The interviews are over. The presidential speculation is done. The cot that was seemingly put out for him in the newsroom of every major network, so that he could be ready to appear at a moment’s notice, has been rolled away.
All that’s left now is a lot of litigation and one question: How on earth did so many people take Michael Avenatti so seriously?
If you’re searching for answers in the lawyer’s recent interview piece with Vanity Fair, you’re not going to find them, even though it’s clear that we’re dealing with one of the world’s most unreliable narrators. (The interview was also conducted before he was charged with bilking money from his most famous client, pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, so we didn’t get any answers regarding that.)
To be fair, however, the dramatis personae include other figures in the Avenatti orbit for balance — including Mareli Miniutti, the former girlfriend who filed a restraining order for domestic violence against Avenatti late last year, an incident that ended the lawyer’s presidential pretensions and began the downward spiral in earnest.
In the article, Miniutti, who is 23 years younger than the 48-year-old Avenatti, claims that the physical abuse from Avenatti began in February of 2018.
“It was his birthday, and he had wanted to spend the night before going out with a friend who was in town. She went out separately with her friends, and when Avenatti returned to his apartment and saw that she was not yet home, he texted her, asking where she was,” Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox wrote.
“She said she told him that she would be home in an hour. When she got there, she said she could tell that he was drunk. She had been drinking, too, and he laid into her. ‘He was upset that I could be so disrespectful and selfish, on his birthday. If he texts me that he’s home, he told me that I should come right away and that that’s how relationships work.’
“She had gotten into bed before he jumped up and started yelling at her to ‘get the f— out. Get the f— out’ of the apartment,” Minutti alleged, according to Vanity Fair. “’I don’t want you here tonight,’ he told her. When she got up to leave, she said, he literally threw her out the door into the hallway, where she hit her head on the wall. ‘I made excuses after that,’ she said. ‘The excuse that time was that we were both drunk and emotional, and I really did not believe that he would do something like that again.’”
He allegedly did — last November, in an argument over money, according to the report. Minutti told Vanity Fair’s Fox that Avenatti “got hold of one of her arms and dragged her first across the carpet and then across a hardwood floor. He opened the door and flung her into the hallway.”
“‘I was so shocked and shaking that I couldn’t even stand up. I reached up to ring the doorbell for the apartment across the hallway and he saw me. ‘Are you f—ing insane?’ he said.’ He pulled her back inside and she warned him that if he did not give her phone back and let her go, she would count to three and start screaming,” Fox wrote.
“She started to panic when he didn’t budge. ‘That’s when I really started to freak and I asked him to please not come any closer.’ His demeanor immediately changed, she said. ‘He said, ‘Baby, come here. We’re so much better than this.’ I can’t even describe that moment and what his eyes looked like. Like a psychopath. All I could think was, He is going to hurt you.’
“She made her way to the guest bedroom, put on pants, and made a break for the door,” Fox wrote. “The elevator did not come fast enough, she said, so she walked toward the service elevators, where she knew there were cameras. He got in with her, pleading with her to not do this. She went down to the security desk in the lobby, where the attendants ultimately called the police.”
Avenatti’s arrest in the matter didn’t result in any charges, although it was the first time everyone in the media actually looked at an Avenatti-related red flag and didn’t just describe it as a flag that may have been reflecting more light on the higher end of the visible spectrum than elsewhere.
Fox’s piece doesn’t set out to answer why this was, although it’s made perfectly clear in the report that we’re dealing with someone whose self-delusions about his own behavior are appropriately movie-sized.
Read this answer about his decision to take on the Stormy Daniels case and try not to laugh:
“I asked him repeatedly to square why he would have made a decision to get into such a public life at the same time his private life was unraveling — if he wanted to get caught or punish himself or test the limits. Avenatti’s explanation was that he didn’t see this case rising to the level of attention that it had.”
“’I never imagined that this case would take on the magnitude that it did and would have thrust me into the spotlight and into the national spotlight like it did,’ Avenatti said. ‘I have said many, many times over the last year, this is either going to end really, really well, or really, really badly. I am most fearful of the fact that the rate of descent is greater than the rate of ascent. Some would argue at this point that I flew too close to the sun. As I sit here today, yes, absolutely, I know I did. No question. Icarus.’”
It’s also unclear why he was allowed to fly so close to the sun, given the fact that he was allegedly as psychopathic to those in the media as he was to those in his private life.
“He berated Time magazine after it published a story quoting him saying that the next Democratic nominee would likely have to be a white man, demanding that the publication release the transcript of his interview. He once threatened The Daily Caller with a defamation suit, messaging the reporter that ‘this is the last warning,'” Fox wrote in Vanity Fair.
“Behind the scenes, his behavior was even more volatile. ‘He had a terrible temper,’ one prime-time anchor told me. ‘He never lost it with me, or really with any of the talent, as far as I know, because it was mostly for the bookers or the people who were behind the scenes. But he would tell people, “I’m going to f—ing bury you. Why the f— would you do that?” if he didn’t like something.’ A number of reporters recalled that he would physically invade their space. ‘His nose gets millimeters from your face and it’s clear he knows no boundaries,’ one broadcast reporter and producer told me.”
Another booker made it clear just who they thought they were dealing with: “It felt like we were enabling a total rage-oholic,” the booker told Fox. “It was pathological.”
If any of these people were asked why they continued doing the enabling, their answers remain unrecorded for history.
And anyhow, Avenatti’s behavior certainly didn’t stop the cable news hype machine.
Last August, I remember watching an MSNBC panel right after Avenatti’s laugh-inducing visit to Iowa in which several members seriously thought this was the guy who was going to take down Trump — not in court, mind you, but at the ballot box.
“You look at the field of Democrats right now, and Avenatti’s the one who stands out. He’s the one who’s not a politician,” Philip Rucker, The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, said. “If he gives the base what they’re looking for and shows he can go toe-to-toe with Trump, he’d have a chance.”
“If they decide they value a fighter most, people would be foolish to underestimate Michael Avenatti,” MSNBC host Nicole Wallace said.
On Wednesday, less than a year after he was being hailed on that panel as a White House contender and someone who could single-handedly end the Trump presidency over l’affaire Stormy, Avenatti was being indicted for allegedly bilking money from Daniels.
It wasn’t his first indictment. You get the feeling it won’t be his last.
So, then, why did so many people in the media fall for Avenatti and excuse his blatant personal defects as charming?
One hopes the answer is obvious to them. One fears it isn’t.
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