One of the side-effects of the news media’s routinely displayed lack of fairness and integrity is that its motives can be challenged even when it does its job properly. The media itself is completely at fault for creating this opportunity for spin artists to confuse the public with blame-shifting arguments, but the blame-shifters are shameless and despicable. Thus we have to listen to a conservative talk radio barrage of accusations that Ginger White, the woman who has surfaced with the tale of a 13-year long affair with Herman Cain, was “dug up” by “them” in a coordinated effort to “get” a rising black conservative. This morning, such claims were proliferating all over the AM dial.
Politico opened the door for this, of course, with its unsourced, anonymous, still detail-free account of sexual harassment complaints of an undefined nature filed against Cain and settled over a decade ago. The stories never should have run without names and facts, and the subsequent appearance of other Cain accusers can’t change that. Publishing such a story, in violation of basic journalistic ethics principles, was unfair, and did look like a media hit job, though when the media is involved, Hanlon’s Razor (“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”) applies. As William Jacobson wrote over the weekend,“After hundreds of articles at Politico, what do we know about the specific accusations against Herman Cain which gave rise to Politico’s original reporting: Nothing. After hundreds of articles at Politico, what do we know about the specific evidence against Herman Cain which gave rise to Politico’s original reporting: Nothing. Truly incredible.”
Which is why we don’t, and can’t, trust the news media. But unless the accusation is that the media hired a mad scientist to manufacture out of frog DNA and old magazine photos a plausible paramour for Herman Cain, or that the Disney team built Ginger White out of old Abe Lincoln audio-animatron parts, whatever journalist or journalists who tracked down White were doing their job. Herman Cain has sold himself to the American people as authentic, someone who doesn’t hide his real opinions, character or flaws. He has also asserted a personal history of integrity to deny the allegations. legitimate or not, of sexual harassment. The media should have been looking for a Cain mistress, because a Cain mistress proves that the man is a charlatan, a liar and a fraud.
We now know that Cain not only knows nothing about foreign affairs, a rather large component of the President’s responsibilities, but can’t be bothered to learn anything about them. We know that his grasp of economic matters extends to endless repetitions of “9-9-9” and little else. We know he thinks that abortion is murder but should be allowed anyway, that Muslims should be discriminated against and that gay Americans don’t deserve the right to marry. Against all of these troubling factors, Cain has effectively promoted his integrity, honesty, openness and trustworthiness. Well, if he has been cheating in his wife for 13 years, he isn’t honest, open and trustworthy, and the public has a right to know it.
The media can’t be blamed for Herman Cain’s duplicity, and anyone who tells you otherwise has revealed their own lack of fairness and honesty. These kinds of situations are simple: if Herman Cain didn’t want the media to uncover a mistress in the middle of his presidential campaign, he had two choices, and they were all his: don’t run for president, or don’t have a 13 year adulterous affair. The news media may well have been out to get Herman Cain, but if he’s been exposed, it’s his fault and nobody else’s. We owe the media thanks for rescuing us from another in a long line of political con-men.
Whether there are any potential leaders who aren’t con-men is a depressing topic for another day.