As we highlighted earlier this week, it was only a little over a year ago when Brian Stelter declared Michael Avenatti to be “a master of the media”:

What a difference a year makes, huh? Now that Michael Avenatti’s next career move could very well be prison, Brian has to perform some impressive feats of intellectual gymnastics to justify all those nice things he said. This is what he’s going with:

Excuse us?

He really said it (emphasis his):

With Michael Avenatti facing charges in multiple states, WaPo’s Erik Wemple went back and examined the reasons for Avenatti’s “cable-news ubiquity,” which has been intensely criticized by conservative media critics. I played a starring role in this Free Beacon mash-up of TV outlets talking with Avenatti, so Wemple asked me for comment… And here’s what I told him:

There are lots and lots of reasons why Avenatti was newsworthy when he was representing Stormy Daniels. Journalists did their jobs and questioned him — some more effectively than others. Critics are doing their jobs and questioning the coverage — and that makes all of us better. But bad faith arguments make us all worse off. Some folks have been distorting my comment last September about Avenatti. My thesis back then, which still holds, is that all future US presidents will be television stars of some sort. TV star power will be a prerequisite for the presidency. [That’s why] I told Avenatti “one reason I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.”

Obviously I’m not taking him seriously anymore, but I own that comment. He showed a Trump-like mastery of the media last year. I think there’s been a lot of introspection in newsrooms about the reasons for that mastery. I think what’s most important now is that the cases against him are covered fairly and thoroughly, not soft-pedaled by people who previously interviewed him OR sensationalized by people who dislike him.

Well, at least he’s owning it, you guys. The fact that he said it, that is. Not the fact that he’s a garbage “journalist” who will sell his soul for ratings.


Brian Stelter has really mastered the art of shameless hackery.