A week and a half ago, Politico produced a huge story on two women who accused Herman Cain of sexually inappropriate conduct when he led the National Restaurant Association. The reporters who did the story knew the names of these accusers but didn’t blast them into the public realm. Here’s how the story explained that decision:
POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.
Since the story broke, news organizations all around town have learned the names of the accusers but have followed Politico’s lead in respecting their privacy. After all, there’s a strong case to be made for leaving them alone: Their complaints against Cain date back more than a decade; they resolved the matters and moved on with their lives. From what we can tell, they didn’t want this story to surface. And they clearly didn’t want the scrutiny that is now working over Sharon Bialek, who went public with her story yesterday.
So what news outlet on earth was going to out them? What news outlet was going to put an unwilling face to this particular story?
Well, Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily, of course. Way to poke the media establishment, Murdoch — even if it means ruining some woman’s life!
We won’t do The Daily the courtesy of linking the story. Nor will we repeat the name or any of the details it’s reported. We will note, though, that the story appears to have scant sourcing behind the notion that this woman actually filed a complaint against Herman Cain. It merely states that as a fact and proceed to profile her.
The Daily apparently wants to enjoy the web traffic from this “scoop” without having to answer the privacy or sourcing questions that it has raised. An e-mail to one of the story’s reporters, Deborah Hastings, has gone unanswered. A phone call to The Daily’s editor, Jesse Angelo, has gone unreturned. All I’ve gotten is an e-mail from a PR person who represents the Daily:
“The details of the allegations against Mr. Cain, a top contender for the GOP nomination for President, are important and newsworthy, as is the credibility of the allegations, who made them, and why.”
Also not commenting are the woman’s attorney and a relative quoted in the Daily’s story. The Erik Wemple Blogger wanted to know if that relative was authorized or encouraged to speak about the accuser. The relative hung up the phone hurriedly as soon as I declared who I was.
What’s the uplifting part of the story? That it took the sleaziest corner of the U.S. media more than a week to do this. Also: Now Herman Cain has some actual, real, legitimate matters of ethics over which to scold the media.