Following the highly anticipated 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels, panelists on Monday’s Morning Joe changed their tone with regard to the scandal, approaching the story with a heretofore unseen level of skepticism. MSNBC contributor John Heilemann complained that the interview ‘fell short,’ while host Joe Scarborough and George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley questioned the porn star’s motives and credibility.
Scarborough took aim at Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Daniels, who had been very well-received as a guest on the show only weeks earlier. The host reminded viewers of the photo of a CD-ROM which Avenatti had tweeted a few days before the 60 Minutes segment aired. Like his compatriots, Scarborough had mistakenly assumed that whatever damning evidence the disc had contained would come out on the CBS News program:
He keeps waving around the CD. We keep hearing about pictures. What exactly are they waiting for if this is about truth, justice, and the American way instead of just a really big fat paycheck for her from some publication?
Having placed their faith in Avenatti only for him to fail to deliver the centerpiece for a new, scandalous headline, the panelists seemed to be losing their patience. As Heilemann put it, many viewers had assumed “that the story was going to be advanced in some dramatic material way,” by the 60 Minutes segment. “I think the interview in that sense fell short,” he concluded.
The panelists’ disappointment was compounded further the longer they discussed the story. Scarborough recalled a nugget of wisdom from his time as an attorney. “I remember being told, never over-promise. Under-promise, over-deliver and the jury will look positively on you,” he mused. “It seems to me that we have an attorney that’s done just the opposite.” Specifically, Scarborough had been referencing the dearth of new information about the man who had allegedly threatened Daniels – an aspect of the case that Avenatti had revealed on Morning Joe two weeks prior.
Turley took this critique a step further and began to question not only the credibility of Avenatti’s allegation, but also that of his client:
Well, there was a lot of lack of follow-up including, on credibility. You know, you have Stormy Daniels saying, “I just don’t want my kids to find out about this,” and it sort of left you with, “What? You had a career with dozens of porn movies and you were afraid your kid would find out you had a consensual relationship with the President?" I mean, those kind of disconnects weren’t followed up.
“The fact is, Stormy Daniels is not very credible,” he summarized, before adding, “She signed false statements.”
It is unclear whether the newfound skepticism displayed by Scarborough and others was genuine, or just an expression of their disappointment at not having more new material to run with. Regardless, Turley’s description of Daniels as 'not very credible' was a far cry from the seemingly unconditional credence that Daniels and Avenatti had been granted up to that point on Morning Joe.