as many people do.” Now, the attorney for Ms. Daniels is saying that this is not the case, he calling his bluff — calling Mr. Cohen's bluff, saying that this is further proof that he wasn't acting in a personal capacity or in a freelance capacity, but rather an official one for the President.
MICHAEL AVENATTI [on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, 03/09/18]: If, in fact, the payment was being made personally by Attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office open in order to effectuate the payment.
VALENCIA: There's a lot of anxiety, we're told, in the White House that this story is now beginning to overshadow the day-to-day operations of the President. For her part, Ms. Stormy Daniels is scheduled to perform here at the Solid Gold Gentlemen's Club here in Pompano Beach later today. The story showing no signs of going away any time soon, guys.
BLACKWELL: Alright. Nick Valencia for us there in Fort Lauderdale. You know, some — just the details of this story, I — we were supposed to say the name of this tour —
PAUL: I couldn't believe you didn't do it —
BLACKWELL: I just couldn't — I couldn't say it. I mean, some of the tawdry elements of what is happening, test some of the bounds that we have for ourselves.
PAUL: Yes, it does. We came into work today and said, this is what we're talking about. This is what we're talking about.
BLACKWELL: Will we stay or will we — alright.
8:01 a.m. Eastern
PAUL: We have a new interview with Stormy Daniels. She spoke with CNN last night amid all of the chaos that's going on in the saga involving some new e-mails as well.
BLACKWELL: And she is continuing her tour. Her lawyer is out now exposing a new e-mail that shows President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used his official Trump Organization e-mail account and signature while he was arranging that $130,000 payment to keep Daniels quiet about an alleged affair between her and Mr. Trump.
PAUL: She addressed the topic last night. Listen to this.
DANIELS: I think it is pretty clear that with the new developments comes new interest.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to Nick Valencia in Fort Lauderdale. Nick, the music a bit tells us where you were last night for this interview. What else are you learning?
VALENCIA Well, we were here last night, Victor, to see Stormy Daniels' first performance since this week's lawsuit she filed against the president, the man she has accused of her alleged having an affair with. She performed in front of about 200 people last night and we were told that explicitly that we would not get a chance to talk to her, to not even think about asking her any questions, but after her performance, she held a meet and greet, and it was then that she agreed to an audio only interview so long as we didn't talk about the litigation and I asked her about President Trump, something she didn't want to talk about. In fact, she said no comment, but she did talk about how this alleged affair with the President is affecting her career.
DANIELS: Sort of in a double-edged sword where a lot of people are interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So, I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once month. Now I'm dancing three or four times a month, so that's been really great, but because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting and a lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.
VALENCIA: Daniels went on to tell me that it is the insults and flat out lies of her being financially broke that really affected her the most. And this interview comes to us after about 24 hours after we've learned that Michael Cohen used his professional White House account to communicate with Daniels' attorneys over this non-disclosure agreement, a bungled attempt at keeping her silent after her alleged affair with the president. Michael Cohen says that that is not blockbuster that he uses his professional e-mail for personal interactions all the time. However, Stormy Daniels' attorney has a different take on it.
AVENATTI: If, in fact, the payment was being made personally by Attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office open in other to effectuate the payment.
VALENCIA: Now, Stormy's attorney says that this is further proof that he was not acting in a freelance role or an individual capacity but on behalf of the president. Cohen denies that saying that he did not violate any campaign finance reform laws or any campaign finance laws, but this story, guys, shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Stormy Daniels for her part is expected to perform here again at the Solid Gold Room here in Florida later tonight — guys.
BLACKWELL: Alright. Nick Valencia. Michael Cohen admitting there that he used his trumporg.com e-mail address, not a White House address. He wasn't in the White House. Nick Valencia there for us in Fort Lauderdale, thank you so much.
CNN Newsroom with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell
10:00 a.m. Eastern
PAUL: And this morning Stormy Daniels in her own words speaking for the first time to CNN after filing a lawsuit against the president.
BLACKWELL: We'll get to what she said in just a moment. But first, there's also a significant new twist in this saga. We now know President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used his official Trump organization e-mail account and signature while arranging that $130,000 payment to keep the porn star quiet about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.
PAUL: Stormy's lawyer goes on to argue Mr. Cohen went to his office that was closed at the time to send that e-mail from his Trump Organization domain. Listen to this.
AVENATTI: If, in fact, the payment was being made personally by attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office opened in order to effectuate the payment.
BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia is live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with more. Nick, what have you learned?
