NBC News turns on Michael Avenatti over Julie Swetnick, but it concealed problem (Updated)
We just found out what NBC News knew on October 3 – Supporting sworn statement by a second woman presented by Avenatti was disavowed.
Michael Avenatti was the darling of the liberal media when he served the purpose of representing Stormy Daniels. But that ship has sailed, with her defamation case against Trump being thrown out of court, with Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees.
The media doubled-down on Avenatti’s star status when just before the hearings on the accusations by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, Avenatti released a declaration by Julie Swetnick making outlandish claims. Those Swetnick claims were that she witnessed Kavanaugh spiking the punch at high school parties and helping organize up to 10 gang rape parties.
Kavanaugh vigorously denied the claims, as did Mark Judge who allegedty was present, and dozens of high school classmates who said they never heard of Swetnick or ever heard of such gang rape parties.
Swetnick’s claims were so outlandish that many Democrats blamed Avenatti for Ford’s claims being dismissed by association. Susan Collins specifically mentioned the outrageous accusations by Swetnick in her speech announcing she would support Kavanaugh:
Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Professor Ford, but of the allegation that, when he was a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facilitate gang rape. This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others. That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness.
Swetnick’s credibility was challenged not only on the allegations, but as to her history of allegedly making false accusations and aggressive behavior towards others.
The Swetnick claims set the media on fire, nonetheless, and were run by NBC News, among others. NBC News also interviewed Swetnick after Kavanaugh testified (but before the Senate floor vote), and Swetnick’s claims fell apart. She walked back her supposed eyewitness observations of Kavanaugh spiking the punch or participating in any manner in gang rapes, Julie Swetnick’s rape train claims against Kavanaugh crash and burn in NBC Interview.
Mediaite noted of the interview, Kavanaugh Accuser Julie Swetnick Backtracks on Some Claims in Extensive NBC News Interview:
NBC News noted there were differences in Swetnick’s initial statement and her comments to the outlet, notably her assertion that Kavanaugh spiked punch at the parties so that groups of boys could rape girls.
Swetnick did not confirm that she saw Kavanaugh spike punch, but simply said she “saw him around the punch containers.”
“I don’t know what he did,” she told NBC.
She also appeared to backtrack on her suggestion that Kavanaugh was involved in gang rapes, saying she only saw him congregated with other boys outside of rooms. When Snow asked if she thought the boys were gathered in order to rape girls in the rooms, Swetnick replied “yes.”
“It’s just too coincidental,” she said.
She continued that she came to that realization when she was raped herself. She said her assault happened at a party at the hands of multiple boys after her drink was spiked. She said that while she did not know if Kavanaugh and Judge participated in her rape, they were at the party near her where she began to feel sick.
It was so bad, NBC cautioned in connection with the interview that it could not independently corroborate Swetnick’s accusations.
But now more information has come out, and it appears that NBC News had very good information that a declaration Avenatti presented from another woman to back up Swetnick was not true. But NBC News never released that information at the time, when it could have made an even bigger impact on the floor vote.
Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee referred Swetnick and Avenatti to the Department of Justice and FBI for criminal investigation:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley today referred Julie Swetnick and her attorney Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for criminal investigation relating to a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation, three separate crimes, in the course of considering Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.
While the Committee was in the middle of its extensive investigation of the late-breaking sexual-assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Avenatti publicized his client’s allegations of drug- and alcohol-fueled gang rapes in the 1980s. The obvious, subsequent contradictions along with the suspicious timing of the allegations necessitate a criminal investigation by the Justice Department….
The referral methodically details the issues with Swetnick’s allegations as relayed by Avenatti, the immediate diversion of committee resources to investigate those allegations, the subsequent contradictions by both Swetnick and Avenatti, the lack of substantiating or corroborating evidence, and the overarching and serious credibility problems pervading the presentation of these allegations.
NBC News, all of the sudden, then decided to come clean, in part. But NBC News is framing the issue as if it were duped, when in fact it duped the public.
Here is NBC News’ report, released at almost 7 p.m. on October 25, 2018, New Questions raised about Avenatti claims regarding Kavanaugh:
When Sen. Chuck Grassley referred attorney Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for criminal investigation Thursday, he cited Swetnick’s interview with NBC News as evidence the two were trying to mislead the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In the NBC News interview that aired on Oct. 1, Swetnick back-tracked on or contradicted parts of her sworn statement where she alleged she witnessed then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of boys.”
NBC News also found other apparent inconsistencies in a second sworn statement from another woman whose statement Avenatti provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bid to bolster Swetnick’s claims.
