Michael Avenatti, the disgraced adult film lawyer who went from liberal media darling and potential presidential candidate to a prison jumpsuit in a shockingly short period of time, just received another dose of bad news to continue his streak in 2021.
According to Mediaite, Avanatti’s attempt to sue Fox News for defamation — to the tune of $250 million — found out this week that his lawsuit was dismissed. In no uncertain terms, a federal judge sided with Fox News on the matter, saying claims made at the network describing Avenatti were “substantially true” and didn’t amount to defamation.
“We are pleased with the Court’s swift decision in favor of Fox News,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement to Mediaite. “Today’s ruling is a victory for journalists everywhere, who should not be intimidated into silence when bullies like Michael Avenatti file baseless multimillion-dollar lawsuits.”
The lawsuit originally came into existence in 2018, after the disgraced attorney was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse. Avenatti apparently didn’t care for some of the commentary coming from several Fox News hosts and believed it to be defamatory in nature.
Avenatti’s ex-wives would eventually tell authorities that he was never violent toward them and ultimately, prosecutors would drop the case in 2019.
He took issue with Fox News’ reporting on the arrest, but as the judge noted, the network carefully used words like “alleged, “charged,” and “accusations,” thus never incorrectly reporting that Avenatti was arrested on the domestic violence charge. Even network hosts, like Laura Ingraham, added that she was “joking” after her remarks about the attorney.
“Some comments, while caustic, are protected opinion,” wrote Delaware Third Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas. “Many others are substantially true. But opinions and minor inaccuracies cannot anchor a defamation claim.”
Adding to Avenatti’s challenges to prove defamation, which is already difficult for regular people, is that he was considered a national figure. The standard to prove defamation is exceedingly higher for public figures and celebrities.
Avenatti would later be charged and convicted of attempting to extort Nike out of tens of millions of dollars. Earlier this year he was sentenced to a 30-year prison term as a result.