We don’t want to celebrate someone being found guilty of extortion. That said, it is worth remembering that Michael Avenatti was talked about as a Democratic Presidential candidate and a serious lawyer who appeared 121 times on CNN and 108 on MSNBC criticizing the President. He was fired by adult film actress Stormy Daniels but his worst political effort may have been his false attacks on Justice Brett Kavanaugh regarding Julie Swetnick’s “rape train” allegations.
NBC and MSNBC exploited Avenatti’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh despite even Swetnick not agreeing with them. As Megan McCardle wrote in 2018, NBC knew Kavanaugh accuser’s account was shaky. But it sat on the story anyway.
But during her NBC interview, Swetnick backtracked from her allegations. Now it emerges that NBC News was aware that there might be other serious problems with her story — but waited until Thursday last week to inform the public.
In late September, NBC had contacted a woman whose anonymous sworn statement corroborating Swetnick’s story had been supplied to the Judiciary Committee by Avenatti. Yet in a series of communications between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5 — the eve of the Kavanaugh vote — NBC discovered that the woman essentially failed to corroborate anything. And she repudiated Avenatti: “I do not like that he twisted my words.”
NBC ran with a bad story from Avenatti at a crucial time to damage Kavanaugh.
Kate Snow, who did the Oct. 1 interview with Swetnick, tweeted an explanation for the delay: “By the time we were able to find the woman independently from Mr. Avenatti, who declined to give us her full legal name and phone number, and fully report and vet her story, the Kavanaugh confirmation process was over and the news value was limited.”
Frankly, the explanation doesn’t make sense. One reason the Kavanaugh nomination exploded in partisan rancor was that his opponents, seeing what seemed like three solid sexual assault allegations, thought so much smoke suggested a pretty big fire.
Avenatti was all smoke and no fire. What is more troubling and why Avenatti is still relevant is it was obvious to NBC at the time that he was not telling the truth. The lesson of Avenatti should not be forgotten and shame on the mainstream media for legitimatizing him.