One of President Donald Trump’s most outspoken critics – a man who often portrayed himself as a fearless crusader for truth and justice – is almost certainly going to prison for a very long time.
Michael Avenatti rose to prominence as the lawyer who represented former porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, in her lawsuit against the president. For a time, Avenatti enjoyed something approaching hero status in the left-wing media and “The Resistance” as he railed against Trump at every opportunity. At one point, he even floated the possibility of a presidential run.
No Love on Valentine’s Day
On Feb. 14, though, the man once touted as the one who would bring down the president was found guilty on three counts relating to his attempt to extort millions from sports apparel giant Nike. Now, he faces the possibility of decades behind bars.
A jury found the former attorney guilty of wire fraud, attempted extortion, and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort. The verdict, however, is not the end of Avenatti’s legal troubles. He faces two more trials: He is being prosecuted in California for fraud and tax-related crimes and in the state of New York for allegedly stealing money intended to go to Clifford as an advance on her book.
The Nike case centered around youth basketball coach Gary Franklin, who claimed that the company coerced him into making illicit payments to school players. Following the allegations, Nike terminated its sponsorship of the basketball program run by Franklin. Avenatti was hired to fight the decision but used the case as an opportunity to demand more than $20 million in exchange for not going public with claims that would have been financially and perhaps legally damaging to Nike.
In a bizarre attempt to paint himself as a victim of political persecution, Avenatti has claimed that his legal woes are retaliation for his frequent clashes with Trump.
The Media’s Unwholesome Love Affair
Back in 2018, left-leaning news networks and talk show hosts rolled out the red carpet for the attorney, celebrating him as a courageous truth-teller, standing fast against a corrupt president. Joy Behar, a co-host of The View, once asserted that Avenatti was “saving the country.” Bill Maher hailed him as a “folk hero.”
Make no mistake: The president’s media foes knew what kind of a man Avenatti was – they simply didn’t care, so long as he continued to publicly throw red meat to Trump’s haters. In a 2019 article, for example, a reporter for Vanity Fair described Avenatti as a “hyper-aggressive narcissist with shadows in his past.” Trump Derangement Syndrome has always allowed certain people in the media to discard all moral and ethical standards as they look for those who, they hope, can mortally wound this president. Thus, Avenatti was embraced and showered with praise even though the very people interviewing and writing about him – with their networks of contacts and not insignificant research resources – almost certainly knew full well what kind of person Avenatti was.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.