Latest Avenatti charges reignite criticism of media that once lauded him
Feds charge Michael Avenatti with fraud, aggravated identity theft involving former client Stormy Daniels; Jacqui Heinrich reports from New York.
Avenatti is now facing new criminal charges, accused of identity theft and fraud against his onetime client, adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump years before he took office as president.
Avenatti allegedly stole $300,000 belonging to Daniels from a book deal advance, which prosecutors claim he used to "maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari.” Avenatti already faces dozens of other criminal charges, and is looking at the possibility of more than 300 years in federal prison.
The Washington Free Beacon highlighted much of the praise Avenatti received when he first entered the spotlight in 2018.
MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle told Avenatti that she owed him "an apology" for underestimating his importance.
"I've been saying: 'Enough already, Michael! I've seen you everywhere. What do you have left to say? I was wrong, brother. You have a lot to say," Ruhle said. "The Democrats can learn something from you. You're messing with Trump a lot more than they are."
On ABC's "The View," co-host Joy Behar said that Avenatti was "saving the country" with a legal battle against President Trump.
She called the lawyer "the only person Donald Trump fears more than Robert Mueller," referring to the special counsel who spent months looking at the Trump campaign's alleged relationship with Moscow.
Many on cable news went so far as to fuel speculation about an Avenatti bid for the White House.
"One of the reasons why I'm taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news," CNN's "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter told Avenatti.
"When you look at the field of Democrats right now and Avenatti is the one that stands out," Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker said during an MSNBC panel.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace agreed, saying "if they decide they value a fighter the most, people would be foolish to underestimate Michael Avenatti."
The Free Beacon previously reported that Avenatti earned an estimated $175 million in free media from his 108 appearances on CNN and MSNBC within a two-month span in 2018.
Avenatti was also a frequent guest on late-night shows. On CBS, "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert called him an "existential threat to the Trump presidency," while over at HBO, "Real Time" host Bill Maher declared the attorney was "Donald Trump's worst nightmare" and "something of a folk hero."
Critics slammed the cable networks for repeatedly inviting him on the air despite claims that he was abusive to network employees, according to a new piece published in Vanity Fair.
Others piled on those who "slobbered" over Avenatti before his downfall.
The Daily Caller's Peter Hasson offered a throwback to a since-deleted tweet showing Avenatti partying with CNN anchor Don Lemon, CNN contributor Errol Louis, and PBS' "Firing Line" host Margaret Hoover.