In the second statement, the unidentified woman said she witnessed Kavanaugh “spike” the punch at high school parties in order to sexually take advantage of girls. But less than 48 hours before Avenatti released her sworn statement on Twitter, the same woman told NBC News a different story.
Referring to Kavanaugh spiking the punch, “I didn’t ever think it was Brett,” the woman said to reporters in a phone interview arranged by Avenatti on Sept. 30 after repeated requests to speak with other witnesses who might corroborate Swetnick’s claims. As soon as the call began, the woman said she never met Swetnick in high school and never saw her at parties and had only become friends with her when they were both in their 30s.
When asked in the phone interview if she ever witnessed Kavanaugh act inappropriately towards girls, the woman replied, “no.” She did describe a culture of heavy drinking in high school that she took part in, and said Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were part of that group.
Chuck Todd is presenting this as a case of NBC News being tricked:
Was this an intentional attempt to mislead our reporters? Evidence points that way… https://t.co/MOxE8WiGK4
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) October 26, 2018
But the evidence is that NBC News was aware of the problem at the time.
The timing is critical. The second Kavanaugh/Ford hearing was on September 27. The Senate floor vote was October 5. Collins announced her vote (Yes) mid-afternoon on October 4, as did Lisa Murkowski (No).
The time period in between the testimony and the floor vote was filled with media and Democrat insanity, including attempts to intimidate Republican Senators. During this time period, the FBI also updated its background check on Kavanaugh, including witness interviews.
So when did NBC News learn of the problem with Swetnick and Avenatti? Here’s that the NBC News report yesterday showed (emphasis added):
According to the second woman’s declaration that Avenatti provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, she said: “During the years 1981-82, I witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol. I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.'”
The statement also said that Kavanaugh was “overly aggressive and verbally abusive to girls. This conduct included inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature.”
But reached by phone independently from Avenatti on Oct. 3, the woman said she only “skimmed” the declaration. After reviewing the statement, she wrote in a text on Oct. 4 to NBC News: “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch…I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.”
When pressed about abusive behavior towards girls, she wrote in a text: “I would not ever allow anyone to be abusive in my presence. Male or female.”
Shortly after tweeting out the woman’s allegations on Oct. 2, Avenatti confirmed to NBC News that it was the same woman interviewed by phone on Sept. 30. But when questioned on Oct. 3 about the discrepancies between what she said in the phone interview and the serious allegations in the sworn declaration, Avenatti said he was “disgusted” with NBC News. At one point, in an apparent effort to thwart the reporting process, he added in the phone call, “How about this, on background, it’s not the same woman. What are you going to do with that?”
So according to NBC News itself, it found out about the problems no later than October 3, two days before the Senate floor vote and the day before Collins and Murkowski announced how they would vote. It received further confirmation on October 4.
But we just heard about this YESTERDAY.
Kavanaugh was confirmed, but think about how the trajectory would have been different has NBC News revealed the problems with Swetnick’s claims and Avenatti’s back up evidence on October 3 and 4.
If you weren’t angry about how the media treated Kavanaugh before, you should be now.
The NBC News admission is the basis for a second criminal referral of Avenatti by the Judiciary Committee:
Yesterday, I wrote to you referring Mr. Michael Avenatti and Ms. Julie Swetnick for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001, and 1505, for materially false statements they made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the course of the Committee’s investigation into allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. I write today because of important additional information regarding Mr. Avenatti that has since come to the Committee’s attention. In light of this new information, I am now referring Mr. Avenatti for investigation of additional potential violations of those same laws, stemming from a second declaration he submitted to the Committee that also appears to contain materially false statements. As explained below, according to NBC News, the purported declarant of that sworn statement has disavowed its key allegations and claimed that Mr. Avenatti “twisted [her] words.”
Full letter at the link above.
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I’m not very impressed, but the press is free to conceal information, kill stories and refuse to publish the truth as it sees fit. That’s life. That’s been life for centuries. The media has a right to be free – and a right not to be fair. The two go hand in hand, and always have.
Let’s see, OK to publish LIES that YOU KNOW are lies, intentionally to try to destroy a person and you think this is OK ?
That behavior is exactly why some of us say THEY ARE THE ENEMY of the people !
Just because you’re free to smoke cigars four times a day doesn’t mean I think it’s OK. But you’re free to do it.
Since NBC said it couldn’t independently corroborate the accusations, it was already hedging to a very large degree. The fresh report basically amounts to, “NBC didn’t publish exculpatory information that would have aided Kavanaugh’s Senate floor battle.”
Yeah? They’re not cops. They’re not required to do any such thing. Their freedoms exist regardless of whether those freedoms are convenient to you and I.
Yet their partisanship shows, and American opinion makes the conviction in our court of public opinion. Live by feeding the mob, die by starving your credibility.
