Stelter: Was I ‘Stupid’ to Say Avenatti Was ‘Serious’ 2020 Contender?

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Well, it may have taken a while, but CNN host Brian Stelter finally admitted that praising lawyer Michael Avenatti (A.K.A creepy porn lawyer) as a “serious” contender for 2020 wasn’t a smart move. The admission came during the latest Reliable Sources as he was speaking with writers form the left-wing Daily Beast, Lachlan Markey and Asawin Suebsaeng about their new book about how the DC swamp infested President Trump’s administration.

After slipping up and saying Avenatti was “convicted on three counts for alleged extortion and other crimes” (he was convicted so it’s no longer “alleged”), Stelter told his guests that he was getting “grief” from Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity “for once suggesting that I thought Avenatti could be a serious candidate for president.”

Let’s be clear, Stelter was getting grief from many people, not just Hannity. Hannity was just Stelter’s favorite target.

So, give me a media critique. Was that stupid on my part? What do you make of how Avenatti was covered by CNN and MSNBC,” Stelter asked his guests.

Interestingly, Markay began by calling out Trump’s opponents for going off the deep end with their hate of the President. “I think one of the weird, and in many cases, distressing things that Trump has done basically, is to Trumpify his opponents as well. And you see this very often in the conspiratorial mindset that many of his detractors take online,” he suggested.

 

 

Speaking of conspiratorial mindsets, now’s probably a good time to remind readers that so-called “Reliable Sources” was the home of such thoughts as Trump’s America “echoes” the USSR plus Hitler, Trump was a “destructive cult” leader using “mind control,” and Trump was a mental-case who has killed more people than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao combined.

It’s no wonder Fox News contributor Dan Bongino dubbed Stelter CNN’s “lead conspiracy theorist.”

Markay further explained the media’s obsession with the “phenomenon of Michael Avenatti.” “This was a guy, who in many ways, was very similar to Trump. 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,” he argued.

Adding: “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.”

Calling out the lack of media scrutiny into Avenatti’s shady dealings, Markay remarked on how “a lot of folks did take him very seriously without looking at the extensive personal, financial, legal baggage that was out there just waiting to be reported.”

Suebsaeng took a different approach and ran cover for journalists like Stelter. “And 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,” he reasoned. “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 transcript is below, click "expand' to read:

CNN’s Reliable Sources
February 16, 2020
11:24:40 a.m. Eastern

(…)

BRIAN STELTER: Let me ask you real quick, while I have you, Michael Avenatti is back in the news. You know, the swamp is not just about Trump figures. I feel like there are so many other figures that are part of the swamp. Avenatti has just been convicted on three counts for alleged extortion and other crimes. I've been getting some grief from Sean Hannity this weekend, speaking of Fox. Right? From Hannity for once suggesting that I thought Avenatti could be a serious candidate for president.

So, give me a media critique. Was that stupid on my part? What do you make of how Avenatti was covered by CNN and MSNBC?

LACHLAN MARKAY: I think one of the weird, and in many cases, distressing things that Trump has done basically is to Trumpify his opponents as well. And you see this very often in the conspiratorial mindset that many of his detractors take online.

STELTER: Hmmm.

MARKEY: And I think that borne itself out in the phenomenon of Michael Avenatti as well. This was a guy, who in many ways, was very similar to Trump. He really knew how to operate in the modern media environment.

STELTER: Right.

MARKAY: 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.

STELTER: Right.

MARKEY: And I think that a lot of folks did take him very seriously without looking at the extensive personal, financial, legal baggage that was out there just waiting to be reported. As a matter of fact, our colleague Kate Briquelet at The Daily Beast did some amazing work on his finances, he threatened to sue her, among many other journalists. And this was back when he was sort of getting this, you know—there was a lot of adulation in the press.

STELTER: Wave of attention. He was getting so many TV interviews. And he was actually making news. I mean, the Stormy Daniels case was significant news about the President.

ASWIN SUEBSAENG: And 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, and doing things that did result in actual legal real-world consequences for what was, at the time, the President’s personal attorney and top fixer. Or one of his top fixers, Michael Cohen.

STELTER: Right.

SUEBSAENG: 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.

STELTER: When we talk about media manipulation, whether it's Trump or Avenatti or anybody else, the point is to be more skeptical of the manipulation that's going on.

MARKAY: Of course. Right. To examine the manipulation and not be manipulated.

STELTER: Right.

SUEBSAENG: We've to be meta all the time.

STELTER: All the time. Gentlemen, thanks for being here. The book is Sinking in the Swamp.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Media Bias Debate Double Standards Labeling Cable Television CNN Reliable Sources Video Michael Avenatti Brian Stelter Lachlan Markay Donald Trump

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