On July 10, The New York Times Magazine devoted nearly 6,000 words to Michael Avenatti, the Trump-trashing lawyer representing porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had sex with President Donald Trump. How is he worthy of so much attention?
This man is running a one-man show trafficking in anti-Trump propaganda. He started as the defender of the porn star and stripper. He has moonlighted with memos suggesting Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen is the tool of Russian oligarchs. Now he's even taking on immigrants who came to the country illegally as clients to paint Trump as evil for separating mothers and children at the Mexican border.
He boasts that he's a "mercenary" and says, "I don't apologize for it." He claims he has offers to have his own TV show but he doesn't want one. Why be a host when you can be the star witness? He's even threatening to run against Trump for president in 2020 if no one else can match his talent — his talent, that is, for getting himself on television.
Avenatti boasted to New York Times writer Matthew Shaer that he's made over 200 appearances on national TV news shows and late-night shows since March (including two appearances on Stephen Colbert's show). He's been paid by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from Trump haters through a CrowdJustice account. "None of this happens if we don't have a high profile," he admitted.
In short, Avenatti is the dictionary definition of a showboating lawyer, whose clients are mere playthings to get him into the bright lights. When federal Judge Kimba Wood told him in a hearing that he couldn't represent Daniels if he was going to go on a "publicity tour," he dropped his bid to argue in Wood's courtroom. Publicity is all.
But The Times gushed all over Avenatti, over his "blatant blue eyes" and his "steely and composed" face with "Cubist" geometric angles. He "traffics primarily in a commodity in short supply among left-leaning voters: hope." He has a "messianic standing among liberals." And "canonization proceedings were under way" among his Twitter fans. "There is a God," one tweeted. "He sent us Avenatti." "You and Stormy," wrote another, "may be the saviors of our democracy."
The biggest bouquet of praise came from Daniels' comparing her attorney to Michelangelo: ''every time I watch him work, I think, This is what it must have been like to see the Sistine Chapel being painted. But instead of paint, Michael uses the tears of his enemies.''
In this overlong article, we're told how Avenatti commands the media, talking for hours on CNN and MSNBC. Avenatti is such a regular he seems to know everyone at CNN by name. He snuck into a corner of the greenroom to chat with CNN President Jeff Zucker. He exchanged "profane banter" with CNN host Don Lemon, his new best friend. He "keeps in close contact with reporters in Washington and New York," pressing the scribes to confirm his opposition research on Trump so he can do more TV.
Doesn't all of this add up to a smoothly running liberal media machine in which the lines of responsibility vanish? Who is the journalist digging up the opposition research on Trump, and who is the trial lawyer? Where does advocacy end and journalism begin? Does anyone care? They all share a goal: to destroy Trump. Anyone who boasts (as Avenatti does) that he can ensure Trump won't finish a single term can treat the liberal networks as putty in his hands and put The New York Times in his back pocket.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.