Journalism in the Public Interest

Raising Cain: When Is a Scoop Ready to be Published?

One thing missing from Politico’s scoop on Herman Cain’s alleged sexual harassment: the underlying facts. 


Available Now: "Modern Muckraking: Journalism in the Age of the Internet," an e-book collection of Stephen Engelberg's earlier columns.

Politico’s story on possible sexual harassment by Herman Cain may be the biggest investigative scoop of the campaign season. But it would be hard to deduce that from the facts as published.

The story lacks the key details needed to judge whether the allegations amount to a fatal character flaw in a candidate suddenly running near the top of the polls. For example, the story quotes unnamed sources as saying the National Restaurant Association paid two settlements in the "five-figure range" to deal with charges of harassment by Cain, who was president and CEO of the trade group from 1996 to 1999.


Were the settlements $99,999 each (to borrow some of Cain’s favorite numbers)? Or a buck more than $9,999?

The former would suggest, but not prove, that something seriously untoward had occurred. The latter would sound like what lawyers term nuisance settlements – the money corporations routinely shell out to make frivolous claims go away.

After providing equivocal denials to Politico, Cain came out swinging today. "In all of my 40 years of business experience,’’ Cain told an audience at The National Press Club in Washington, “ I have never sexually harassed anyone.

“While at the restaurant association,’’ Cain said, “ I was accused of sexual harassment. Falsely accused, I might add."

It is clear from the story that Politico posted Sunday evening that reporters had made extensive efforts to figure out what happened. But much of what appeared came from anonymous sources whose knowledge appeared to be second-hand or unspecific.

Politico described the incidents involved “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature” that took place at conferences or other restaurant association events. One exchange, an unnamed source said, involved an invitation by Cain to an employee to meet him in his hotel suite at an event. There were also “physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.’’

Obviously, this description leaves open a myriad of possibilities, from the boorish to the legally actionable. Certainly, it prompts readers to scratch their heads as they try to remember what in the late 1990s constituted a physical gesture that was not overtly sexual but discomfiting. (I checked. The Macarena came out in the mid-1990s.) Suggestions from a boss to “meet in my suite” are equally ambiguous. Did Cain have a sheaf of strategy papers on the desk or a CD player with a Michael Bolton track cued up?

Therein is the problem with this story. If the facts as published were part of a memo to Politico’s editors, they would amount to a first-rate tip on a story. If Cain turns out to be a serial harasser, it will surely tarnish his image as the 2012 campaign’s most likable fresh face.

Politico says it emailed the campaign for a response to the allegations on Oct. 20, and the answers quoted in Sunday’s story from both Cain and his spokesman are less than complete. But the onus remains on the news organization to nail down its story.

The unanswered questions include:

  • What exactly was said or done by Cain?
  • How much money was paid to each of the women?

If the story reached the board of the restaurant association, as Politico alleges, why do the chairman, vice chairman and immediate past chairman of the board all say they’ve never heard of it.

Sexual harassment is a potent charge. It has brought down CEOs, congressmen and senators, and very nearly pushed Bill Clinton out of the presidency. But in this case, it remains unclear whether this was merely a great tip or an actual bombshell. I respect Politico’s decision to keep the names of the women out of this, although they will surely emerge. Yet, the basic details of this “harassment’’ are essential so readers can judge its significance.

Clarence survived much worse and probably got some slimy backing as a result.  Sexual harassment is real and ugly, but our so called justice system really is not interested as proven in the DSK debacle.  The right wing in the USA likes rape stories and opportunities, sexual, political or economic.

Brian Morford

Oct. 31, 2011, 4:15 p.m.

It did not almost push Bill Clinton from the Presidency. Lying under oath did.  What isn’t said is just as important as what is said.  The media wants doubt in people’s minds to run away with the presented material to prosecute Cain.  Not facts.  That’s not fun and juciy is it?  Since when does this allegation mean squat anyway?  What about the illegal alien that was propped up against Meg Whitman by the Democarts and Gloria Alred in California.  Not once did the media dig into that story to unclover anything more than a face value of Whitman employing a illegal alien.

Reconstruct that chain of events and see who was at the botrtom of the pile. Where she is now, and who paid for her legal bills to come forward to discredit Whitman.  Why she produced false documents and SS number and was never prosecuted.  I’ll bet she is on some Dem support payroll.

