Every time some tabloid news outlet pays for an interview or a document or whatever, the media establisment waves a disapproving finger. Not ethical, say media critics such as myself.
Well, right now the National Enquirers of the world have an opportunity to engage in the most ethical pay-for-play journalism ever conducted.
Here’s the situation: Politico yesterday reported on the sexual harassment complaints of two women who formerly worked for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain as he headed the National Restaurant Association. It couldn’t identify the women because they left their jobs with settlement packages in the five-figure range; those packages reportedly contain nondisclosure clauses.
Once the story made its splash, Cain claimed to have been falsely accused by these two women. In a Fox News appearance, he called the charges “totally baseless.”
Somewhere out there are two women who are dying to put their version of events on the record. After all, enabling one party to a dispute like this to stand at podium after podium and offer his version of events without rebuttal from the other side is un-American. That, as it turns out, is the argument of the lawyer representing one of the women.
This is your cue, tabloids! Offer to compensate these women for any and all expenses — legal, payback of settlement amount, etc., etc. — they might incur for breaking their confidentiality agreement. Gin up a contract that guarantees them that they’ll lose no cash for telling their side of the story. (Probably best not to include a fee for telling their story.)
Such indemnification can only assist our democracy. No longer will a prominent candidate get to tell unchallenged tales about his office conduct; the public will have a better understanding of how he deals with women; and pay-for-play journalism will enjoy its finest hour!