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How to Trash Talk Like Avenatti

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

There's no doubt that Michael Avenatti is a force to be reckoned with in the media. His television appearances get attention not just because his high-profile cases are hot news topics, but because he knows how to present himself.

That's why when Avenatti talks trash, or shuts down another lawyer or a pundit, he still gets invited back again and again to appear on TV. And regardless of how you personally feel about him, there's no denying he's built a lasting personal brand on a national level, that goes beyond just his personal hashtag, to a recognizable public persona.

Below are three tips on how to help you talk trash like Avenatti.

1. Don't Lose Your Cool, Be Professional

In a recent appearance on CNN, Avenatti was put head to head with Alan Dershowitz to stage a day-time talk show-like confrontation between the lawyer and Dershowitz. Dershowitz had tweeted something out essentially calling Avenatti's ethics into question, then attempted to defend it when asked about it on CNN.

Dershowitz repeatedly said that he didn't want to get personal, then described what he believed happened that constituted an ethical lapse as a hypothetical. After he finished, Avenatti, without losing his cool, told Dershowitz:

"You keep saying you don't want to get personal with me, and you keep getting personal with me, including on Fox the other night, and well now, I'm gonna tell you, I don't appreciate it."

Having to pull out middle-school level conflict resolution skills on someone bandying about hypothetical accusations is just ice cold, yet perfectly reasonable, and professional.

2. Show 'Em, Don't Tell 'Em

Another way Avenatti shuts down opponents is by using specific examples and specific facts. In the above exchange on CNN, while Dershowitz was backtracking his statement into a third person hypothetical, Avenatti just went right for the throat:

"Alan, you really need to start talking only about things that you know about as opposed to things you have no knowledge about."

Making it clear that a declarant is not basing their statements on personal knowledge of the facts is perhaps the most effective legal shut down. Avenatti effectively dodged Dershowitz's accusations by pulling the rug out from under him.

3. When It Just Keeps Coming, Give the Audience a Thrill

Unfortunately for Dershowitz, he didn't know when to bow out, and Avenatti isn't the type to leave a stone unturned. And since a declarant's reputation is usually fair game (particularly on TV), he leveled Dershowitz with the following zinger (for context, Dershowitz had claimed to have been shunned from Martha's Vineyard events for supporting President Trump):

"You need to go back and concentrate on what invites you get at Martha's Vineyard, since that appears to be what you are really good at."

Okay ... maybe you might want to avoid this last one.

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