At this point, I feel like I know Michael Avenatti well enough that I feel as though I should send him a Christmas card or something this year. I don’t really like or dislike the man, but every time I turn on the TV, there he is with that steely gaze and jaw of his talking tough against the president and defending his client, Stormy Daniels. I mean, good for him, I guess. No matter what comes of this debacle, I’m sure his profile is soaring through the roof, and as long as he keeps his head about him, he’s sure to be in for a big windfall.
Maybe that’s why the economy is doing so well right now. So many of us are in the Trump business. I’m writing this column about him—more or less—so I guess I am, too. It was one of the things I took away from comedian Michelle Wolff’s scathing (to put it mildly) and often hilarious 19-minute set at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, during which she berated members of the press for profiting from President Trump’s antics.
“[Trump] couldn’t sell steaks, or vodka, or water, or college, or ties, or [his son] Eric. But he has helped you sell your papers, and books and TV,” Wolff said. “You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him.”
And she’s probably right, though to be fair, it’s not like the press can ignore someone when they’re running for President of the United States. Trump probably got more ink than, say, I would have if I was running, which is sad, because I think it would be a lot cooler story if I were a candidate. Who the fuck am I, right? Everyone could be like, “Look at this guy over here, running for president. Who the fuck is he, right?” Maybe Jimmy Kimmel would have had me on to patronize me or something. Or Sean Hannity could have smirked smugly, like, “Can you believe this idiot?” And then the nation would have been united in its belief that I had no business running for the highest office in the land and had a good chuckle at my expense. It’s OK. It wouldn’t have been the first time that happened. And hey, they all would have been right to laugh. It’s not like I have a lick of political experience. You’d have to be crazy to vote for a novice like me for president …
Anyway, if you like watching powerful people squirm in their seats, you should definitely check out Wolff’s dismantling of, well, pretty much everyone who has played some role in this crazy roller coaster ride most of us have been forced into the past couple of years.
Unfortunately—and I’m sure this comes as little surprise—the President didn’t attend this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, though Wolff said she would have dragged him there, “but turns out the President of the United States is the one pussy you are not allowed to grab.” Yeah, it was pretty brutal.
She’s right, of course, that Trump has been good for business as far as the media goes. If the administration has been good at anything, it’s been making stories. I’m sure they’ve done some policy stuff that is probably awful, like the tax plan, but really they just kind of roll out talking points and oddball characters like a well-oiled machine while they do whatever it is they’re doing behind the scenes.
Now they’re running Rudy Giuliani out there. That’s been great, because I think we were all burnt out on the usual people doling out the conflicting stories and misinformation, so it’s nice to have someone new to talk about. It’s sort of a reboot, too, for Giuliani, whose star has faded somewhat in recent years, and I’m sure that hasn’t sat well with him. Now he’s one of Trump’s lawyers or something? I mean, I think he is. But he’s out there on television all the time saying things he shouldn’t, like commenting on the release of American journalists detained by North Korea, and then going on another show to backtrack on the things he said in the previous show and making new statements that he’ll have to clarify on the next show. In that regard, he’s doing a great job. That’s a lot of must-see minutes he’s generating. I love how he’s saying that he’s still a new member of the team and needs to get up to speed on stuff, but it seems like maybe he should have done that before he started making all of these television appearances so it wouldn’t come off like this vaunted legal team that’s supposed to be representing the president in like a billion possible court cases and has seen members come and go on a weekly basis actually has its shit together. But then we’d have to talk about something else, and that would have been really bad for business.
**This column first appeared in print on page 34 of issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**