CNN Surprised by Avenatti’s New Indictments, Footnotes How It Sucked Up to Him

Wednesday afternoon’s CNN Newsroom reported in two segments between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern that former Stormy Daniels attorney and liberal media boy toy Michael Avenatti was indicted in separate cases pertaining to his alleged extortion of Nike and alleged financial defrauding of Daniels. 

Of course, CNN only footnoted the fact they had made their bed with Avenatti, hosting him an incredible 121 times between March 2017 and April 11, 2019 (which was the publication date of a study by the MRC’s Bill D’Agostino). In addition, host Brooke Baldwin and correspondent Sara Sidner ignored a Vanity Fair piece that revealed how he treated his adoring flock.

 

 

Before going to the piece from Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox, here was a portion of Sidner’s first report on the Avenatti indictments (click “expand”):

We knew that the Nike indictment would happen. This is the indictment by the Southern District of New York on charges that Michael Avenatti tried to extort Nike out of more than $20 million in exchange basically for not putting things out in the public due to some issues that he says that Nike was responsible for basically dealing with athletes and trying to bribe athletes to go to certain schools that he accused Nike of, but this is new. This is something we had not yet heard. This coming out today, in the U.S. Attorney's announcement there in the New York, he says that Michael Avenatti has also now been indicted on fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. Now what that has to do with is the book deal that he helped broker for his client. You will recognize her name, Stormy Daniels....[T]he U.S. Attorney is saying, look, he told her literary agent, had a signed piece of paper, and that signed piece of paper he said that Stormy Daniels had signed it, apparently and that the monies were to be given to him first and put into an account of his in lieu of giving it straight to her, somewhere around $140,000 plus that was involved in this particular case and that money was diverted to his account as opposed to being paid to Stormy Daniels in an advance on her book[.]

Guest and former New Jersey AG Meg Milgram followed Sidner with more bad news, noting that there’s now “three cases against him” with the other having been “the case in California in which he is alleged to have taken money that was supposed to go to a client who was badly injured and he took it all personally and just doled out a tiny bit to that individual over years and so, you know, I find his denials really sort of stunning in the face of how much evidence” prosecutors gathered.

In the following hour, Sidner reiterated the new charges, including how Avenatti was alleged to have forged Daniels’s signature during book deal negotiations. She also played a clip of an April interview she did with him in which he maintained he had lost money by representing Daniels.

 

 

It was only here that Sidner acknowledged the network’s role in promoting him (click “expand”):

SIDNER: So you heard him talking there about the amount of time spent. You will also remember that a lot of the time was also spent on networks like ours. He did a lot of publicity, a lot of talking about it and I asked him, look, didn't you get as much out of this as Stormy maybe not monetarily but certainly publicity-wise and he said, yes, I got a lot of publicity but that doesn't take the bills. So you hear there talking about money losses. The prosecutors saying, yeah, he might have lost money. We don't know. What we do know is they are accusing him of taking money that was not supposed to be his and then being dishonest about it with stormy Daniels, Brooke. 

BALDWIN: I hear him saying he'll be exonerated. We'll wait to see the facts to speak for themselves.

As stated at the top, CNN left out relevant points, such as Fox’s piece that told of how, after his first appearance (March 6 on NBC’s Today) triggered “a flurry of interviews that would keep him in green rooms and on cable-news sets and shuttling from one studio to the next in black cars for weeks” that made him “one of the most famous people in America, a cable-news pugilist who was actually going toe-to-toe with the president and drawing blood.”

Fox noted how positive the coverage was, including puff pieces about his level of attractiveness, but underneath that was his a “Trumpian...tension between his desire to be talked about incessantly and his crepey thin-skinned-ness if and when that talk turned to criticism, whether in the media or from strangers on Twitter.”

Here’s the relevant excerpt on his belligerent behavior when the cameras were off (click “expand”)

He would routinely respond to people who e-mailed him comments after he appeared on cable news, calling small-town lawyers who’d written him notes to chew them out for their remarks, according to people familiar with this practice. He berated Time magazine after it published a story quoting him saying that the next Democratic nominee would likely have to be a white man, demanding that the publication release the transcript of his interview. He once threatened The Daily Caller with a defamation suit, messaging the reporter that “this is the last warning.” His girlfriend through much of his year in the spotlight, Mareli Miniutti, recalled that he rarely put his phone down and would scroll through all of his Twitter mentions. “He would say, ‘Oh my god, this asshole said this and you know what I did? I fucking blocked that motherfucker.’ ”

Behind the scenes, his behavior was even more volatile. “He had a terrible temper,” one prime-time anchor told me. “He never lost it with me, or really with any of the talent, as far as I know, because it was mostly for the bookers or the people who were behind the scenes. But he would tell people, ‘I’m going to fucking bury you. Why the fuck would you do that?’ if he didn’t like something.” A number of reporters recalled that he would physically invade their space. “His nose gets millimeters from your face and it’s clear he knows no boundaries,” one broadcast reporter and producer told me.