While Mr. Engelberg raises important points, I think there was enough there from Politico to write the story. We all know the news business is competitive and apparently these Cain sex harassment rumors have been swirling around for a while. So Politico jumped on it and we’ll have to trust their reporters for feeling out that their anonymous sources were credible enough to move forward with the story. Also these types of stories are iterative so while getting detailed information may be difficult to come by initially, putting out what is now a credible story (because Mr. Cain admitted to being accused of sex harassment) will put more pressure and more focus on getting those details out. People lie and unfortunately only when they’re pressured will they come out with the truth (hopefully).

If he was accused of sexual harrassment while at the Nat’l. Restaurant Assoc., his own words, why is there skepticism towards Politico’s story? Money paid out to two different women to keep them quiet, as the story alleges, probably done to avoid a verdict in court that might ruin a career, or marriage, sounds plausible to me. The burden of proof is now more on him, if he thinks he’s presidential.

It is important to keep in mind the difference from breaking the law and breaking standards of a given corporation.  To avoid even the hint of harassment, corporations often set standards much more stringent than what is established by law.  They also tend to presume guilt rather than innocence, and it is rare that the accused has the opportunity to confront or even rebut the claims.  The corporation, usually through HR or security determines how the case is handled, and whether termination is in order for the offending party.  The standard in the corporate world is often set by the beholder: if the aggrieved feels harassed, and some act did take place that could be construed as harassment, then harassment occurred.  I have read where Cain “recused” himself from the investigation.  Of course he did, that is also normal course of business in corporate investigations - even the manager of the accused is not involved. 

That is not to excuse Cain.  As an HR VP who worked for me often advised, once a harasser, always a harasser.  Unfortunately, she was right much more than not.

What’s the Party line on JournoList about this?

“very nearly pushed Bill Clinton out of the presidency”

As already noted (by a *commenter*, not the sloppy author) it was *a perjury charge* - not so-called sexual harassment - that nearly got Clinton impeached.

The situation arose because Clinton was involved in an illicit sexual *affair* with an intern *in the Oval Office* and then *perjured* himself in order to spare himself shame and political damage.

I don’t recall “sexual harassment” ever being alleged (the Leftish media was too busy putting on its knee-pads in order to save that Democratic Presidency…) or charged.

Are there facts to the contrary?

Would Politico run a story this potently damaging with unnamed sources if it were about Obama? methinks not.

So if I recall that time period (ie, before Monica and Paula), “Sexual harassment” was everywhere, and any off-colored comment or joke in the workplace was seen as such. 

My daughters, who were 3rd and 4th graders about that time, were given training in sexual harassment, and it wasn’t uncommon for boys their age to be “charged” with such.  Heck at that age they’re not exactly sure how sex works, but they were sure told about “sexual harassment” circa 1996!

Since the legal (jury) environment was so over-charged, it wasn’t uncommon for a nuisance settlement to be offered.  Such a thing happened in an office where I worked, when a female was fired only to “remember” how traumatized she was.

Thankfully, we now live in a world where sexual harassment is pretty much confined to the “casting couch” bosses of the world, and boorish behavior is handled internally.

Why should we trust Politico’s reporters to judge the validity (or lack thereof) of these thus-far-unsubstantiated accusations for us?

Report the FACTS, and we readers will decide what to believe, thank you very much.

If you have no FACTS to report better than second- or third-hand rumors of accusations so picayune that the accusers chose petty-cash payouts over a pursuit of justice, then keep the story in the pot until you have some FACTS you can report.

Anything else is just rumor-whoring in the name of profit and political ideology.

I can speak from personal experience on so-clled sexual harassment.  I mention to the receptionist at my workplace that I liked the dress she was wearing.  I was in a very good mood and felt like paying complements.  Later that day, I met our HH mgr. while walking the hallway.  I paid her the very same complement.  Next thing you know I was invited into the HH mgrs office.  where she told me our receptionist had already came to her to complain that I had sexually harrassed her..  I was told not to worry about the complaint because the police were on their way to arrest our receptionist for taking company equipment.  The HH mgr. strongly warned me never to complement a women in the office again.  It’s a wild, wild, world, isn’t it?

Walter D.Shutter, Jr.

