The Washington Post

Cain crisis management worse than underlying offenses?

As Herman Cain and his underlings blunder their way around this sexual-harassment mess, a question is beginning to emerge. Colby Hall addressed it today in a post at Mediaite. He was writing about the attempt of Cain staffer Mark Block, on Fox News this afternoon, to walk back the campaign’s allegation that Curt Anderson, an adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was responsible for leaking the story to Politico.

Hall wrote of Block’s unconvincing performance:

To say that Block looked like a deer caught in the headlights does a disservice to deer. His confused response, which you can watch for yourself below courtesy of Fox News, appeared to at the same time strike a forgiving tone towards Anderson, but not back away from what he had previously called a smear. The appearance reasserts the growing concern among many political pundits that the more damning issue with this harassment story is not the pattern of behavior it may or may not suggest of the candidate, but the inept handling of the allegations at every possible turn.

That’s a valid observation: Pundits do seem more concerned about the candidate’s crisis-management skills than about the alleged behavior behind the crisis. Every time I look up at the TV, there’s some strategist abhorring the “handling” of the story.

This is abhorrent in and of itself. Though the details of the alleged misconduct are still sketchy, ineptitude at handling the media is a far more benign shortcoming than, say, a penchant for inviting female subordinates up to hotel suites or apartments. I myself have wondered aloud why Cain didn’t tell his full story from the beginning. Yet given the choice, I’ll take a leader with a clean sexual-harassment record and ham-handed crisis management skills over the reverse. Any day.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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