A couple of caveats are in order when reading this breaking story about a woman coming forward in a press conference to accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment. First, it’s Radar that is reporting the news, and their track record for accuracy on political stories is … less than spectacular, although not entirely bad. The second caveat? Her representation:
A new woman alleging sexual harassment by presidential hopeful Herman Cain will break her silence at a news conference with her powerhouse attorney Gloria Allred Monday afternoon in New York City, RadarOnline.comis exclusively reporting. …
The woman, who will be the first to go public on Monday, sought Cain’s help with an employment issue and was allegedly sexually harassed by him. Allred and her client will discuss, in detail, what she alleges occurred with Cain.
For those who can’t recall the last time Allred represented someone with a credible claim, you’ll have to look farther back than her attempt to kneecap Meg Whitman in the California gubernatorial election. Greta van Susteren destroyed Allred in a contentious interview last October, and it wasn’t pretty. I’m guessing that hiring Allred signals that a better lawyer wouldn’t take this client, but we’ll have to see when the national media writes another 100 stories about this case. And of course, if the woman didn’t file any complaint — at least by Radar’s reporting, this is someone other than the two women whose cases Politico reported last week — then the allegations are going to have an instant credibility problem anyway. Or at least they would if they were being made against Bill Clinton rather than Herman Cain. (Business Insider also reports that this is someone else, but bases that on Radar’s report.)
Given Allred’s participation in past political hit jobs, don’t expect this to be any sort of tipping point.
Meanwhile, speaking about credibility, Howard Kurtz grilled Politico’s Jonathan Martin on the decision to publish the Cain piece on yesterday’s Reliable Sources, taking the same approach as ProPublica’s criticism of the article. Click the image to watch:
Howard Kurtz, CNN: “Jonathan Martin, let’s talk about the first story last Sunday, you and three colleagues reported this and what it didn’t contain in the way of details. Here’s the language from the story. Sexually suggestive behavior that made the women angry and uncomfortable, descriptions of physical gestures, not always overtly sexual, innuendo, and in one case, an unwanted sexual advance at a hotel.”
“Why publish the story then when you couldn’t answer the essential question: What precisely is Herman Cain alleged to have done to these women?”
Jonathan Martin, Politico: “Howie, I think any journalist would find the, uh — a report of two women got a fine figure, each, cash payout after alleged sexual harassment against a CEO of a trade group that is now a major contender for president, newsworthy. And that’s the story we had, and that’s what we published.” …
Kurtz: “You had to make a go or no go decision. I think at a lot of news organizations an editor would have said ‘you have done some terrific reporting here, you’ve got some great leads here, but you don’t have it. You can’t, you know, have a quote of what he said to any of these women, you’re obviously not able to name the women, you don’t have the details of the sexually suggestive behavior that made them angry. Go back and get more. You could have waited, there was nothing forcing you to publish this last Sunday.”
Martin: “Well, we had the fact that one of these women was brought upon by Cain in a hotel room and was made to feel very uncomfortable. We reported later this week more upon what actually happened with that episode, Howie. She was upset by that, that hours later she confronted a member of the board to complain about Cain’s treatment of her, an explicit sexual overture in a hotel room. So again –”
Kurtz: “But you can’t tell me what the overture is?”
We still don’t know what the alleged actions were, which makes it impossible to determine whether this is a real story or just a case of nuisance complaint settlements.