Oct. 31, 2011, 5:58 p.m.

The House of Representives Bill of Impeachement against President Clinton did not include a sexual harassment charge.  However, ongoing at the same time was a federal court sexual harassment civil suit against President Clinton brought by Paula Jones who alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas.  The federal judge in this trial chided Clinton for untruthful statments he had made in the course of the case although she did not say he had committed perjury.  The case was eventually dismissed and Clinton, or someone acting on his behalf, gave Jones $850,000.  Whether the above payment to the plaintiff, Jones, had something to do with the case being dismissed I don’t know.  In any case, Susan Weber, the federal judge in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case eventually forwarded certain of the case materials to the Arkansas Supreme Court which, in turn, informed President Clinton that, based upon the evidence they had received from the federal judge, the Ark. Supreme Court would be holding a hearing to determine if his license to practice law in Arkansas should be revolked.  Rather than respond to the inquiry, Clinton voluntarily gave up his Arkansaw Law License.

In short, Clinton was not convicted of perjury, nor any other crime.  Neither was he disbarred.

Not for nothing was he known as “Slick Willie”.

I seem to remember that their were credible accusations of philandering against a presidential candidate in the period leading up to the last Iowa contest. The MSM refused to mention or investigate the allegations because they were made by a news organization who practically invented the smoke ‘em out “news” story that has become regular MSM weapon against conservative candidates. They also didn’t run or investigate the story because the accused was one of theirs.
Had they run the story or at least investigated it. Hillary might have won Iowa and the presidency.
The MSM also did it’s best to dig up dirt on that stiff John McCain while still protecting Mr. Edwards.
It’s difficult to take most of the media seriously since they have decided to become a fifth column and renounce their fourth estate status. We are served best by a hard hitting media. But I wish they would investigate both D’s and R’s with equal vigor.

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Oct. 31, 2011, 6:28 p.m.

Dear Pro Publica:

Your rebuttal smacks of hardball, when a man plays sexually around the edges, while he is married, this IS a legitimate question to ask.

Further, because it is a legitimate question, Cain is obliged to answer the inquiry, if only to clear his name?

You are not obliged to believe Cain’s answer, nor disbelieve it either….

Politico was wrong to publish the story against Mr. Cain, because they got info on phone from an annoymous person with No information whatsoever what “sexual harrassment or inappropriate behavior was nor any dates, places etc.  It has purposely caused a candidate running for President great harm and embarrasment and really angered me. So, conclusion is that it came either from another
Candidate or other politician.  Whoever it came from was trying to do exactly what Politico did by publishing it.  Mr. Cain is Not a politician, nor has a quick book of “answers” as most experienced politicians have.  He needed a short bit of time to remember and decide how he should answer or if he should even bother to answer.  Either way
Mr. Cain is well liked and respected and I hope the people that admire him continue to do so. President Obama hugs and touches lots of women while campaigning and I have read nothing about this being wrong or suggestive..Some people are much more warm and affectionate or caring than others and that is the way Americans use to be before people discovered they could make money from a situation that was inconsequential.  Of course, I am not speaking of rape or horrid attacks or real assaults on anyone.

As several commenters have pointed out, Clinton was impeached for committing perjury in his deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit.  He was asked questions about his conduct in the work place with people other than the plaintiff (i.e. Paula Jones) pursuant to an exception to FRE 404 (found in FRE 415) that was created by the Violence Against Women Act that Clinton himself signed into law.  The Judicial Council stridently opposed the exception to that long standing rule of evidence that assured fairness by excluding any evidence of most prior, bad acts.  In that case, Clinton’s behaviors with other women were definitely within the scope of FRE 414, which meant that his conduct with Monica Lewinsky was not only within the scope of discovery, it was admissible into evidence at trial.

Secondly, even in 1999, the standards in sexual harassment cases had evolved far beyond where they were when Anita Hill made her unsupported allegations against another black conservative.  There are two types of sexual harassment claims: quid pro quo (you have to date the boss or have sex with him to keep your job, get a raise, etc.); hostile work environment (the conduct has to be continuous and pervasive or, if it is only one or a few incidents, it has to be really aggregious, like Clinton dropping his pants and exposing his pepe to Jones). 

