The Michael Avenatti Show Is Not Funny, or Political, Anymore


I’ll admit, I really enjoyed writing about and observing the Michael Avenatti show the last few months. There was a part of me, one that I’m not entirely proud of but does produce some good writing, that was looking forward to his run for president for the entertainment value of it. His public persona has been an interesting mix of serious issues and circus-like stunts. In many ways his schtick is perfect for our modern environment where pop culture, viral stories, and politics all collide.

Not now though.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with President Trump, was arrested Wednesday following allegations of domestic violence, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Avenatti, who has denied the allegations, was booked Wednesday afternoon on a felony domestic violence charge after police took a report on Tuesday of the alleged incident. He was released on $50,000 bail.

Police say the incident occurred at a residence on Santa Monica Boulevard near Beverly Hills, according to BuzzFeed News.

Avenatti is entitled to defend himself and has the same right to due process as anyone else. None of us have any idea what happened and should let the facts of the case play out. My point here is more about the coverage of Avenatti in light of these events, and more specifically how some folks are still covering it the way they have for the last few months.

Social media lit up at the news, mocking and making a joke of the man who had been the public face of Stormy Daniels and others and constantly insisting and championing women against President Trump’s alleged treatment and payoff, and later a Brett Kavanaugh accuser. For her part, his most famous client is saying if the accusations prove to be true then she will find new representation, but is reserving judgement. The politics of hypocrisy and personal scandal always make a good story and will no doubt be so here.

The problem is once again the focus will all be on the celebrity accused of abuse, and the conversation that we should be having but never seem to get around to on domestic violence will once again be relegated.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, according to NCADV statistics. Domestic violence is often found to be present after the fact in more serious violent crimes. Intimate partner violence accounts for nearly 15% of all crime. Extrapolating the data out, on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

But the memes, jokes, and political takes will get all the attention. Avenatti’s usefulness to people who oppose President Trump made him a media star to some while the supporters of the president see him as a villain. Neither take has a place now, or should be the leading item of coverage, because that is of trivial importance compared to whether or not a victim of a crime gets justice. Domestic violence is not only a horrible crime but a vastly under-reported one, and spinning it for the news cycle of the moment doesn’t help.

So if you absolutely cannot refrain from rejoicing in Avenatti’s alleged fall from grace, such as it was, fine, do as you will in mocking the man. But if you go so far as to be happy that this happened because it fits your politics, or you want it to go away for the same reason, you are wrong. Dead wrong. There is a victim alleged in an official police report, and until that victim is given their due process and found to be wronged or in the wrong, Avenatti is no longer a laughing or political matter. Don’t treat it as such.

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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19 thoughts on “The Michael Avenatti Show Is Not Funny, or Political, Anymore

  1. And the side-piece to this is that if someone brings up a topic like this, don’t be too quick to assume they’re doing so for political reasons.

    Anything that affects this many people ripples out in all kinds of ways, and it’s not unlikely the person you think is trolling for political gain is actually mulling over something (or freaking out about something) for very personal reasons….

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  2. I remain amazed that public pugnaciousness alone somehow catapulted Avenatti into consideration for the Presidency.

    Candidates get vetted, each in their own way, and we are given the ability to see them for who they really are. This is a particularly horrible way for that to happen, but there it is. As we’ve seen in another example, a white guy with some degree of power willing to engage in acts of violence against women with whom intimacy is an issue is not necessarily prohibited from taking the Oval Office.

    I suppose that is a political joke, but it is a bitter one.

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    • “I remain amazed that public pugnaciousness alone somehow catapulted Avenatti into consideration for the Presidency.”

      I don’t seriously think he was ever seriously considered by any Democrat. He was gabbed about in the media for a bit because they have a constant thirst for new content or something to talk about.

      A lot of people here started on the R-side and moved left or are anti-Trump small-c conservatives. It is kind of fascinating to see this in action because I think there is still a small part of your brains that has an anti-Democratic Party reflexive attitude that kicks in every now and then. Sullivan is a professional version of this. You can see this in his columns. He writes a lot of columns about how horrible the Republicans are and to a lesser extent the Tories are but then decides he needs to write something scathing about the Democratic Party and its politicians just because. I think this is him trying to remember his Tory-Thatcher roots and stay true to them.

      Our 24-7 News Media is a disgraceful circus that is constantly looking for juicy content that is cheap to produce. I’m still of the opinion that there can be social value in a 24-7 News network but not business or profit value. 24-7 news can do documentary style, long investigative pieces but these are expensive and will not be watched by too many people. So they alternate between the news radio format and pundits sitting in a studio pontificating pompously. Pundits chatting in a studio are relatively cheap to produce and the media loves Horserace political stories because talking about policy and its consequences is hard and alienating.

