Networks Predict 'Death Blow' and 'Doom' for Cain, CBS Skips Accuser's Legal Problems
All three morning shows on Tuesday trumpeted the latest woman to make accusations against Herman Cain, hyping this as a possible "death blow" and sign of coming "doom" for the "Sixth Sense" campaign. [MP3 audio here.]
Ginger White insisted that she and Cain had engaged in a 13-year affair. CBS, unlike NBC and ABC, made no mention of the woman's past legal problems, which include claims of stalking.
On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts pounced, "Campaign bombshell...Do [White's] shocking revelations spell doom for his troubled campaign?" On CBS's "Early Show," correspondent John Dickerson proclaimed, "At the worst, it's a death blow to the campaign."
Over on NBC's "Today," Chuck Todd preemptively declared the campaign over, announcing, "Now we're in sort of the 'Sixth Sense' mode. Everybody knows this candidacy is basically dead except the campaign."
(In the 1999 film "The Sixth Sense," one of the characters is dead, but doesn't know it.)
Guest David Gregory agreed, decrying, "Now he's had gaffe after gaffe when it comes to foreign policy. I think he's being taken less seriously, and so there's less conversation about these kinds of personal allegations, though I think their impact will be felt."
While "Early Show" reporters eagerly covered the new accusations in three separate segments, they made no mention of White's questionable past. The New York Daily News on Tuesday explained:
[White] is middle-aged, has two children and was evicted from her Atlanta home earlier this month, according to a background check done by the TV station.
WAGA reporters also found records showing she has been hit with several eviction notices in DeKalb County, Ga., over the past six years.
She filed for bankruptcy 23 years ago, the station reported. In 2001, she also filed a sexual harassment suit, which was later settled, according to the station.
Her former business partner, Kimberly Vay, once sued her and accused her of stalking, the station reported.
Vay, who did not respond to calls for comment Monday, also sought an order of protection against White, charging that she was bombarded with emails and texts 'threatening [a] lawsuit' and defaming her character.
Reporter Nancy Cordes simply told viewers: "She says she's coming forward to tell her story, in part, because she feels bad for the women who accused him of sexual harassment."
"Good Morning America's" Brian Ross mentioned legal problems twice, noting, "Court documents obtained by ABC News shows that Cain's accuser, White, a single mother, has a long history of legal and financial problems, including an eviction notice earlier this month."
Lisa Myers on "Today" also observed that White "has had financial problems, including a bankruptcy filing and eviction notices."
All three evening newscasts on Monday covered the accusations with full reports. However, at that point, details of White's legal problems hadn't yet surfaced.
A transcript of the November 29 Today segment, which aired at 7:06 am EST, follows:
MATT LAUER: David, let me start with you. The first reaction is this is almost anti-climactic after the first drip drip drip over the last month or so. I think people are almost numb. What impact do you think this story has on this race?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cain Under Fire; How Will New Claims Impact The GOP Race?]
DAVID GREGORY: I think some of the impact from the allegations has already started to materialize in Cain's poll numbers. He's fallen some, particularly in early states and in the national rankings. Whether it's among women or social conservatives in an early state like Iowa, and they are really important in the Iowa caucuses. Some of that support has started to fall away.
But remember, it's not just this, Herman Cain got on the political map because he was talking about tax reform, 9-9-9. He was performing well in the debates. Now he's had gaffe after gaffe when it comes to foreign policy. I think he's being taken less seriously, and so there's less conversation about these kinds of personal allegations, though I think their impact will be felt.
LAUER: And before I turn it over to Chuck here for a second, this statement from Lin Wood, the attorney for Herman Cain, saying basically this is none of our business and that a consensual sexual – or an alleged consensual sexual relationship between adults falls outside the media's right to know, does that statement do more harm than good?
GREGORY: It certainly raises some questions. That is to say, "Look, those other allegations, those were legitimate questions, we can deal with that, and this is a private affair." I don't think that's going to work in this case. It suggests that, you know, maybe he doesn't want to get into this. Maybe something may have really happened, though Cain denies it. I also think it's a way to target the media here yet again and say, "Here's another example of the media coming after Herman Cain."
LAUER: Yeah, exactly, this is not, Chuck, this is not about that lawyer telling the media to back off, this is for the people out there who don't trust the media in the first place, especially what they consider to be the mainstream liberal media. They're firing up the base with that statement.
TODD: They are, and the first time that did seem to work when the first round of allegations, the sexual harassment stuff, because they were anonymous accusers and so you could rally the base there, the Tea Party conservatives that are really – that were really behind Herman Cain. They got into that and they loved attacking the media.
This, though, the accusation is not really coming from the media, it's coming from this woman. And I've already noticed you're not seeing the same rallying around Cain that you saw the first time. But just to go to the point that you started with earlier, Matt, this was a campaign that was withering on the vine. Now we're in sort of the "Sixth Sense" mode. Everybody knows this candidacy is basically dead except the campaign.
LAUER: So 36 days to go until the Iowa caucuses. Is Herman Cain at this point doing damage? I mean, he's talking about everything but policy right now. Is he doing damage to the rest of the GOP field or in some odd way, guys, and David, you could tackle this, is he helping some of the other candidates?
GREGORY: Well, I think to the extent that somebody like Newt Gingrich, who has told people, "Look, I'm not going to attack Herman Cain for any of his problems, but I'm going to wait patiently for his supporters to reluctantly come to the point of view that he can't win, as Chuck says, and get some of that support and look where Newt Gingrich is in the polls right now. He's on top. I think that power begins to consolidate against the one anti-Romney candidate. For the moment it's Newt Gingrich, some of the others have had their time, it gets difficult then to come back a second time.
LAUER: And Chuck, your take on that?
TODD: Well, yeah, I think that Cain is not necessarily hurting the field anymore. He's become a sideshow. It's almost a shiny metal object at this point. And the campaigns themselves, the other ones, Newt Gingrich was asked about this yesterday and said, "No, no, no, I'm not talking about it." It really is, yeah, a distraction, but I don't think it's hurting the field, say almost the way I think it actually was hurting the entire field during that week of focus on sexual harassment.
— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.