In regard to the current case with Herman Cain, we all know that liberals don’t care about sexual harassment.  First, women “never lie about” that subject - Anita Hill; then they do lie - “drag a $100 bill through a trailer park” Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaderick.  Lberals please tell us, do women still lie about these kinds of charges or are we back to where they never lie about them?  What about, anonymous women who second hand sources have told the Washington Post about?

If Herman Cain asked someone who didn’t even work for him (she was allegedly an employee of the trade association, not Godfather’s Burger King or Pillsbury) to come up to his room, it was inappropriate but that would qualify for a summary judgment for the defense because it was neither pervasive or continuous or aggregious (see Clinton exposing himself to a clericla worker fo the state of Arkansas).

I couldn’t care less if Cain asked a woman to come up to his room.  This is just politics and liberals have told us that cheating on your wife is not grounds for disqualification to be president.  Our problems are too great for me to care about unsubstantiated allegations that, even if true, are nowhere near as bad as what Clinton did.

In my comment above I wrote “In that case, Clinton’s behaviors with other women were definitely within the scope of FRE 414…”

I meant to say “In that case, Clinton’s behaviors with other women were definitely within the scope of FRE 415…”

Gary Brownfield

Oct. 31, 2011, 6:48 p.m.

Did Politico chase down the facts on the lies Herman Cain told when questioned by Ron Paul about the Federal Reserve. On his radio show he calls supporters of Paul “Paulites” which is a derogatory remark as though his supporters are blindly following. He says the Federal Reserve has plenty of internal auditing and doesn’t need any external. He has the audacity to think we are all stupid and ignorant when it comes to economics. So; the sex scandal can take a back seat to this broad spectrum of dishonesty.

As far as Propublica saying he adds a nice fresh face to the political scene, well that is in the eye of the beholder.

I am a lawyer and and there are three things we should all consider.  First, it is not uncommon for false charges to be brought either to extort money or just out of plain old spite.  Second, I am sure everybody is well aware of or has had to work with one or more hypersensitive females in the workplace.  It’s no fun having to work around people who scrutinize and are offended by every word we say, but we all have to deal with this.  Third, I know more than my fair share of characters.  it could just be that he has an off-color sense of humor and a few people took things the wrong way (see item Two). 

That said, I am an Ozzie and Harriet kind of guy, and I like the idea of having a boy scout as president, so it would be very disappointing to me that a man who presents himself like Herman Cain does to be exposed as a fraud.  However, given where we are at this point in time with the kind of people who run for office, it also wouldn’t surprise me at all if these charges had merit.

At the end of the day, two charges in a 40 year career do not really concern me.  False charges can (and I’ve seen it before) happen to anyone.

Maurice R. Clark

Oct. 31, 2011, 7:15 p.m.

Mr. Englebergs points are well taken, but if I may suggest: an attentive editor might be inclined to take the last sentence in the first paragraph to task if the points that Mr. Engelberg strives to bring out are that the so-called “facts” are open to interpretation. That sentence undermines the authors premise. His use of the word “facts” tacitly acknowledges the very thing that he disputes-

“But it would be hard to deduce that from the (facts) <sub ‘story’> as published.”

There, I feel better now, and don’t need to kick my old dog tonight.

Maury Clark

Sounds like a smear job to me. Who is to gain the most from this? Romney? Cain’s supporters would have little interest in supporting Romney, should Cain falter. Perry? He certainly has a lot more to gain. Not that I’d put anything past Romney, just that he’s hallucinating if he thinks the Tea Party types would consider him an alternative.

The Democrats have a lot to gain by the exit of Cain.  He’d make a great campaign speaker for the nominee.but not if public opinion turns against him.  Also, I cannot imagine a better vice presidential candidate than Cain.  He’s so able.

I think Engelberg is right, but the story has already done its damage, which may have been the reason for publishing it. What’s Cain going to say: I am not a witch. I don’t think people are going to believe his denials. These kinds of charges hang in the air like a dark cloud.

William Smith

Oct. 31, 2011, 9:04 p.m.

The world is full of unnamed sources! Come back when he can face his accuser and then we will decide his fate. These reporters will embellish any water cooler gossip to get the story of the year. News today only gives you half of the story mainly their half which turns out to be their opinion.

Conservatives make a good point about how it took the longest time to address the John Edwards rumors, which they didn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole.  Funny how they jump right on any rumor when a conservative is involved.

