“There’s a progression happening: We have President Trump because of reality television, and we have Avenatti because of President Trump,” says Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and the executive director of the American Press Institute. “But I’d argue we also have Avenatti because the left so desperately desires an anti-Trump: A person who can elicit the same dopamine reaction in his supporters that Trump can from his.”
Like Trump, Avenatti is all Freudian id, loudmouthed and cocky. “I’m a mercenary,” he acknowledged to me. “That’s what people hire me for, and I don’t apologize for it.” He traffics primarily in a commodity in short supply among left-leaning voters: hope. The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently told The New Yorker that she doesn’t “like to talk about impeachment,” but Avenatti has gleefully predicted Trump will be out of the office before his term ends. Robert Mueller, no matter the outcome of his investigation, is unlikely to ever call Rudolph Giuliani a “pig” or Michael Cohen a “moron”; Avenatti uses both insults so frequently that they have become a kind of refrain.