Cain gets Secret Service protection from ... the media? Update: No more videotaped interviews with editorial boards, campaign says

So says Herman Cain’s spokesman, as reported by the Washington Post last night, but I’m having trouble believing it.  Does the Secret Service routinely provide protection from political threats rather than physical threats?

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain began receiving protection from the U.S. Secret Service Thursday, his campaign said, making the Georgia businessman the first GOP presidential contender to received stepped-up security on the campaign trail.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said Thursday night that the campaign asked for the protection after The Washington Post posted an article online that morning detailing a series of physical skirmishes involving journalists at Cain rallies. …

Gordon would not say how many Secret Service agents would be positioned with Cain, but the spokesman said the coverage began Thursday night in New York, where Cain taped an interview on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

On the campaign trail, Cain “draws anywhere from a dozen to 50 media at his events,” Gordon said. “When he gets out at a rally or a campaign stop, it has been increasingly common for media to be physically putting themselves and others in danger by trying to follow him with a lot of heavy equipment and cameras in close quarters like we saw yesterday.”

One would think that the Secret Service would only get involved if a candidate had received threats other than persistent reporters.  That might not be surprising, given the heated debate over years-old allegations of sexual harassment that arose a couple of weeks ago against Cain.  It’s not unthinkable that Cain could have received a few threats from a few enraged nutcases, and that those could have precipitated the unusual (but not unprecedented) assignment of Secret Service protection.  It’s hard to imagine that the Department of Homeland Security and Congress would have signed off on this request for any other reason, as they did in this case.

Why would Gordon blame the media crush on Cain at events for the request, if in fact threats had been received?  For one thing, the campaign wouldn’t necessarily want to encourage more threats, and law enforcement might want to investigate any possible threats with as little publicity as possible.  Under those circumstances, though, it would be better to say nothing at all rather than claim that a presidential candidate needed armed protection from the media covering the campaign.

Personally, I think Cain is a terrific person, so I wish him well and hope he is safe in his campaign travels.  If he has gotten threats, they need to be taken seriously.  But if the only threat is that the media is getting a little intense, then he should hire more bodyguards in private rather than request Secret Service protection as a buffer from reporters.  If it’s something else, then the campaign should just keep its mouth shut.

Update: Well, maybe it is to keep the media off his back, considering the new policy at the Cain campaign:

Herman Cain’s campaign will no longer allow videotaping of the Republican presidential candidate’s meetings with newspaper editorial boards.

Campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon says the new edict has nothing to do with the fact that Mr. Cain bumbled for several minutes earlier this weekwhen members of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board asked him, on video, whether he agrees with President Barack Obama’s handling of events in Libya. …

Mr. Gordon announced the new policy in the Airport Diner in Manchester Thursday, after reporters asked why Mr. Cain refused to be videotaped by C-SPAN during a meeting with the New Hampshire Union Leader editorial staff. The decision against tapng ultimately scotched the meeting, which had been scheduled for Thursday morning.

I hate to break this to the Cain campaign, but dealing with the media is part of the job.  And frankly, getting videotape is usually better for the candidate so that people can see the context for the quotes that come out of the interviews.