William Smith

Oct. 31, 2011, 9:19 p.m.

Seems to me that John Edwards was confronted with named sources and a video and a trusting wife.

Vera Baker was unavailable for comment.

So we have ruled out that maybe these were racist white women who didn’t want to work for a black man? We have done that, right? I mean, no false charges have EVER been brought against a black man by racist white people… right?


There are more frays on the edges of this story than one can even count. NO names. No court records. No corraboration from those who were there - and have a lot to lose by lying about it now. The people at the Restaurant Association could really find themselves in a pickel if they are NOW lying about not knowing anything.

But no matter… we once again have racist democrats (like the ones who kept Cain from drinking at the water fountains, and confined to the back of the bus, and not going to colleges that were integrated when he was young) just doing what racist Democrats do.

Lie. Hate. Demonize. And fear monger.

Great job, Politico. Now go wash those white robes and get them pearly white for the next hatchet job.

I’m a Cain supporter who now is busy looking for someone else to support. The New York Times probably had him pegged correctly all along when they insinuated he was an"Uncle Tom” and worse.  One has to be ready to move at a moments notice in this game.

If the adage that T Lanski offered above is true, that “once a sexual harasser, always a sexual harasser,” it would seem that the preponderance of evidence weighs heavily in Mr Cain’s favor—where is the long line of victims?

As for Herb Ruhs and his suggestion that, “The right wing in the USA likes rape stories and opportunities, sexual, political or economic”—what is wrong with you? You should get out more.

Lastly: David Lubin—are we supposed to believe that someone who could once have supported Cain would now stoop to calling him an “Uncle Tom”? Give your audience a little more respect, and they might think you have something worthwhile to say. EVen better, you might not disappoint them.

@clazy - I think David was being sarcastic.

I guess I was just being “fast and furious”.

Everybody borns naked! As long as human’s super animal instincts are not really inhuman like those of human killers or dangerous sex criminals—-it’s not a big deal.
Only thing may help the US-now and the ensuing new world’s healthy politics is: to make sure through new laws-passed right now in the US and then, in the New UN, so that no business leader {such as small and big weapon factory, Stock market, Oil-field owner etc. who have something to gain from economic and political unrest; (e.g. just think about this fact: how does billions of $$$$$$$$ US money went into personal pockets of Donald Trump or Bill gates Warren Buffet or countless too tall CEOs as bonus packages or Emirs of Middle East or shorter Chinese, Indian, Saudi businessmen etc.?
How great it would be to see now an simple international law is being passed, against any too rich Guy to inflict pains and miseries to hard working Middle Class Guys.
That new law shall apply to everyone, regardless it be a businessman or a king anywhere in the world, US$ One million only aunnually can be kept from net income for each member individually of a wealthy family earning more than US$ 1 million or US$ 1 billion, rest will be taken by an honest UN power for the benefit of equal wealth distribution among global public and the accounting will be so trransparently visible in the yet to be built: UN’s Website in a “No National or International secret” -style; that any member of the global public will have unrestricted access for own awareness of what’s going on with the Earth’s resoutces) can participate in the Now-homeland and next year’s International politics of the electronically manageable smaller: One world with endless posibilities of developements.

A properly active human mind is smarter than the dumb space with big stars we can see in the night sky, because star can’t see or understand a human mind.
It is the smallness of human minds that unhealthily gets worried about things when 50 billion world population will have no food on earth, world is becoming too hot or cold etc..
We get solar energy for free from an unknown source of the Cosmic Creator and it is kept or rediated only as much as is necessary; and nothing else comes or goes out of this planet: the Earth and there will never ever be any shortage of forever recycling minerals, atomic particles, energies: fossil or other fuel types or bio fats for human consumption etc..
However, when it comes to the politics and money issue of the everyday’s modern humanitarian happy life, we -the wise ones selflessly just need to start the redistribution and balancing process as soon as possible.

The money oriented knowledge, currently recognized by the ‘Century old Certifications of Scientists or Economists etc.’ are too weak to solve the problems of present disorders or to discover enough “wisdom of religionless Omni-powerful’s play” where the main key of evovled Mankind’s general hapiness and comfort is still hidden.

