Far-Right News Site Forced To Retract Baseless Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels Affair Story

The far-right news outlet One America News Network was forced on Monday to retract a baseless story about Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s onetime personal attorney, that claimed he had an affair with porn actor Stormy Daniels and “cooked up” a scheme to extort the former president.

OAN’s March 27 article was based on a single, unverified social media post that said the affair allegation had initially come from Michael Avenatti, an attorney who once represented Daniels.

Avenatti denied making the claim, saying in a statement from prison that “you folks should be smarter than to believe this nonsense.”

The piece had been titled “Whistleblower: Avenatti Alleged Cohen Daniels Affair Since 2006, Pre-2016 Trump Extortion Plan.”

Both Cohen and Daniels are key figures in Trump’s ongoing hush money trial in a Manhattan courtroom. The case hinges on the claim that Trump falsified business records in order to cover up payments made to keep allegations of the extramarital affair from coming out just before the 2016 election. (Trump denies the affair and has pleaded not guilty.)

Self-proclaimed investor and “CIA/NSA contractor/whistleblower” Tony Seruga, the author of the post OAN cited, wrote that Avenatti once told him Daniels and Cohen had a romantic relationship. Seruga wrote that “the whole hush money scheme” had been “cooked up” by Cohen in order to “extort” the Trump Organization.

OAN writer Brooke Mallory embedded the post in her article and wrote that, “if confirmed,” the man’s claim “would shatter the story surrounding Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump that Biden and the liberal mainstream media have been hanging onto for years.”

It is not clear what steps, if any, Mallory took to verify the claim.

Avenatti denied making any comments about an alleged affair between Daniels and Cohen.

“This retraction is part of a settlement reached with Michael Cohen. Mr. Avenatti has denied making the allegations. OAN apologizes to Mr. Cohen for any harm the publication may have caused him,” said a statement from the network.

It went on: “Mr. Cohen alerted OAN to the false statements. OAN promptly investigated and learned that Mr. Avenatti denied making the allegations. To be clear, no evidence suggests that Mr. Cohen and Ms. Daniels were having an affair and no evidence suggests that Mr. Cohen ‘cooked up’ the scheme to extort the Trump Organization before the 2016 election.”

Cohen said he was pleased that the story was retracted.

“The notion that right before the election I would extort the man I fervently supported and believed was about to become president, all to make $130,000 that I did not even keep for myself, is beyond absurd. It’s just plain stupid,” he said in a statement.

Avenatti’s statement on Cohen’s settlement with OAN had been taken through a paralegal, according to OAN’s statement.

“The story is completely fabricated, untrue and bogus, and is nothing more than a ridiculous attempt by this idiot [the Source] to try and escape being a nobody,” Avenatti’s statement said, apparently referring to Seruga.

Avenatti is serving a 19-year sentence at a federal prison in the Los Angeles area after being convicted in 2022 of stealing money from clients and dodging taxes.