On Thursday night and Friday morning, ABC and NBC newscasts refused to cover not one but two bad stories for liberal media darling and attorney Michael Avenatti as Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) requested the Department of Justice investigate Avenatti and Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick for their behavior during the confirmation fight.
NBC’s refusal to cover Avenatti was even more disgraceful considering the fact that NBCNews.com had released a bombshell piece Thursday night conceding that Swetnick’s claims were flimsy to begin with. Of course, they aired an October 1 interview with her, but more on that in a moment. What a week for NBC.
The CBS Evening News filled the void, with anchor Jeff Glor announcing Thursday that “[o]ne of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accusers and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, could soon be the targets of a criminal investigation.”
Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes explained that Swetnick’s story about Kavanaugh “had some inconsistencies” and Grassley told the DOJ that they should “investigate whether Mr. Avenatti criminally conspired with Ms. Swetnick to make materially false statements to the Committee.”
Cordes also noted that Avenatti has been pondering a bid for president in 2020 as a Democrat but Thursday also featured less-than-helpful comments that he had made to Time’s Molly Ball way, way back on June 25 (which, for some reason, Ball sat on until now) (click “expand”):
But he angered some Democrats today with his latest comments to Time magazine, where he said the party's nominee in 2020 “better be a white male,” like him, because: “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight. Should they carry more wait? Absolutely not. But do they?” He said: “Yes.” Avenatti claims his comments were taken out of context. A release of the transcript of that interview shows that they were not. As for Grassley's request for an FBI investigation, Department of Justice officials confirmed that they have received that request, but, Jeff, they had no comment on whether they plan to take him up on it.
CBS spent two minutes and nine seconds Thursday night on Avenatti and then two minutes and 25 seconds on Friday’s CBS This Morning with a lead-in by co-host Bianna Golodgrya and a report by Washington correspondent Paula Reid
Friday morning’s coverage followed largely along the lines of what CBS viewers saw Thursday night. Reid concluded with this:
The Justice Department has not said whether or not it will pursue this referral. If it does, Avenatti will likely try to paint it as a politically motivated explanation, but many Republicans believe it is Kavanaugh who is the true victim here and would like to see this pursued.
Now, to NBC’s chicanery and ignoring their own report. Sunday NBC Nightly News anchor Kate Snow and Anna Schecter published quite an expose on Avenatti and Swetnick entitled “New questions raised about Avenatti claims regarding Kavanaugh.” Oh really?
Here are the highlights (click “expand”):
In the NBC News interview that aired on Oct. 1, Swetnick back-tracked on or contradicted parts of her sworn statement where she alleged she witnessed then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh "cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a 'train' of boys."
NBC News also found other apparent inconsistencies in a second sworn statement from another woman whose statement Avenatti provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bid to bolster Swetnick's claims.
In the second statement, the unidentified woman said she witnessed Kavanaugh "spike" the punch at high school parties in order to sexually take advantage of girls. But less than 48 hours before Avenatti released her sworn statement on Twitter, the same woman told NBC News a different story.
Referring to Kavanaugh spiking the punch, "I didn't ever think it was Brett," the woman said to reporters in a phone interview arranged by Avenatti on Sept. 30 after repeated requests to speak with other witnesses who might corroborate Swetnick's claims. As soon as the call began, the woman said she never met Swetnick in high school and never saw her at parties and had only become friends with her when they were both in their 30s.
When asked in the phone interview if she ever witnessed Kavanaugh act inappropriately towards girls, the woman replied, "no." She did describe a culture of heavy drinking in high school that she took part in, and said Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were part of that group.
It went onto explain that a sworn declaration by another woman supporting Swetnick backtracked on October 3 when she told NBC News “by phone independently from Avenatti” that “she only ‘skimmed’” her own “declaration.” The following day, she texted NBC News that “[i]t is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn't see anyone spike the punch...I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.”
The piece continued (click “expand”):
Shortly after tweeting out the woman's allegations on Oct. 2, Avenatti confirmed to NBC News that it was the same woman interviewed by phone on Sept. 30. But when questioned on Oct. 3 about the discrepancies between what she said in the phone interview and the serious allegations in the sworn declaration, Avenatti said he was "disgusted" with NBC News. At one point, in an apparent effort to thwart the reporting process, he added in the phone call, "How about this, on background, it's not the same woman. What are you going to do with that?"
After NBC News received text messages from the woman refuting some of the claims in the declaration, NBC reached out again to Avenatti, who defended the declaration.
Roughly five minutes later, the woman sent a formally-worded text backing Avenatti. "Please understand that everything in the declaration is true and you should not contact me anymore regarding this issue," the text read.
But when reached by phone minutes later, the woman again insisted that she never saw Kavanaugh spike punch or act inappropriately toward women. She said she's "been consistent in what she's told Michael."
In a subsequent text on Oct. 5, she wrote, "I will definitely talk to you again and no longer Avenatti. I do not like that he twisted my words."
