Commentary Magazine


Cain Charges Aren’t Sign of “Media Bias”

Conservatives are used to getting unfairly maligned by the media, so it’s understandable that some would want to jump to Herman Cain’s defense over the sexual harassment allegations. But some of the media bias defenses are starting to become incoherent.

Initially, the complaint was that Politico’s story was too thinly sourced to publish. That may have been the case. But now that Cain has pretty much confirmed everything that Politico wrote, the bias argument is irrelevant.

Cain admits that he was accused of sexual harassment and that there was a financial settlement. He denies that the allegations are true. But he’s noticeably hazy–and inconsistent–about the details.

The fact that many in the media aren’t simply taking Cain at his word that the charges were “baseless” isn’t an unfair attack on him. It’s not a sign of racism, or anti-conservative bias. It’s a sign that reporters are doing their job–the job they should be doing, but sometimes don’t, when the accused party is a liberal Democrat.

The thing is, Cain is acting like he has something to hide. That doesn’t mean he actually does, but it should at least warrant some more scrutiny. Cain spent yesterday making contradictory statements about the facts of the case, and ducking reporters whenever possible:

9 a.m. – ABC’s Jon Karl questions Herman Cain about the sexual harassment allegations at an American Enterprise Institute discussion, only to have his mic cut off.

“I’ll take all of the arrows later [at the National Press Club lunch],” Cain promised, citing AEI’s “ground rules” as the reason he couldn’t speak freely about anything other than tax policy.

11:20 a.m. – Cain appears on Fox News, and tells anchor Jenna Lee that he has never sexually harassed anybody, but was falsely accused of sexual harassment during his time at the National Restaurant Association. He maintains that he had no recollection of a settlement.

“If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much,” Cain said. “If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association.”

12:30 p.m. – At the National Press Club lunch, Cain managed to dodge a lot of relevant questions because of the format of the event. Only the moderator could ask questions, and all inquiries had to be submitted earlier in the day. When asked about the charges, Cain repeated that he was “unaware of any sort of settlement.”

“[W]hen the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and my human resource officer to deal with the situation,” said Cain. “And it was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis.”

At the end of the event, NPC staff allegedly barred reporters from confronting Cain with more questions, according to the Washington City Paper. 

Afternoon – After the NPC lunch, Cain tells the Associated Press that he has no memory of specific allegations. “That was 12 years ago ago. So no, I don’t remember,” he said.

6:00 p.m. – A PBS NewsHour interview with Cain airs, where he seems to change his story. He admits that he remembers there being a settlement, and gives some of the details of one of the allegations. “The only one that I could recall after a day of trying to remember specifics, was once I referenced this lady’s height and I was standing near her, and I did this saying, you’re the same height of my wife, because my wife is five feet tall and she comes up to my chin,” said Cain.

10 p.m. – Cain repeats most of what he said on NewsHour to Greta Van Susteren, saying that the settlement was “maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”

He flip-flopped on at least two major facts within 12 hours–his knowledge of the settlements and his knowledge of the allegation details. Even if nothing else trickles out about the case, that’s more than enough to raise red flags.