CNN's Brian Stelter defends Avenatti coverage, his past praise as a 2020 'contender'

CNN chief media correspondent and "Reliable Sources" anchor Brian Stelter defended the extensive coverage disgraced anti-Trump attorney Michael Avenatti received when making his debut as the legal representation of adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

This week, Avenatti was hit with another round of criminal charges, this time over his alleged defrauding of Daniels. This latest legal troubled renewed criticism of the media coverage he had received, which was mostly glowing as he was seen as a warrior in the #Resistence and many believed he might have a role in takedown of resident Trump.

A mash-up from the Washington Free Beacon featured an interview Stelter had with Avenatti, propping up the lawyer's prospects of a presidential run.

"I don't know that it's a good thing that star power and TV savvy is required for the job, but I think it is," Stelter told Avenatti, pointing to President Obama and President Trump as examples. "Looking ahead to 2020, one of the reasons why I'm taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news."

In his nightly newsletter sent on Thursday night, Stelter justified the coverage Avenatti received, saying there was "lots of reasons" why he was "newsworthy."

"There are lots and lots of reasons why Avenatti was newsworthy when he was representing Stormy Daniels. Journalists did their jobs and questioned him — some more effectively than others," Stelter wrote. "Critics are doing their jobs and questioning the coverage — and that makes all of us better. But bad faith arguments make us all worse off."

The "Reliable Sources" host then defended his previous praise for Avenatti as 2020 "contender," insisting that his argument "still holds" about successful presidential candidates having to be TV stars.

"My thesis back then, which still holds, is that all future US presidents will be television stars of some sort. TV star power will be a prerequisite for the presidency," Stelter argued. "[That's why] I told Avenatti 'one reason I'm taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.'"

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Stelter made it clear, however, that he was not "taking him seriously anymore" and that he "owns" his comments.