VALENCIA: Michael Cohen is responding to that statement, saying this is not a blockbuster development, that he uses his Trump Organization e-mail, his professional e-mail all the time for personal matters. Here's what he said in a statement: “The use of my company e-mail to communicate with a bank and Miss Clifford's former counsel proves absolutely nothing despite the less than convincing comments offered by Mr. Avenatti. I used this e-mail address for virtually everything as many people do.” Michael Cohen has been accused by Stormy Daniels for trying to keep her silent. In fact, it was earlier this week that she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles superior court over a non-disclosure agreement between this alleged affair that she had with President Donald Trump. She says that Michael Cohen is trying to keep her silent but she's doing anything but. It was last night that she performed here at the Solid Gold Gentlemen's Club in Pompano Beach, Florida, and we were told that she wasn't going to be conducting any media interviews, in fact that we shouldn't even ask her any questions. But all that changed after her performance. It was then that she agreed to an audio only interview with CNN so long as we didn't talk about the litigation. I did, however, ask her about how this has all affected her and if she had any message for President Donald Trump.
VALENCIA: So what has this done for your career?
DANIELS: It's sort of been a double-edged sword where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now I'm dancing three or four times a month. So that's been really great. But because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult film that's I'm supposed to be promoting. And a lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.
VALENCIA: You've gotten a lot of attention, some of it some negative attention. How do you — how you are handling everything?
DANIELS: I've been in the adult business for 17 years. So to make it that long in that business, you have to have a really tough skin and so it's most of it rolls off my shoulders because it's an opinion. Like you think I'm a whore or I'm ugly or I'm old or I'm fat or my boobs are too big or too small, whatever. I’ve heard there’s nothing along those lines that someone can say to me that I haven't heard and so when someone says hey, you're a whore, I'm like that is successful whore to you.
VALENCIA: But this is a little different, though. I mean — has some of it been hurtful at all? What's your reaction then to it?
DANIELS: Stuff that bothers me is the flat out lies, like people randomly making up stuff.
VALENCIA: Like what?
DANIELS: Like that I'm broke. I’ve actually — I’m actually one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. I have a contract that has been in place for several years and actually I just renegotiated and got a new contract that was already the terms were already set before this stuff happened and I have a huge — I got a raise. So I'm doing just fine.
VALENCIA: What do you think about like the circus that's happening? I mean, you know, this was out in 2011 but now it's like a renewed attention on you and somebody else that we'll not name.
DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear with the new developments comes new interest.
VALENCIA: Go ahead?
HADAS GOLD: What do you want people to know you about and what is going on that you think is overshadowed?
DANIELS: Like I just said, that I'm doing what I've always done. I'm writing, directing, performing, dancing, like none that changed and people are under this huge misconception that I just started stripping and I've actually been doing this for 18 years.
GOLD: Like they think you're taking advantage of the situation.
DANIELS: And that's not true. Now, yes, I'm more in demand, and like I said in the Rolling Stone interview, if somebody came up to you and said hey, you know that job you've been doing forever? How about next week I pay you quadruple? Show me one person who is going to say no.
VALENCIA: So it has helped you financially?
DANIELS: It's helped me in the short immediate time because obviously more people are coming out and more people in the clubs. That's the more tips, but I have, you know, yet to see how it is going to play out long term.
VALENCIA: When you look back at this stage of your life, this period of you life, what do you think you're going to think about? What are you going to think about what you're going through right now?
DANIELS: Holy shit. I mean, is there anything else to say?
VALENCIA: Is any — anything I haven't asked that you is important to know, anything you'd like to talk about while we have a chance?
GOLD: Any more news this week or you just gonna let —
VALENCIA: What else should we expect?
DANIELS: I'm not sure what's coming this week, honestly.
DANIELS: I mean you guys work at CNN, you know.
GOLD: We try to know. That's — that’s our job.
VALENCIA: Any comments to the President?
VALENCIA: So you heard there Stormy Daniels refusing to comment to President Donald Trump. I did talk to a handful of patrons inside this gentlemen's club last night and they told me they were here to witness history, to be a part of history. Somebody drove — flew as far away from Texas. We were told by Stormy Daniels team that in her tour, so to speak, that people have come from all across the country just so see her and you get the sense talking to her, Fredricka, that she understands she’s part of history. She has two more performances here tonight later this evening. Fredricka — Victor, Christi? Sorry.
PAUL: That's okay. I know, it's been a long night. I know. It's alright, Nick. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. Nick Valencia there.
VALENCIA: You got it.
CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield
2:07 p.m. Eastern
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: And so a lot of people had come a long way, it had been heavily advertised. Tell me a little bit about the scene that this has become a big attraction.
VALENCIA: It has become a big attraction, that’s a perfect way to put it. In fact, we talked to somebody who flew as far away as Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, a man who told me he was a history teacher and he wanted to be here to witness what he called history. He said he was here to watch her. Other people I talked to said they traveled as far away as northern Florida just to see her dance. It is about 200 people inside, and, you know, there was a buzz about the crowd inside, the atmosphere was very electric. She had a very revealing performance, I should say, and she left the fans clapping. There was a lot of money thrown around, and she was happy by the end of the night. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: But in the end, a history lesson. Nick Valencia with the history professor.