      TL/DR, as a life-long Democrat, I saw more eyerolls on my side about Aventti as a Presidential candidate than serious consideration. The serious consideration I saw amounted to people who get their paychecks speculating about such matters. I find that it is disgraceful that this is a way to earn a paycheck. I’d ban it if I could.

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  3. So. This story is getting bizarre.

    Avenatti’s wife Lisa Storie-Avenatti says, through her lawyer, that it wasn’t her, she hasn’t been to the apartment in months.

    That same WaPost story says another ex-wife says it wasn’t her, either, and she’s never known him to be abusive.

    The LAPD is investigating. May they investigate fully.

    Oh, I just would like to note that I don’t take Avenatti seriously as a presidential candidate, nor does any Democrat I know. That doesn’t rule him out, of course, since we live in the Age of Trump.

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    • LAPD said that bail was set at $50,000.

      Which is crazy if nothing happened and the cops just showed up and arrested him on suspected DV.

      Now, I’m not saying that this wasn’t whatever the modern equivalent of a “swatting” is. It could very well be.

      But if the cops can arrest you and the courts can set bail at $50,000 based on a hoax phone call, then we have a *HUGE* problem.

      I mean, sure, we are reminded of how bad our problem is every time the cops shoot a black guy for standing around while black… but if the cops are this easily manipulated, dudes… We have a *HUGE* law enforcement problem.

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      • Honestly, this episode might well be an instance of “information warfare”. On either side, or both.

        If the allegations are true, then $50,000 in bail is reasonable and just. And if there’s a fraud, you can expect that the fraudsters are going to be in for a very bad time. It’s just such a dumb, dumb fraud, though.

        My “skeptic” self wants to know why Avenatti’s wife made a statement through her lawyer, rather than appearing, for instance.

        And the contra side says they already tried some dumb stuff like this with the arrest of Stormy Daniels earlier this year.

        So, if things are muddy enough, people will believe what they want to believe, and that’s the desired result of “information warfare”. That’s the worst possible outcome, in my opinion.

        So, like I say, I’d like the LAPD to investigate fully.

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      • This actually isn’t that crazy. I don’t know what the law is in LA but many jurisdictions have mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence complaints. I used to have clients in this situation. Basically if the police are called someone (sometimes everyone) is spending the night in jail, regardless of how merited (or without merit) the allegation appears. Also with bail remember that he isn’t paying $50k. He’s maybe spending 10-15% of that on a bond. Someone with his money, connections, and no real flight risk probably can secure it for less.

        I won’t speculate on whether he did it or not but this sounds well within the norm to me.

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    • There was some statements of folks that had Avenatti screaming to the effect “This is BS she hit me first” but I’m not taking that at face value enough to run it in a piece without someone credible sourcing it beyond TMZ. Also, Avenatti blamed Jacob Wohl, late of Mueller hoax game of all people, but like Jay says above, the LAPD cuffing a high profile person better have their stuff straight. We will see…

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      • Here’s a story from Tuesday:

        Tyler Barriss, 26, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making a false report resulting in a death, after he placed a hoax call late last year that resulted in police fatally shooting an unarmed man in Wichita, Kan.

        If it becomes Common Knowledge that the cops just go out and arrest people whenever they hear a “credible report” (and their definition of “credible” is pretty damn close to “extant”), then things change. And not in a “more trust/collaboration” direction.

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  4. The flaw in this post is to pretend that there is politics, which is serious and has stakes, and there is entertainment, which is frivolous and meaningless, when in fact out politics has become primarily a sublimated form of entertainment. When the President of the United States is a reality TV star (I say ‘is’ and not ‘was’), collision is no longer the correct metaphor. They have become the same.

    And this isn’t new. Obama’s success as president came primarily from his ability to inspire certain feelings in people. GWB was a master practitioners of unintentional humor and Clinton was a master empath. Reagan was a literal actor of the old Hollywood studio system. The presidents of the past forty years that failed to win re-election we’re definitely the least entertaining. And you find the same, if you look at the losing candidates over the same period. Michael Dukakis was so far from entertaining that he had to drive a tank to try the get the part.

    This is something that is certainly more pronounced on the right, as the conservative movement has come to be dominated by ideological cosplayers, but the center and the left cannot resist the temptation to join in the fun. And so we get a guy like Avenatti. This is no longer the sideshow. It is the main event.

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  5. Part of me wonders if this is a political arrest designed to discredit Michael Avenatti and by extension Stormy Daniels. Authoritarian politicians have been known to do this. Its highly unlikely but it is possible.

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