CNN, MSNBC Have Given Stormy Daniels Lawyer Michael Avenatti $175 Million in Earned Media

Michael Avenatti / YouTube
May 11, 2018

Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti has earned nearly $175 million in free media during his appearances on cable outlets MSNBC and CNN over the past two months, a Washington Free Beacon analysis shows.

Daniels, a porn actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she slept with President Donald Trump in 2006 and received a $130,000 hush payment from Trump's attorney Michael Cohen. She has also said she was physically threatened to keep silent about it. Trump has denied the affair.

The Washington Free Beacon analyzed 108 appearances by Avenatti on MSNBC and CNN over a 64-day period from March 7 to May 10. To calculate his earned media time, the Free Beacon multiplied the length of his appearances on a program by its "National Publicity Value" determination from media monitoring site

The total came out to $174,631,598.07 from at least 65 CNN appearances and 43 MSNBC appearances. Avenatti's favorite shows include CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" (at least 20 interviews), MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" (14), CNN's "New Day" (12), CNN's "Tonight with Don Lemon" (eight), and MSNBC's "Deadline White House" (seven).

As previously reported by conservative media watch dog NewsBusters, Avenatti has appeared on CNN an average of more than once per day during the period under analysis.

The combative lawyer has been a thorn in the Trump administration's side, predicting the president will not serve out his first term because of scandal. In his appearances, he often drops news nuggets, such as releasing documents purportedly showing Cohen selling access to Trump and saying his client was physically threatened while simultaneously teasing her "60 Minutes" interview.

Nor do Avenatti's appearances look to be ending any time soon. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's recent remark that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payout to Daniels—contradicting Trump's claim to know nothing about the payment—and reports on Cohen setting up shell companies to accept money from various entities continue to make Avenatti a popular booking target for cable news outlets.

Cohen's lawyers accused Avenatti of spreading misleading information about his financial history, and his caginess has also been a subject of criticism among conservatives.

While many of Avenatti's cable appearances have been one-on-one interviews, he has also appeared in several large panels on the programs and appeared on screen for lengths of time without speaking.

For eight of Avenatti's appearances on primetime MSNBC and CNN programs, a publicity value was not available, so no total was added in the Free Beacon calculation for those interviews.

His cable hits have not nearly been the extent of his media blitz. Avenatti has also been featured on CBS comedy show "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Showtime's "The Circus," NBC's "Megyn Kelly Today," ABC's "The View," HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," and network morning shows "Today," "CBS This Morning," and "Good Morning America."