From the moments of Birth to Death the only thing humans actually seek is Happiness. Wealth changes hands but do not guarantee or come or go anywhere when our humanly existence begins to take (or ends to otherwise to become atoms again) forms from atoms of chemicles and maintains an unchangeable “rule of 50%” for balancing well the opposing forces for healthy existance of body functions of humans or any of the living creations.

And I guess I was being slow and sleepy. I should not read this stuff so late at night. Thanks for the clarification.

@clazy 8   No problem!  By the way, Democrats use the disgruntled employee strategy against every Republican business executive who runs for office here in California It’s very effective.  Another strategy is to expose the Republican who hired an illegal alien.  Both this strategies were used flawlessly by Democrat Jerry Brown in the recent elections here in California.

Anyone at anytime can claim sexual harrasment. Pro Obama/publica decides to jump on the band wagon offering no proof either way. Which is a pro Obama move. And another reason why Propublica is exposing it’s self as a very bias organization. Just another democrat propaganda machine. Oh well, better keep looking for a “real"news source.

How conveniently we forget that it was not Monica who complained of sexual harassment.

Quote:  “Cain admits one complaint against him was settled during his time at the National Restaurant Association, contradicting earlier position he had no knowledge of any settlements.”

Politico’s just doing it’s work for the DNC

To see this story as anything but a poorly constructed hit piece is to engage ins some very effective self delusion.  When have you EVER seen Politico “delve” into anything similar to this regarding a Democrat?  The MSM was dragged, kicking and screaming into Weinergate…..why the difference? know.

A couple of good examples of why “journalism” is a dying skill immediately before this comment:  If you practice journalism - if you practice telling the truth and don’t conceal the truth based upon the politics involved - then you must be an organ of the Democrats.

And since it is Republican types who pay for an awful lot of the advertising that defines the difference between “surviving” and “going under”...

Hey, Clazy, it has been ONE DAY since this issue was made public.  I guarantee you, if Herman Cain was truly guilty of harassment, IF, then more victims are out there, just wait.

Kathleen Richardson

Nov. 1, 2011, 8:53 a.m.

Having come up in a world when women were secretaries, teachers or nurses, I occupied my working years being more concerned about my acceptance as a credible technical writer in a traditionally male world. If a guy put his arm around me and called me “honey,” I just removed his arm and told him to knock it off. So what’s the big deal? Take care of yourself - keep Big Brother out of it, unless, of course, you’re an opportunist.

To most of the comment writers: Thanks for the reminder that Slick Willie lied to the American public. And also thanks for refreshingly thought-out comments.

Brian’s right.  The sex scandal is what kept Clinton in office, by distracting from the serious and documented perjury and conspiracy to perjure, which is why Lewinsky was introduced in the first place, as holder of the memo where she was instructed what to say.

As for Cain, since Clinton was brought up, it’s worth point out that his “I have never sexually harassed anyone” was punctuated pretty much as Clinton’s “I have never had sexual relations with that woman.”  I don’t care that much about the man’s personal life if he keeps it in his pants on the people’s payroll, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if voice and behavior analysis suggests…something other than the truth.

Obama also has something of a tarnished record when dealing with women (who he hires, how much he pays them, and terminology used), and I seem to remember the “sweetie” comment (not to mention the ill-advised “lipstick on a pig” quip and pathetic recovery) nearly lost him the Primary.  Is there some reason that respect for half the people in this country doesn’t seem to be a trait that’s sought in candidates?

‘Possible sexual harassment’, eh?

What kind or should I ask you liberal what ‘class’ of sexual harassment are the less than professional Politico pseudo reporters talking about?

A ‘slick willie’ type of harassment? (

A Jesse Jackson type of harassment? (

Or was it a John Edwards type of harassment? (

Maybe Cain really took a running jump for the deep end and participated in the infamous ‘Dodd-Kennedy waitress sandwich’ ( so as to make real memories…

Just another Left wing hatchet job by Politico (a fully invested arm for the DNC). Of course Clinton lied to the public, thats what politicians do (especially Dems)  Oh well at least they didn’t find wads of cash in Cains freezer (yet)

Obviously, beyond and beneath the facts of the Herman Cain allegations (as well as the identities and current employment or affiliations of his claimed accusers), is where Politico got the story?