To recap, NBC had information during the height of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle with the political left insisting all Kavanaugh accusers (including Swetnick) be believed. The Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow has a devastating takedown on the what NBC claims they knew and when, accusing them of having sat on this information.
All told, it sure appears that way, a la Lisa Myers and Juanita Broaddrick from the 1990s.
And this is the same network wants to try and fire Megyn Kelly following her blackface remarks and poor ratings? What another ugly week for NBC when it comes to journalistic ethics.
To see the relevant transcript from August 25's CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor, click “expand.”
CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor
August 26, 2018
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Criminal Investigation?]
JEFF GLOR: A potential criminal investigation into one of the Kavanaugh accusers and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
6:38 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Criminal Investigation?]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Avenatti Investigation? Senator Asks for Probe of Avenatti, Kavnaugh Accuser]
GLOR: One of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accusers and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, could soon be the targets of a criminal investigation. The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, called for one today. Nancy Cordes has this story.
MICHAEL AVENATTI: Senator Grassley just stepped in it, to be clear.
NANCY CORDES: In New York this evening, a defiant Michael Avenatti hit back at Senate Republicans.
AVENATTI: We want a full and complete investigation into each of my client's allegations.
CORDES: Avenatti's client, Julie Swetnick, is one of three women who came forward with allegations against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. Swetnick said Kavanaugh and his friends spiked drinks at high school parties so they could gang rape girls. But her explosive story had some inconsistencies, and Kavanaugh vigorously denied it.
BRETT KAVANAUGH: The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce.
CORDES: In a letter to the Department of Justice today, the Republican chair of the senate judiciary committee, Iowa's Chuck Grassley, asked that the FBI “investigate whether Mr. Avenatti criminally conspired with Ms. Swetnick to make materially false statements to the Committee.” Avenatti, who also represents porn star Stormy Daniels in her case against the President, is a particularly tempting target for Senate Republicans because he has been open about his interest in running for president. But he angered some Democrats today with his latest comments to Time magazine, where he said the party's nominee in 2020 “better be a white male,” like him, because: “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight. Should they carry more wait? Absolutely not. But do they?” He said: “Yes.” Avenatti claims his comments were taken out of context. A release of the transcript of that interview shows that they were not. As for Grassley's request for an FBI investigation, Department of Justice officials confirmed that they have received that request, but, Jeff, they had no comment on whether they plan to take him up on it.
GLOR: Okay, Nancy Cordes with the latest tonight on Michael Avenatti. Nancy, thank you.
To see the relevant transcript from August 26's CBS This Morning, click “expand.”
CBS This Morning
October 26, 2018
7:09 a.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Calling for Investigation]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Calling for Investigation; Sen. Grassley Asks DOJ to Probe Avenatti & Swetnick]
BIANNA GOLODRGYA: Well, attorney Michael Avenatti and one of his clients could face a criminal investigation stemming from the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation. His client, Julie Swetnick, is one of several women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley claims Avenatti and Swetnick made false allegations. Paula Reid is at the Justice Department with the latest. Paula, good morning.
PAULA REID: Good morning. Senator Grassley is asking the Justice Department to look into whether Avenatti and Swetnick intentionally lied to the Committee in an effort to interfere with its investigation into Kavanaugh. But Avenatti says he welcomes a probe as an opportunity to vindicate his client.
MICHAEL AVENATTI: Thank you, Senator Grassley, thank you. It is Christmas in October.
REID: Michael Avenatti says they opened a Pandora's box to investigate whether he and his client Julie Swetnick violated federal law during Kavanaugh's investigation.
AVENATTI: We're going to put Judge Kavanaugh on trial and we're going to test his credibility against that of me and my client. We welcome that fight.
REID: Swetnick alleged Kavanaugh and his friends drugged female house students at their parties so they could gang rape them. Kavanaugh vigorously denied the allegations.
BRETT KAVANAUGH: The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce.
REID: In his 12-page letter, Senator Grassley says “there is no credible evidence that Ms. Swetnick ever even met or socialized with Judge Kavanaugh.” Avenatti is considering a presidential run in 2020.
AVENATTI [on CNN’s Reliable Sources, 09/16/18]: I'm getting more serious by the week because I'm traveling around the country and people are encouraging me to do it.
REID: But comments he made this week to Time magazine will likely rile some of his supporters. Avenatti said the party's nominee in 2020 “better be a white male” because, quote, “when you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight.”
AVENATTI: I don't think there's anything wrong with calling out people that look like me for not doing enough to defend women and minorities and people of color, and I'm going to continue to do that.
REID: The Justice Department has not said whether or not it will pursue this referral. If it does, Avenatti will likely try to paint it as a politically motivated explanation, but many Republicans believe it is Kavanaugh who is the true victim here and would like to see this pursued. Norah?
NORAH O’DONNELL: That’ll be interesting. Paula, thank you.