Last spring, a print outlet published a story that called into question whether Avenatti had paid someone for information that would have helped his client. According to two people, he confronted the reporter on a cable set to express his displeasure and started to shout: “Fuck me once, shame on you.” People came up to her afterward to make sure she was O.K. “That’s how aggressive and alarming it was.”

His temper often flared when producers and bookers tried to vet stories he was involved in. “It felt like we were enabling a total rage-oholic,” one booker told me. “It was pathological.”

Gee, it would have been nice if media janitor Brian Stelter and his team had dug up dirt on how Avenatti was treating the people who were worshipping at his feet. Unfortunately, Stelter was too busy doing just that.

To see the relevant transcript from May 22's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
May 22, 2019
2:40 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: Alright, we are back. We’ve got breaking news involving Michael Avenatti. Let's go straight to our correspondent Sara Sidner with the very latest. Sarah what, is the story? 

SARA SIDNER: So a couple of things. Some things that people did not see coming. We knew that the Nike indictment would happen. This is the indictment by the Southern District of New York on charges that Michael Avenatti tried to extort Nike out of more than $20 million in exchange basically for not putting things out in the public due to some issues that he says that Nike was responsible for basically dealing with athletes and trying to bribe athletes to go to certain schools that he accused Nike of, but this is new. This is something we had not yet heard. This coming out today, in the U.S. Attorney's announcement there in the New York, he says that Michael Avenatti has also now been indicted on fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. Now what that has to do with is the book deal that he helped broker for his client. You will recognize her name, Stormy Daniels. You will remember Stormy Daniels was, you know, the news for a whole year as she brought forward lots of allegations against Donald Trump and Michael Cohen and so she basically in this indictment, the U.S. Attorney is saying, look, he told her literary agent, had a signed piece of paper, and that signed piece of paper he said that Stormy Daniels had signed it, apparently and that the monies were to be given to him first and put into an account of his in lieu of giving it straight to her, somewhere around $140,000 plus that was involved in this particular case and that money was diverted to his account as opposed to being paid to Stormy Daniels in an advance on her book and you'll remember her book was — was a lot about her life but also about what she says was a sexual relationship with Donald Trump where she described all manner of things in that particular book and then ended up selling that book and it was published, but so this is very new. Something that we had not heard of up until today. That the U.S. Attorney not only is indicting Michael Avenatti on extortion charges, but now concerning Nike that the sports apparel company but he is also now facing fraud and aggravated identity theft charges in connection with Stormy Daniels, in connection with trying to get money or getting money from her literary agent in connection with the book that she wrote and I do want to read you because Michael Avenatti has just tweeted as he often does when these sort of things come up and I do want to read you what he has put out just now to the public. 

BADLWIN: Sure. 

SIDNER: Let me find it here. He has basically said, look, in his Twitter response he said: “I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct, at no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contract and texts and documents are presented.” That is just in the past ten seconds. Michael Avenatti tweeted that out to the public in response to this particular indictment. One, of course, is about Stormy Daniels and misappropriation of money there, according to the U.S. Attorney. The other is, of course, about extortion charges when it comes to Nike. He has denied those to me in person. We have talked at length in an interview where he talked about Nike. He has said this is Nike’s way of getting the story that is damaging to Nike out of the press and instead making him the villain. He is still accusing Nike of wrongdoing at this very point in time and has put documents out over the past few months concerning that. But he is now formally being charged and has been indicted for extortion when it comes to Nike and fraud and aggravated identity theft when it comes to Stormy Daniels. We have not heard from Stormy. 

BALDWIN: To your point on the second piece of that, didn't see that coming. 

SIDNER: Yeah.

