Via The Hill, and about a thousand other outlets:

Herman Cain told members of his staff that he is “reassessing” his decision to remain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination following new allegations that he conducted a 13-year-long affair with an Atlanta businesswoman.

“Cain told senior staff this morning that he is “reassessing” whether to stay in race. Will make final decision soon,” Robert Costa, a reporter for the National Review, tweeted Tuesday.

That report was then confirmed by campaign manager Mark Block to ABC News.

National Review has the transcript of the call.

This will all be used to justify Politico’s original reporting, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  The issue never was whether the settlements or allegations of sexual harassment were fair game; I took the position at the very beginning that they were legitimate vetting issues but that the public was entitled to facts as to the allegations, not just Politico’s characterization.

Early on I also suggested that what Politico really was doing was trying to smoke out other accusers, and that in fact was the effect.  We’ll never know the truth of what happened, and for most of the accusers we don’t even know their names or what the accusations were, but it worked.

Is it bad that it worked?  Well, the result is that a candidate who may (I repeated “may” not “does”) have skeletons in the closet likely will be forced from the race.  That’s not bad.

But next time the broad characterizations, anonymous sources, and media fishing expedition may be directed at a Republican candidate who does not have skeletons in the closet, it just will be made to look like he does.

Update:  Shortly after this post, Jim Vandehei posted his justification of Politico’s reporting.  It’s pretty much what you would expect.  He uses the volume of complaints — most of which he fails to acknowledge remain anonymous and unspecified to the public — to justify the use of anonymous and unspecified accusations.  Those which were specified had nothing to do with Politico’s reporting.

Politico’s chicanery is exemplified in this passage:

He needs voters to believe that Karen Kraushaar is a liar, too — that she was so  sensitive or so vindictive that she marched into the NRA’s human resources  department in 1999 to file a bogus sexual harassment complaint against Cain,  then her boss. Cain says the only thing he recalls ever saying to her was that  she was the same height as his wife.

In fact, Kraushaar never has revealed what her accusations were despite being released from a confidentiality agreement, and the public never has seen a shred of evidence to support the unknown accusations.  Yet Vandehei acts as if Herman Cain needs people to disbelieve Kraushaar; how can we believe or disbelieve that which we don’t even know?

We are so far down the rabbit hole that there isn’t even any light.

And, good post at Neo-Neocon, Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof?

Shouldn’t we (or reporters) demand somethingelse—besides a couple of friendly but non-intimate inscriptions in a book, which she alleges Cain made?  A compromising note would do; it’s not necessary to have a semen-stained blue dress. Did White not save an especially tender text message or voicemail recording, as lovers often do?  Were there no sweet-nothing emails?

And who was sending most of those 61 calls or text messages that Smith’s records provided: Smith herself, or Cain?