All of us who’ve worked as reporters know that the best stories often come from disgruntled and (perhaps) disrespected or despirited folks with an axe to grind or perceived wrong to right. It’s our stock in trade.

Our responsibilities are to work the story while our editors challenge us to get the facts and context… at least some of the great editors it was my privilege to learn from, who more than once kept us out of trouble.

Protecting sources is of course paramount, but not if this Cain story turns out to be specious, or a stretch, at which point “motive” and a manipulation of credulous politically motivated reporting IS the story!

I believe the story here isn’t the alleged sexual harassment charge, but how such charges are treated based on the political party the charged belongs to. This would never have seen the light of day on POLITICO had it been Obama or another Democrat. To deny that is to deny the sun rises in the east and sets in the west every day. We all know and understand (though many won’t admit) how the mainstream media defends and deflects for Obama, even to this day, the lame Pew study notwithstanding. If, as some say this story is the product of a highly competitive news market, then why the relative silence when it pertains to REAL scandals involving the current sitting president (cough*Gunwalker*cough) or the horrific acts taking place at virtually every OWS protest?

The answer is obvious. The only question is, who will admit it publically?

The blatant partisanship of the Politico story is repugnant to anyone who strives for accuracy and integrity in reporting. Politico’s hunger to “find something that sticks” is palpable throughout the article. Who can possibly countenance this hit piece and say he or she “strives for journalistic integrity”?

The terrible partisanship of the article is apparent when we realize that no one would have dared to print a similar story with the same degree of reliability and corroboration about a national Democratoc figure, much less Obama. With Obama’s coming the old rules about journalistic objectivity and neutrality have changed. It’s pretty clear the bulk of the news media has proudly and openly thrown its support to the President.

But isn’t there a shred of intellectual honesty left in the news business today? Is Pro Pub the only voice to even raise a question about the methods and reporting of Politico? What a shame.

And then we moan about how the news business is dying, and try to persuade ourselves and everyone else that “free news” is the reason. Hardly. It’s becasue the public simply doesn’t trust us anymore. Because of shameful reporting like the Politico piece on Herman Cain.

And we have no one to blame but ourselves.

From SourceWatch:  “Politico’s “publisher, Robert L. Allbritton, 37, scion of the banking and media family that once owned the defunct Washington Star, said in an interview that he would finance The Politico for ‘the foreseeable future’ and has committed to paying for expensive campaign travel. He has hired a staff of about 50 people, almost half of them journalists,” Kara Rowland reported January 22, 2007, in The Washington Times.

“Newspapers have to be all things to all people,’ Mr. Allbritton said. ‘On the Internet, there is no one site that delivers everything. It’s broken down into mini-mini-subdivisions of interests and they attract people who are passionately interested in one subject.’ ...

Allbritton “is best known for following his father, Joe L. Allbritton, as chief executive of the Riggs Bank, which was sold in 2004 after a Senate investigation found that Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, had kept millions of dollars in secret accounts at Riggs. Robert Allbritton has been chairman and chief executive of Allbritton Communications, which owns television stations in Washington and a half dozen other markets, since 2001,” Rowland wrote.

“Politico will generate its revenue through an advertising-supported business model, with many of the ads coming from trade associations, lobbyists, government contractors and other companies looking to attract the attention of Congress, said Albritton President Frederick Ryan Jr. in September [2006] when the venture was initially announced,” Katie Wilmeth of The Examiner reported on January 23, 2007.”

Politico’s politics are hardly kneejerk liberal, nor it is openly conservative, but it might ultimately turn out to be a conservative enterprise biding its time to accumulate whatever credibility it can.  It appears to be about being an inside the Beltway media power broker and making money for the parent company using its influence in Washington.

My best guess is the source for Herman Cain’s sexual harassment settlements came from the Romney campaign because they have the most to gain, and let’s face it, Cain was never a serious candidate to win a national election.  This one reminded me of the Gore campaign using Willie Horton against Dukakis.

Regarding all of the discussion about Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the thing that continues to amaze me is the most serious charge - abuse of power (e.g., cruise missile strikes and airstrikes timed to pre-empt the next media expose) - was barely discussed in the House impeachment trial and in the Senate.  And the Starr report was all about his extra-marital activities.  Lucky Willie might be a better nickname than Slick Willie.

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