BALDWIN: Sara Sidner, thank you so much for all of that. Let me bring in CNN legal analyst Meg Milgram and I know we’re going to get to what we were planning on talking about in just a second but listening to Sarah’s reporting from the U.S. Attorney on these fraud and aggravated identity theft charges and obviously, he says saying I'm going to be exonerated, just wait. What do you think of this?

MEG MILGRAM: You know, he’s been saying that all along, but remember we now we have three cases against him. So, we have the extortion case with Nike. We now have the Stormy Daniels stealing money that was obviously intended for her through the book contract and there’s also the case in California in which he is alleged to have taken money that was supposed to go to a client who was badly injured and he took it all personally and just doled out a tiny bit to that individual over years and so, you know, I find his denials really sort of stunning in the face of how much evidence it seems particularly having read the California indictment. There are just a lot of facts. There are text messages. There are emails.

BALDWIN: To back that up. 

MILGRAM: It’s clear that the government is going to have extensive amount of evidence. 

BALDWIN: Okay, so we will stand by on Michael Avenatti.

(....)

3:11 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

BALDWIN: Also breaking news, attorney Michael Avenatti has just been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels and that is just one of the cases in a new indictment. 

(....)

3:16 p.m. Eastern

BALDWIN: Breaking news now on celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti. A federal grand jury in Manhattan has just indicted him in two alleged schemes. One involving his former client Stormy Daniels. CNN national correspondent Sara Sidner has interviewed Michael Avenatti and you now have the scoop. We know that he's already been charged in several financial crimes, including that whole Nike case. What are the latest accusations involved? 

SIDNER: So the government, of course, had to put forward the official indictment before the end of the month. When it comes to the Nike extortion case, they're accusing Michael Avenatti of extorting Nike for more than $20 million. That is one case. What is new and unexpected is this other charge. Two charges, one of fraud and one of aggravated identity theft involving as they call victim one who turns out to be stormy Daniels. We have learned. So that indictment involves a book deal that he had brokered for Stormy Daniels. You’ll remember the book. It was called Full Disclosure. Stormy Daniels published the book and it was a story of her life and also the story of what happened between her and then Donald Trump in 2006 when she said they had a sexual encounter and she described in detail about what that encounter was about and what happened after that and so in that book deal, according to the prosecutors, basically they are accusing Michael Avenatti of — taking money that was supposed to be given to Stormy Daniels in the very beginning of the book deal, $148,000, and having that put into an account of his that was not shared with Stormy Daniels. They are saying that he misappropriated that money. They called it fraud and they called it identity theft because they say that he signed documents with her name that, indeed, she was not aware of and did not herself sign. That is the accusations there and then of course Michael Avenatti has responded immediately to these particular new charges. He also talked to me about the Nike charges last month. Let me read you first what he has put out both on Twitter and sent to CNN. He said, look: “I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct, at no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contract and texts and documents are presented.” He also sent me this just a few seconds ago: “That no monies relating to Miss Daniels were ever misappropriated. She received millions worth of legal services and we spent huge sum in expenses.” Brooke, I want to play you just the short part of a very long in depth interview with Michael Avenatti in April. We asked him specifically, because stormy Daniels, as you know, said she was treated dishonestly when it comes to Michael Avenatti. She recently said that after the two of them split and their relationship ended. I asked him about that and I asked him about how much money he made off of the deal. Here is what he said. [TO AVENATTI] Did you lose money? 

MICHAEL AVENATTI: Oh, there’s no question I lost money. I mean, we lost millions of dollars by taking this case. There is no question about that. 

SIDNER: Millions? 

AVENATTI: Million dollars. Stormy Daniels didn't pay us a bunch of money. We crowd funded, raised money and the like. We lost millions of dollars in connection with this case. I would have been far off financially if he never would have taken this case. Now it was bigger than that and it is still bigger than that. 

SIDNER: So you heard him talking there about the amount of time spent. You will also remember that a lot of the time was also spent on networks like ours. He did a lot of publicity, a lot of talking about it and I asked him, look, didn't you get as much out of this as Stormy maybe not monetarily but certainly publicity-wise and he said, yes, I got a lot of publicity but that doesn't take the bills. So you hear there talking about money losses. The prosecutors saying, yeah, he might have lost money. We don't know. What we do know is they are accusing him of taking money that was not supposed to be his and then being dishonest about it with stormy Daniels, Brooke. 

BALDWIN: I hear him saying he'll be exonerated. We'll wait to see the facts to speak for themselves. Sara Sidner, thank you very much. 

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