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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 02:59 PM ET, 12/05/2011

NYT: Politico? What Politico?


Herman Cain: Accusers just seep through the woodwork. (AP Photo/The Greenville News, Bart Boatwright)
To what lengths will the New York Times go to avoid crediting Politico? The paper’s news account of Herman Cain’s presidential campaign suspension provides at least four clues.

On Oct. 30, Politico broke the news that two former colleagues of Cain’s at the National Restaurant Association had lodged sexual harassment complaints against him. The story prompted more stories about alleged victims of the candidate’s behavior. And those stories, in turn, prompted another story from a woman who claimed to have had a 13-year affair with Cain.

So the whole Cain-collapse belongs journalistically to Politico.

Yet anyone who took an Internet vacation over the past 40 days and came upon the New York Times’ story on Cain, which ran on Sunday’s front page, might just conclude that the candidate’s sexually driven unraveling was the product of wind patterns, or something cosmic. Herewith a look at key passages in the Times story, followed by the likely reaction of the Internet Vacationer.

Times account:

Toward the end of October, more than one survey found Mr. Cain, who has never held elected office, essentially tied with Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has consistently been near the top in most polls.
But accusations of sexual misconduct rocked the campaign of a candidate who professed to be a devout Christian and family man. And some of the details were graphic.
A Chicago woman, Sharon Bialek, was the first to come forward publicly.

Reaction of Internet Vacationer: That’s something — this woman just burst out of the blue and made sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain. Don’t see that too often.

Times account:

Within days, a second woman came forward. That woman, Karen Kraushaar, 55, worked in the government affairs office of the restaurant association for a relatively short time from 1998 to 1999, her tenure being cut short, she said, by her run-ins with Mr. Cain and the discomfort it created for her.

Reaction of Internet Vacationer: And just like that, another accuser! Can’t imagine what would have compelled her to do something like that.

Times account:

From the moment the harassment accusations were revealed, Mr. Cain proclaimed his innocence and sought to cast blame for what he called a smear campaign in a number of different directions.

Reaction of Internet Vacationer: Now that’s a strange use of the passive voice.

Times account:

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, a fifth woman, Ginger White, came forward, telling a local television reporter in Atlanta that she and Mr. Cain had only recently ended a 13-year extramarital affair.

Reaction of Internet Vacationer: Oh, so looks like this local television reporter in Atlanta kicked off this whole thing. Nice work by the local television reporter in Atlanta.

Five weeks after the revelations “were revealed,” there’s no obligation to credit Politico in every story about Cain’s downfall. But in a comprehensive look-back piece like this? C’mon.

UPDATE: Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times calls to point out that this is no trend story: At least six front-page stories, says Rutenberg, plus several less prominent stories credited Politico’s scoop.

By  |  02:59 PM ET, 12/05/2011

 
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