Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti are now feuding, and it seems this might very well be the end of their relationship. This seems related to Daniels’ complaint to the Daily Beast that Avenatti filed the Donald Trump defamation lawsuit without her consent (which she lost and was obligated to pay hefty legal fees on).
Additionally, Daniels complained that Avenatti obfuscated details of how more than $400k in crowdfunded monies raised for Daniels’ legal defense have been spent. In recent days, Avenatti started yet another crowdfunded campaign without Daniels’ consent (if anyone can believe her), using language which implied her intimate involvement (the campaign has apparently been suspended, although Avenatti’s tweet announcing it still persists at the time of this writing). (Update: this campaign and another by Avenatti related to migrant mothers and their children are under review.)
To top it off, this morning Avenatti was publicizing apparently passive aggressive ‘Streisand effect’-like news about his client, and about why his audience of close to 900k Twitter followers should “reserve judgement” about a police report which was filed against Stormy Daniels and her ex-husband by a gay couple who alleged homophobic slurs were levied at them in the course of a business dispute (one of Avenatti’s steadfast exes helpfully shared the actual article about it— and being from an obscure source — it isn’t likely people would have found the article or known of it otherwise). (Classy people, these Michael Avenatti clients and lady friends.)
While all of this is leaving the question up in the air of whether Daniels and Avenatti have turned on one another, and if his advocacy of her is done for good, it also has me asking if Michael Avenatti’s use of the Twitter platform to preempt a series of incendiary cultural/political debates about sex and race — not to mention his use of it for potential financial malfeasance – might be sufficient grounds for him to be banned there.
I had recently done a quick year-to-date Google Trends analysis of Michael Avenatti, which was unrelated to the Twitter question. Surprisingly however, it shows just how correlated public interest is in him with Twitter. I think this objectively demonstrates how essential the platform is to the enablement of his campaign of apparent lies, hate, and division.
As you can see, Stormy Daniels is actually not highest on either the correlated topics or queries about Avenatti. In fact, it seems (based on it being the largest spike) that he got the most attention for his Julie Swetnick-Brett Kavanaugh debacle (this was arguably the start of the downfall of his image in the press as some kind of anti-Trump savior).
In general, it seems that people are most interested in Michael Avenatti in the context of finding out what he is saying on Twitter about Donald Trump (presumably with a hope that Avenatti is some kind of fighter who can bring Trump down or help impeach him). Avenatti has experienced multiple spikes in interest, but only the initial one in March 2018 which brought him to notoriety had much to do with Stormy Daniels apparently.
Judging by the data to date, and Avenatti’s apparent ursurping of his client’s popularity, it seems quite possible that Avenatti treated Daniels as a stepping stone for his own media and political aspirations. His discarding of Julie Swetnick seems to indicate he treated her that way too. This is all topped off with a domestic violence charge and other legal woes. While this undoubtedly signals his mainstream political support is sure to continue to erode — unbelievably, Avenatti ‘delusionally’ has not officially backed away from his Presidential dreams and continues to push his ‘Fight PAC’.
Though I couldn’t find any information on Twitter’s ‘Rules and policies’ about misrepresentation/misappropriation related to funds raised through Twitter-enabled crowdfunding campaigns, I did find that there is a clear repeated pattern of Michael Avenatti stirring up racial and sexist hatred and using Twitter as the platform for it.
Here is the Twitter Guideline on Hateful Conduct which covers it:
Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.
This provision includes a section entitled: ‘Inciting fear about a protected category’ which states:
We prohibit targeting individuals with content intended to incite fear or spread fearful stereotypes about a protected category, including asserting that members of a protected category are more likely to take part in dangerous or illegal activities, e.g., “all [religious group] are terrorists”.
A subsection entitled: ‘Repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone’ states:
We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.
Notwithstanding Avenatti’s highly miscalculated statement that the 2020 nominee of the Democratic Party [apparently implying himself or someone like him] “had better be a white male“, Avenatti has provably engaged in a systemic and hypocritical self-serving pattern of abuse towards what he refers to as ‘old white misogynist men‘. This is in the context of sexual violence and political repression of women. Avenatti has used Twitter and his large following as the platform for that campaign of self-aggrandizing political division. (This is similar to – and synergistic with – the whole of the accusations which Avenatti brought against Brett Kavanaugh in the form of Julie Swetnick — which earned Avenatti two separate criminal referrals from the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
A series of Tweets from late September 2018 makes the case:
Yes, especially coming from a bunch of old white misogynist men who have no problem watching porn and no problem kissing up to a man that sleeps with porn stars. And they did it at the same time they are seeking to install a justice that will attempt to roll back women’s rights. – 5:36 PM – 27 Sep 2018
Senator Grassley just outright lied to the American people. See the emails I posted yesterday. These men have no shame. They will do anything and say anything to install Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court so he can trample women’s rights. This is an absolute disgrace. – 7:18 AM – 28 Sep 2018
.@realDonaldTrump @LindseyGrahamSC @ChuckGrassley and all of the other GOP misogynists in the US Senate can attack me all they want. I will respond in kind and then some. These old white men still don’t understand that assault victims and women deserve respect and to be heard. – 8:14 AM – 28 Sep 2018
These old white men like @tedcruz will say anything. They are now claiming that Mark Judge can’t testify publicly because he suffers from depression, etc. As the below shows, this is a complete lie. These misogynists must not know there is something called Google. – 9:16 AM – 28 Sep 2018
It seems unambiguous that measured against the Twitter ‘Guideline on Hateful Conduct‘, these examples do in some measure fulfill criteria of prohibited Twitter content.
- Target “old white men” (that is a clearly combined context of Age and Race and Gender — all categories which Twitter policy claims it protects. Facebook specifically protects ‘White Men’ as a protected class).
- Allege that such old white men are misogynists (spreading a blanketing and fearful stereotype with no nuance – within the context of rape and sex allegations that rhetorically considers all ‘old white men’ as enemies of women who will take their rights away).
- The claims are repeated.
Michael Avenatti should be banned from Twitter for the very same reasons which Alex Jones was banned from Twitter. I think the rationale is just. People should not be able to use their large social media followings to falsely ‘yell fire’ in the ‘crowded theater of the internet’ and to turn their followers on political enemies like a weaponized ‘firehose’. No member of a protected class should have a free pass to be a bigot against their own class simply because they are a member of that class — similarly, just because they are a pseudo-celebrity who is of a certain protected class, they should not be empowered use a huge platform like Twitter and a large following to push such unfortunate views on ‘mainstream’ society.
Based on Avenatti’s apparent performance related to the Daniels’ crowdsourced legal fund, is it reasonable for people to worry about where money for his Twitter-advertised FightPac might go? (Beto O’Rourke didn’t seem too jazzed about the apparently shady campaign Avenatti waged on his behalf.)
Further, Twitter is not a constitutional guarantor of free speech. They are a business who can refuse the right to serve anyone they wish. I think it is clear that it is in the best long term interests of executives, shareholders, and regulators that divisive figures like Avenatti (or Alex Jones) be ‘well curated’ there. If public figures are subject to high burdens of proof to prove defamation, then social media influencers should be held to similarly high burdens of proof to maintain their profitable public platform. If they repeatedly abuse that platform, they should lose it.
If a well-deserved Twitter ban doesn’t crush Avenatti’s cockroach-like social media existence, then perhaps nothing will.