Fake News: Stormy Daniels' Lawyer NOT Arrested For Assault

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fake News: Stormy Daniels' Lawyer NOT Arrested For Assault

Was Michael Avenatti (the lawyer of porn star Stormy Daniels who claims President Trump had an affair with her) arrested for assault in downtown Washington after attacking Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen?

Nope, none of that happened, it is not true.

That story appeared in a fiction article published on March 28, 2018 on World News Daily titled "BREAKING: Stormy's Sleazy Lawyer Arrested For Assault" (archived here) which opened:

Stormy's sleazy lawyer was arrested in downtown Washington DC tonight after pushing President Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, into a fountain in the lobby of the Trump DC hotel. Cohen, who is already suing the sleazeball, immediately called the DC Metro Police and had him arrested for assault and battery. Because it happened on federal land, which extends to 4 blocks from the National Mall, he's looking at a federal charge as well.

Cohen released a statement saying he was disturbed that he was attacked over a professional dispute

The link to the supposed statement goes to a Google search for "bozo", an informal name for an idiot, an incompetent or a clown.

The headline and summary visible on social media make it quite obvious the article is meant to evoke strong emotional reactions from conservatives and Republicans:

BREAKING: Stormy's Sleazy Lawyer Arrested For Assault

Hahahahahaha!!!

This is the kind of thing the site Daily World Update specializes in: trolling gullible right-wingers into believing fake stories so they can be mercilessly mocked when they like, share or comment on them on social media.

We wrote about dailyworldupdate.com and their trolling antics before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites such as ladiesofliberty.net, shareotonin.com and dailyworldupdate.com. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". He has at least one accomplice who writes under the pen names "Freedom", "Captain Jellypants", "Butch Mannington" or "Captain Buck Atlantis".

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

Updates:

  • 2020-02-05T14:10:41Z 2020-02-05T14:10:41Z
    Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represented Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, was arrested by IRS agents on January 14, 2020, and ordered to remain in jail on charges of extorting Nike for as much as $25 million and stealing millions more from clients, including Daniels, an adult-film actress. This is unrelated to the fake news noted in this Lead Stories debunk. A day after his arrest while appearing before the California State Bar Court in Los Angeles during a disciplinary hearing, a judge ordered Avenatti - who has a history of arrests - to remain detained, according to the Washington Post.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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