No newspaper ever died for the wrong reason. The internet may have brought about their demise, but most of them voluntarily sped up the process with a serious loss of credibility. I wouldn’t put it past the Oregonian to lie about football scores.
American-style freedom does not = the freedom to do what you want. It means you do what you ought. An irresponsible freedom is useless.
If you cannot understand how wrong this is, how damaging it is, you have problems.
It’s irresponsible to publish allegations you cannot even remotely corroborate yourself. It’s wrong to use such publications as part of a campaign to destroy someone’s reputation. It also happens all the time, and always has.
I can’t square the idea the media is required to be fair with what I know of American media from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The idea of a sedate and fair media is much… newer than the First Amendment.
Oh, sure. It’s always happened, therefore nothing to see here, move along, no consequences necessary.
I used to be a journalist. I also have a closet full of storage boxes that contain nothing but thousands and thousands of news clippings from the 19th and 18th centuries, because I used to study this kind of stuff for various reasons. Right now we are living in an era with the most irresponsible journalists and examples of irresponsible journalism in American history. It wasn’t the era of yellow journalism, which lasted 4-5 years and for the most part everyone involved was open about their political stance and not pretending to be objective. It wasn’t the 1900s, not the 1800s, not the 1700s. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen the worst of it.
Why you can’t outright condemn this nonsense or recognize how detrimental it is to the health of our republic, I’ll never understand.
I condemn the idiots for withholding relevant information about an issue they were covering and denying the public the right to know what NBC knew at the time.
I have no problem doing that at all. I just don’t feel the need to say it like some disclaimer with everything I write. They have the right to tank their credibility and be crucified in the court of public opinion, as another comment said. My point, at the start, was simply that they have the right to be unfair – they will therefore, with great regularity, be unfair. We should expect it. How we react is the next question.
but then they better STFU when they get called #FakeNews instead of whining.
Does NBC offer cheese with that whine?
You are correct as far as you go. You are not allowed to hide data that is injurious to your “cause” and then claim that you do not put out #FakeNews. And NBC IS a king of #FakeNews.
Hmmm… anyone know a good libel/defamation lawyer Bret could retain to sue the 5hit out of everyone involved in this?
Fake news, huh?
Imagine that. Maybe the President is on to something.
If they’re free to behave like this, the President is free to criticize them for it. That’s how it should be.
Of course I’ll happily criticize them too.
Absence of Malice
“I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” — Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca
Nobody is surprised when a bear attacks a human. Nobody is surprised when the sun rises in the east. Nobody is surprised when feces stinks. We should also not be surprised when the free press slants a story in the way they see fit. It’s just the nature of the universe.
does this surprise anyone, NBC has a history of “fake new”, that goes well beyond Trump
Hey… is this the subject of Grassley’s second criminal referral to the DoJ? Information that “came to the committee’s attention” in the last day relating to another sworn statement coming from someone Ms. Swetnick knows… that sounds like what we’ve been discussing, which NBC only just brought to light yesterday?
So from the comments here, it is ‘OK’ for the media to lie. What a wonderful world we live in where President Trump is so smart.He’s been calling them fake news since he declared for office. Who would have thunk it. The President is proven right again.
No I am not tired of winning yet.
I assume you mean me. This, rather, is what I think:
A) The media has a moral obligation to report the truth, not a legal one.
B) The media therefore should be expected to conveniently not report things it doesn’t want to report until days, weeks, months, years after the fact, despite knowing better.
C) Why be surprised? There’s no cost to the media for this behavior, by design.
Which leads to D), good thing there’s blogs, sites and Presidents still able to exercise their rights to free speech, because the media will not be our knight in shining armor riding to save us. I hope that clarifies.
Grammar Nitpick Alert!
“NBC News, all of the sudden, then decided to come clean, in part.”
The correct phrase is “all of a sudden,” which dates back to the time of Shakespeare according to Grammarist.com. I urge everyone to fight the good fight against this spreading evil wherever you find it. Also beware of its despicable brethren:
“by purpose” (should be “on purpose”)
“on accident” (should be “by accident”)
These too should be met with hostility and driven out whenever encountered.
This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you on behalf of Suffering English Teachers everywhere.
Thank you and God bless you, and God bless the USA.
Avenatti must now be the front runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
I’m shocked, shocked, to learn that NBC manipulated their news reporting for political purposes.
NBC is part of a small oligarchy granted a license from the FCC permitting it to broadcast over the airwaves.
I assume the license holder has certain obligations and responsibilities to maintain the license. I have no idea what those are. But I wonder if suddenly disclosing this info now has something to do with its status as a licensee.
The timing is weird.