Star journos assume she has: Has Stephanie Clifford been threatened with physical harm?
We don't know the answer to that. Clifford's lawyer has been making that claim since last Friday morning—but he's offered no evidence in support of the claim, and he's been willing to answer few questions.
We've suggested that the lawyer, Michael Avenatti, should be frogmarched into the countryside for several years of reeducation, completely at the public expense. In the meantime, he can expect to receive one other benefit, free of charge:
On cable, American journalists will simply assume that his assertions are accurate.
Only one word can describe their behavior; their behavior is "sad." Consider the sad exchange which occurred last night on The 11th Hour:
WILLIAMS (3/19/18): What was being alleged there is that a sitting president was aware, was aware in real time, of threats being made to Stormy Daniels. That's a heck of a charge that we're going to learn more about, apparently.In fairness, Wine-Banks is a lawyer, a "legal expert;" she isn't mainly a journalist. She's also really, really looking forward to watching Sunday night's TV show, just like everyone else!
WINE-BANKS: I can't wait to learn more about it. I also would like to know what the timing of the threat was. Because of course, if the threat preceded her signing the nondisclosure agreement, it completely voids that agreement.
You cannot reach a fair contract if you are doing so under the duress of threat. But even if the threat came afterwards, it is a serious allegation that the president is involved in threatening witnesses. So we know that it's happened before, and it`s almost not surprising. The president himself has said that he could do almost anything, and wouldn't lose political support.
So maybe he's trying to prove it to us. I think we'll all know a lot more after the Sunday night interview, which I'm sure all of your viewers are looking forward to as much as I am.
WILLIAMS (wistfully): All the things we talk about around here these days.
WINE-BANKS: I know!
That said, she and Williams made little attempt to note that Avenatti's charge is an allegation, not an established fact. This basic distinction was left for dead as Wine-Banks rattled on.
At least nominally, Wine-Banks started out discussing Avenatti's latest "charge." Instantly, though, she seemed to transform his unsupported claim into an actual fact.
"I also would like to know what the timing of the threat was," Wine-Banks quickly said. Soon, she was explaining what might happen "even if the threat came afterwards"—after the non-disclosure agreement was signed.
Neither she nor Williams made any attempt to remind viewers of a key fact—the claim that Clifford was physically threatened is, as of now, an allegation. She regards the claim that Trump knew as an "allegation," but seems to regard the alleged threat itself as a fact.
As of now, there is no evidence that any such threat ever occurred. This particular claim may be true, of course.
Wags have said that anyone who deals with Michael Cohen ends up getting threatened at some point. Then too, Avenatti's claim could be false. This charge could be an invention.
Claims of such threats have been made in the past—and have turned out to be false. That doesn't mean this claim is false. It does suggest that a journalist should want to maintain standard professional skepticism.
Such skepticism has been hard to find in certain cable news precincts. Below, we'll link you to the three segments devoted to this topic on last Friday's Morning Joe.
Tomorrow, we'll run through the not-so-famous false allegation which could have gotten Cody Shearer killed. You've never heard about this event because the people who pose as journalists within our entertainment/propaganda systems don't want you to know that it ever occurred.
For today, we'll link you to the three segments devoted to this topic on last Friday's Morning Joe. The lack of skepticism was general that day as the excited boys and girls heard Avenatti make this claim for the very first time.
You'll have to search extremely hard to hear anyone warning you that this claim is, at present, an allegation. It goes without saying that nobody said that such allegations actually have, on occasion, turned out to be false in the past—that some people make this shit up.
Our country is sliding into the sea. The jugglers and clowns on cable TV have played a key role in this process.
A tale of three Morning Joe segments: Last Friday, Morning Joe devoted three segments to this exciting new claim.
For the most part, the cable performers simply assumed that the claim was true. In the second segment, legal expert Joyce Vance was an especially egregious offender.
The people you'll see are jugglers and clowns. Their behavior over the past thirty years helps explain how we all got here:
First segment: Near the end of this 12-minute first segment, Avenatti makes his claim for the first time. As he refuses to answer any questions about his claim, Mika starts to imagine the worst:
"Was her life threatened?" Mika asks. "Did anyone point a gun at her?"
There's little attempt to assert a key point. At the juncture, Avenatti is making an extremely fuzzy claim, and he's presented no evidence in support of his charge.
Second segment: In this second, 13-minute segment, Vance comes on and quickly assumes the accuracy of the claim, which she calls a "bombshell." She seems to restate this position as the segment ends.
Along the way, there are only the tiniest mentions of the fact that the claim is an allegation. As a general matter, we'd say that it's assumed throughout that the physical threat really occurred.
Third segment: Through some miracle of prescient booking, on came Jonathan Turley, Avenatti's former professor. Early in this 7-minute segment, Turley assures the world that Avenatti would never make a claim like that if the claim wasn't true, and if he didn't have proof.
Later, Turley seems to assume that there is no proof—that it will all come down to a "she said/they said" dispute. None of the pundits notice this switch. The children are useless, as always.
Our culture is sliding into the sea. These are the overpaid corporate clowns who have enabled Trump's ascent. Do we really think that overpaid, overfed "losers" like these can hope to turn Trump back?