Accuracy in Media

Michael Avenatti made headlines for months due to his representation as the lawyer for former adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump. He also flirted with the idea to run as a Democratic Party presidential candidate, but did not file to run for office. Now, Aveniatti is facing charges from federal prosecutors on trying to extort Nike, one of the top international apparel brands in sports.

Avenatti has been facing several specific extortion-related charges since March 2019, which were extortion, the transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to distort. Federal prosecutors dropped the conspiracy charges this week, but added the charge for honest services wire fraud.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and tweeted that he was “extremely pleased” that the conspiracy charges were dropped. Avenatti framed it as a political case by referring to the Department of Justice as “Trump’s DOJ.”

Yet the mainstream media mostly ignored the update on Avenatti’s case, despite their wall-to-wall coverage of Avenatti when he represented Daniels. Fox Business and Reuters were the only mainstream outlets to cover the updated charges against Avenatti. Additionally, the HuffPost was one of the only left-leaning media outlets to cover the news.

The media’s insistence to not report on the news surrounding Avenatti’s case is an example of media bias. The media interviewed Avenatti and his former client Daniels for months, but now that Avenatti has been accused of federal crimes, there is almost complete silence from the media. The media should recognize that they contributed to Avenatti’s brief stardom and activism and report on the progress of his case, whether he is guilty or not guilty. It would provide more context and clarity for their audiences, as well as a reminder to Americans to obey and honor the laws of the land and due process.

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