It’s been a week since Politico, a sub-affiliate of The Washington Post, released what turned into a media firestorm article titled “Exclusive: Herman Cain accused of by two women of inappropriate behavior”. The article cited that “multiple sources confirmed” two women left their jobs because of the “inappropriate behavior by Cain.” One week later, the 4-page online article shows to have been Tweeted over 3,500 times with over 22K Facebook likes and over 3,400 comments.
Since the initial release of Politico’s article the public has been inundated with over 5,000 online articles related to this specific issue – in one week’s time. That does not include all the remarks, highlights, and in-depth discussions made on all the major news networks.
What about this matters the most? To some it is about Cain coming forward with the “facts” about what happened some 12-13 years ago, while to others it is about journalism run amok in lieu of truth, and yet to others it is all about pointing a finger elsewhere for the conspiracy behind it all.
With so many various versions of the initial accusation posted by Politico, and the fact that not everyone can possibly read each and every article written on the subject, it is no wonder that the people are left with their heads spinning in wonder of who to believe, what to believe, and how this fiasco could have started in the first place.
How it all started is a simple matter. Let’s go through this in a timeline that actually pits the facts against the falsehoods.
In the beginning of this fray is the Journalistic Code of Ethics. The preamble, as do the preambles written in most documents, sums it up:
- “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility…” [emphasis added]
Next up Politico releases an article that is chock full of anonymous allegations confirmed by multiple unnamed sources aimed directly at the named, 50 times, Cain as the alleged sexual harasser.
Within minutes of its release the article went viral, being used as the headline for all major news networks and spread across the internet in rapid concession rivaling that of fully automatic machine gun fire. Leaving little doubt in the public minds that these ‘allegations’ just might be false or blown out of proportion. At this point on the timeline, Cain was conceived as ‘guilty as charged, never mind the facts’.
Cain and his campaign started making statements, albeit J.D. Gordon did Cain no favors with his call-in to Geraldo, Cain’s initial statement did state that no “settlements” were made and that he “did not” sexually harass anyone and that the “allegations were found to be baseless.”
Then came the call for Cain to release these women from confidentiality agreements ‘they’ signed with the N.R.A. to which Cain stated he had no control over because he did not sign any agreements. Note at this time Cain also made it clear that when the term “settlements” was used, he equated that with “legal settlements” not internal company agreements.
Of course that sent the media into a tizzy citing that Cain had something to hide. Let’s remember that, even at this point, the “anonymous sources” are still remaining “anonymous”. So a call to the N.R.A. by both the media and one of the women’s attorney was made to release the ‘anonymous’ woman from her confidentiality so ‘she’ could speak freely without legal repercussions.
It is at this point that the greatest majority of the media turned a blind eye to that portion of their Ethics Code that states they should “strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.” After the ‘anonymous’ woman’s attorney, Joel Bennett, sent the request to the N.R.A. for his client to be released from the confidentiality agreement, also stating he did not have a copy of the agreement, ‘he’ held a press conference speaking on his client’s behalf, again without mentioning her name. Mr. Bennett is quoted as saying, “There’s an expression that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Bennett held to the stance that his client “stands by the complaint she made.” – This leaves the public at an impasse. What complaint?
Is it Cain’s responsibility to come forward with what the allegations were that were levied against him by an unnamed source? Would it not be prudent for the accuser to come forward if the allegations were true enough for Politico to post an article about it?
In the United States we have a legal system that states we are innocent until “proven” guilty. In this specific instance we have the media proving Cain guilty without his even being able to face his accuser, or as some reports say, accusers.
Moving back to the timeline, after Mr. Bennett spoke on behalf of his client, the National Restaurant Association put forth this statement:
- “We have seen the statement Joel Bennett released earlier today on behalf of his client, a former employee of the Association. The Association consented to the release of that statement, at the request of Mr. Bennett’s client.
“Based upon the information currently available, we can confirm that more than a decade ago, in July 1999, Mr. Bennett’s client filed a formal internal complaint, in accordance with the Association’s existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint. The Association and Mr. Bennett’s client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability. Mr. Cain was not a party to that agreement. The agreement contains mutual confidentiality obligations. Notwithstanding the Association’s ongoing policy of maintaining the privacy of all personnel matters, we have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett’s client to comment. As indicated in Mr. Bennett’s statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter and we will respect her decision.
“The Association has robust policies designed to ensure that employees with concerns may bring them forward for prompt investigation and resolution, without risk of retaliation. The Association is fully committed to equal employment opportunity and to an environment that is free from any discrimination or harassment.”
Taken from “Statement from the National Restaurant Association” article posted on The Right Scoop.
“…consented to the release of that statement, at the request of Mr. Bennett’s client”? So why is the media still asking that the N.R.A. release this anonymous woman from her confidentiality agreement? Why are the major networks not being “fair and comprehensive” as stated in the preamble of their code of ethics?
So here we have the media stating that Cain is responsible for calling on the N.R.A. to release the woman from her confidentiality agreement, be in front of this by bringing the “facts” to the public himself, questioning his flipping on the terms “settlement” vs. “agreement”, disbelieving that he was part of the agreement, and going out of their way to say that this issue is going to, if it has not already, derail the Cain Train.
Fact: “Notwithstanding the Association’s ongoing policy of maintaining the privacy of all personnel matters, we have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett’s client to comment. As indicated in Mr. Bennett’s statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter and we will respect her decision.” N.R.A. Statement
Fact: Only one woman has, via her attorney, publicly come forward with allegations against Cain.
Fallacy: Mr. Cain needs to call on the N.R.A. to release anyone from their confidentiality agreement.
Fact: The media fails in its fact-finding process and makes a mockery of the Journalistic Code of Ethics. Politico leaves itself as an unfounded, unreliable, and non-credible source for journalism.
[Update- 9:36am ET Nov. 7, 2011]
Attorney Accusing Cain Has History of Litigating Trivial Employment Cases
[Update – 10:40am ET Nov. 7, 2011]
Politico vs. Herman Cain in Numbers
[Update – 1:30pm ET Nov. 8, 2011]
After the press conference held yesterday by Sharon Bialek and her attorney Gloria Allred, a plethora of articles have been released looking into Bialek’s life, and none have been supportive.
Now, an article that highlights the many women with a plausible conclusion – “Investigating Caingate”