Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire Breathing Media

Herman Cain is bedeviled by yet another media cycle of salacious allegations.  Ginger White is the latest accuser to step forward, alleging a 13-year affair with the Republican presidential candidate.  What caught Noman's eye in the original story was the following:
Ms. White said she came forward after seeing how Mr. Cain, a businessman who lives in Atlanta, treated the women who had accused him of harassment. 
“It bothered me that they were being demonized,” Ms. White said. “I felt bad for them.”

Perhaps Cain should have announced that he felt their pain, while disclaiming that he played any role in causing it.

Personally, Noman feels badly for Cain.  If the accusations are true, the man fell prey to his libido and the charms of faux-glam women like Sharon Bialek.  He is to be pitied as a figure in Greek tragedy, or anyone with poor character judgment.  If the accusations are false, he has no way of defending himself.  His fate depends on what the public believes, and that is the media's bailiwick.  Unfortunately for Cain, it supports the other Party, and considers his presence on the debate stage a nuisance.

Noman takes White's point, and doesn't condone demonization.  But, one man's demonization is another man's fact reporting.  The women who have thus far surfaced to impugn Cain's character and torpedo his political campaign have uniformly checkered histories, thin stories and good reasons to expect star treatment from the media.  (Noman hopes, but doubts, that some enterprising reporter will be scrutinizing their debt forgiveness, money flows, lifestyle changes and upticks in fortune.)  Ironically, the accusers expect the public to accept their stories on the basis of character and credibility.

In typically colorful prose, Ann Coulter sums up White's problem:
White has the whole combo-platter of questionable accuser attributes: She's another financially troubled, twice-divorced, unemployed single mother, who has claimed sexual harassment in the past, declared bankruptcy once, was accused of stalking and had a libel judgment entered against her just this year. So far in 2011, she's had nine liens put on her property.

But we're supposed to ignore all of that because she's the third woman of questionable character to make an implausible allegation. Liberals say there's a pattern, but the only pattern is of their making far-fetched accusations of a sexual nature against Cain.

These women are like triple-A ball players with the stats being: number of bankruptcies, smallest bank account, number of liens, most false claims, number of children out of wedlock, degrees of separation from David Axelrod, total trips to human resources and so on.

That wouldn't be dispositive -- except for the fact that their only evidence is their word.
White's other evidence consists of a signed book, money given to her by Cain, and lots of phone messages, which pales in comparison to Gennifer Flowers'--the obvious comparison's--evidence:
Gennifer Flowers produced taped telephone calls with Clinton totaling thousands of words between them, with him counseling her on how to deny their affair: "If they ever hit you with it, just say no, and go on. There's nothing they can do ... But when they -- if somebody contacts you, I need to know ... All you got to do is deny it."

As you may recall, these revelations failed to raise media eyebrows, even though Flowers was fired from her Arkansas state job for taking time off to tape the accusatory interviews.  Ana Quindlen expressed the dominant sentiment back then:
Let`s pretend for a moment that we`re discussing real life here instead of politics. Sadly enough, these things happen. They may simply happen more frequently to politicians. Just as we`ve come to accept that most politicians of a certain age likely smoked pot at some time in their past, so we`ve come to accept that, given the combination of megalomania and charisma needed to run for office, some candidates may at one time have found ego gratification with actress/models or television reporter/nightclub singers, the kind of women who, when they go public, tend to have flattering 8-by-10 glossies readily available. 
This matters to different people in different degrees, from those who think it is unforgivable to those who think it`s inevitable. Call it character. Call it a way of seeing women. Call it the sleaze factor. You put together ``forsaking all others,`` ``I will never lie to you`` and ``here`s my room key,`` and you`ve got a credibility gap, in real life and in politics too.
In the last 30 years, we have moved from wondering whether it happens to wondering whether it matters. Now we care about how it is handled, about getting out of a jam with dignity. 
If this were real life, Dear Abby would tell you that if you loved Bill Clinton enough, you should accept his story and put all this out of your mind. And that`s probably good political advice too. I`m not sure anyone loves Clinton that much yet. The Democrats I talk to have a clear idea of who they want for president: ABB. Anyone But Bush. If enough people feel that Bill Clinton is necessary to his party, his alleged indiscretions will become secondary to his absolute indispensability.
Since this year's ABB--"Anybody But Barack"--is the middle class's hope and plea, not the media's, the Quindlen standard won't apply to Cain, or his accusers.  The tables have been reversed, the accusers have been made to look sympathetic rather than predatory, and Cain is being hounded out of the race rather than kept in it.

As Coulter concludes:
But this is how liberals dirty you up when they've got nothing: They launch a series of false accusations, knowing that Americans with busy lives won't follow each story to the end and notice that they were all blind alleys. 
The liberal media is an old story, but it's still a big story when it comes to creating the impression of scandal out of thin air. 
Most people say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." I say, "Where there's smoke around a conservative, there are journalists furiously rubbing two sticks together."
Noman's only disagreement is with the notion of journalists rubbing sticks together to create smoke.  Dragons have readier means at their disposal.  And, the whiff of sulfur enveloping the media's political machinations indicates another source of power altogether.

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