The Art of Accusation: Politico’s Gutless Smear of Herman Cain

Politico has begun the media’s “high tech lynching” of Herman Cain. At dawn, the online news magazine published an anonymously sourced, deny-this-if-you-can, attack piece on Herman Cain, alleging that he sexually harassed two women.

Oh, Politico didn’t allege that. The two faceless women, whose claims were never substantiated, did. The women were said to be given financial settlements to leave The National Restaurant Association, a trade association Cain was the head of at the time.

Let us briefly leave aside Politico’s shameful lack of journalistic ethics and do what journalists are actually supposed to do: Ask pointed questions. What may have been the motivation for these two anonymous women to accuse Cain of “sexual harassment”? Could it have been the said financial settlement?  Shouldn’t the burden of proof then be on Politico to substantiate the allegations, rather than rehash old charges at a politically inconvenient time for Herman Cain, who is heading into the Iowa Caucuses? Shouldn’t Politico explain that the accusers could not have been motivated by financial gain? Like in the Duke rape case, for example?

But the framing is the thing, and Politico aims to abuse its influence by seeding the thought that Herman Cain is possibly a lecherous old creep into potential voters’ minds.

This is a classic trick that hinges on two things: Make the candidate address the charges, and force him to try to prove a negative. This Alinskyite tactic is meant to infuriate the accused, whose righteous indignation is then interpreted as having struck a chord. If the accused laughs the charge off, he could then be interpreted as dismissive and unserious. For those who want to believe the charge, there is very little one can do to refute it.

Moderates and partisans who uncritically receive information are not likely to be dissuaded of the lie by a logical refutation of the truth. But for those who grasp logic and use it to interpret news and politics, they know that you cannot “prove a negative.”

Accusing Cain of being a lascivious sexual predator is akin to the media’s constant charge that the tea party is “racist.” How do you prove otherwise? Supporting a solid black conservative nominee for president is one way. And that is why the leftwing media is threatened – they are being exposed as complete hacks in the tank for the Democrat Party. And as Ann Coulter put it, “there is nothing liberals fear more than a black conservative.”

Such spurious allegations as Politico’s smear of Cain that he is a sexual harasser (though the media didn’t have a problem when Bill Clinton was proved to be one) are very similar to two other cases when the left dragged this tactic out of its playbook, both targeting conservative candidates.

The first obvious example is the Clarence Thomas trial, when disgruntled staffer Anita Hill was coached and egged on by leftwing organizations to accuse Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. As a recent NRO memorium of the trial prefaced the confirmation hearings:

Pres. George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court on July 1, 1991. Four days later, the National Organization for Women (NOW) declared war.

“We’re going to bork him,” vowed member Flo Kennedy. “We need to kill him politically.”

The media circus surrounding the hearing ultimately failed, however, and Clarence Thomas became a vanguard for the conservative cause and a leader on the Supreme Court.

But the more recent example shows Politico to be playing with fire. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the New York Times accused Washington lobbyist Vicki Iseman of having an affair with candidate John McCain. The story quickly disappeared off the front pages, and the New York Times had to settle out of court to keep a defamation case from going to trial.

Posing as an impartial blog of “insider” political news, Politico has revealed itself to be a collaboration of hacks in the mold of “Journolist.” As such, it might not care much if it gets sued for defaming Herman Cain.  The publication could get its political and financial rewards another way, which would more than compensate it for its trouble.

If the smear succeeds, Politico would have hypothetically derailed a threatening campaign at a crucial moment, assisting the campaigns of more beltway-friendly candidates like Mitt Romney or even Rick Perry. And it would would have defended President Obama’s right flank against a minority candidate. All because uncritical or unthinking voters are seldom able to differentiate between an accusation and the established truth.

As for Politico’s reputation, it is in the gutter and won’t be looking to claw its way out anytime soon.

As posted on Political Crush.

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8 thoughts on “The Art of Accusation: Politico’s Gutless Smear of Herman Cain

  1. Great post! This whole situation is utter nonsense. This is just an obvious political play….Americans can see right through this. I just hope Cain handles it in the right way, and doesn’t stumble all over it. It could be his undoing….

  2. Well said!!!

    This attack on Cain demonstrates how concern the Progressives (Left & Right) are of his increasing momentum. I suspect he will get a bounce in the ratings and increase in donations from this ugly and irresponsible media report.

  3. Hey Bill Clinton is the biggest womanizer to ever be President so why not pick on flippin Billy Boy and let Herman have his campaign and stop her- assing him. My God this country is all _ ucked up, I am not proud of our country since Obama got elected, he has toted this country as a subject to other country’s Dicktators. Obama is right about change, we need God to come into our hearts and change the hate to love, We need a changed heart from the ways of wicked evil deceit to a heart that believes in Jesus Christ as our savior, not some leader or group.

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