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“Politico failure to respond raises questions”

“Politico failure to respond raises questions”

Politico relied on anonymous sources not just for the tipoff on the Herman Cain story, but for some of the details as to the nature of the accusations.  Yet Politico refuses to provide any context for the sources so that readers could judge the credibility of the accusations based on the placement of the source.

This stands in contrast, for example, to Politico’s use of terms such as “senior administration official” or identifier of a person in an organization who “requested anonymity.”  This terminology protects the identity of the source, yet provides context for readers to judge the likely veracity of the otherwise anonymous statement.  Politico uses such terminology for even national security issues.

Apparently, the source for the Cain accusations must be kept even more secret than the identity of those who convey national security information.

I didn’t really expect an answer, and have not received one as of this posting, but here’s the e-mail I sent to John Harris and Jim Vandehei of Politco at 11:14 this morning, with the subject line “Inquiry re your position on Cain source”:

I’m doing a post soon about Politico’s Cain story, and I wanted to make sure I had your position on the source correct. I understand that you refuse not only to name the person or persons, but also refuse to characterize them as being affiliated or not with another campaign or otherwise. This would seem inconsistent with your frequent use of terms such as “senior administration official” which protects the identity of the person, but permits readers to put the source in some context.

Can you confirm Politico’s position on what it will or will not reveal about the source, and why it will not reveal whether the person is affiliated in any way with another campaign?


Bill Jacobson
Legal Insurrection Blog

Does this delay in response allow me to use this headline on the post?


Who knows, there may be a career for me yet in the mainstream media.

As to Politico’s position on the source, I’ll let you know if I hear back.


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Professor Jacobson’s letter to Politico raises questions

The Politico hack (John Harris) was on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR this morning. He not only re-iterated his shpiel on how he “ethically” won’t comment on anything other what was reported, he was actually lauded for his “journalistic integrity” by his close friend/Washington Post hack (Ruth Marcus) who was also on the show. The other guest, an attorney who specializes in employment law, including settlement-type workplace issues, was the third guest, who nicely pointed out that a settlement means the problem went away, not who was the problem. My inner HR professional was cheering loudly for her.

RE: Failure to hear back. Don’t. Hold. Breath.

NobodyImportant | November 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

This whole thing is such a blatant hit piece and muddy politics. I’m glad Cain is raising big bucks off of it. In fact, when they announced a record day in fundraising, I dug deep and donated myself today. I hope tomorrow is a bigger record.

The press showed how biased they were in 2008.
Now they’re showing how depraved and desperate they are.

Screw ’em. Report the facts or be replaced MSM!

    The real Republican opponent is the press. They’ll do whatever they can to choose the weakest candidate possible for us. Then they’ll trash that candidate for not being a far-left Democrat.

      macaquerman in reply to Crawford. | November 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      The real Republican opponent is the press. They’ll do whatever they can to choose the weakest candidate possible for us.

      _the real opponent is whomever decided to pas this to the press. … and that’s more likely a Repub tied to a different contender for the nomination.

      the press doesn’t choose the candidate, Crawford and if the Repub primary voters are too stupid to evaluate candidates decently and fairly,,,,,, blaming “the press” is rather fruitless.

      might as well blame the lemmings running in front of you.

That would be “Politico’s failure to respond UNEXPECTEDLY raises questions.”

Some critics have charged that Politico . Other critics ignored the issue entirely.


Great counter-offensive! Headline needs to find its way into main stream channels; get public scrutiny diverted to credibility of John Harris and Jim Vandehei.

Network with journalists @ balanced sites like WSJ who still care for objective reporting and journalistic integrity to start new meme.

I really admire you Prof Jacobson, but covering for Cain by suggesting this blew up on short notice to him is out of character for you. CAIN HAD TO KNOW THIS WAS IN HIS PAST, yet he did nothing to pre-empt it early in his campaign and HAD NO MEDIA PLAN when he was confronted with it. I understand that Politico is not playing fair — did you think that Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia and China are going to play fair with him if he’s POTUS? If Cain is not ready for shots he should know are coming, how can we trust him to deal with the serious threats in the world?

    Crawford in reply to Mark30339. | November 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Why did he have to know it was coming? Nearly 20 years ago, settled without his involvement, a nothing event as far as any sane person is concerned.

    But your position is noted — Cain is unsuited for office because of a press hit job on him. Gotcha.

    Hope you like 4 more years of Obama.

      retire05 in reply to Crawford. | November 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm

      Oooops, Crawford, Cain admitted this morning that Politico had contacted his campaign, and even gave them the name of one of the women, ten days before the story was published. So Team Cain had a ten day period to deal with this story, organize a damage control plan and get out in front of it. But Cain said they decided to let the story run and then deal with it. Not a wise move. Leading from behind only works of you are a Democrat.

      But let’s look at what has actually transpired:

      Cain’s campaign says the story’s false

      Cain pops off and asks a reporter “have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?” Not a time to be a smart alec about a serious issue.

      Cain’s campaign manager calls into the Gerald Rivera Show but leaves the audience with more questions than he answered. Not a good move.

      Cain says yesterday morning on Fox that yes, he was accused of sexual harrassment but he never sexual harrassed anyone and he knew it was settled, but didn’t know the details of the settlement.

      But by yesterday afternoon, when the Greta show interview was taped, it seems that Cain’s memory had improved substantially. Not only did he remember details of the “incident” but he also went into detail about the woman having a lawyer, they were demanding a lot of money, and that there was a “settlement” that was more like a severance pay situation, and she got three months salary, maybe only two months salary. He also said she was a bad employee, in so many words. Cain did a total 180 from yesterday morning where he didn’t know anything to a seemingly good memory about what happened and how much the woman was paid.

      Now, let’s take today: the lawyer for one of the women involved, the one Cain bashed as being a bad employee, has now come out and ask that Cain give permission to the National Restaurant Association to release all the documents involved in the accusations. Cain has said that he is taking that up with his lawyers. It is also now being reported that the woman was paid, not the 3, or perhaps 2, months salary as Cain claimed, but $35,000 which was equal to her annual income.

      So here is the deal: the woman was insulted enough (or claimed she was) that she hired a lawyer. Her lawyer negotiated the settlement (pay off) and she left the National Restaurant Association and now currently works for the federal government. The woman in question signed a confidentiality agreement so she is bound by law not to discuss the terms of the agreement or even the incident, itself. But Herman Cain revealed some of the terms of agreement (a settlement) so perhaps the good professer can tell us if she is now bound by her agreement.

      Cain also slandered the woman by making statements about her job performance. So now, beside wanting the NRA to release all the documents, she intends to go public with her story. Cain, a nationally known figure, indicated she was a poor employee and that could have ramifications for her down the road if she ever wanted to change jobs. That, Crawford, is slander. With a slander case, you have to prove financial damages and she has Herman Cain on national TV saying she was a poor employee.

      So here are my questions that perhaps someone will be willing to tackle:

      if you are an important head of an important lobbying firm, and you are accused of sexual improprieties, which could destroy your career, do you ever forget the details of that part of your life? Especially if you are a minister, to boot?

      if you are innocent of the charges against you, why do you change your story 180 degrees in less than 24 hours? The mere fact that you were accused of something so severe as sexual harrassemtn would stick with you the rest of your life and you would not be prone to forget any part of the whole nasty affair.

      if your story is true, that the claims were baseless and the woman was not found credible, why do you have to confirm with legal counsel before you agree to have all the documents on the issue released?

      I don’t know if Cain did was he was accused of doing. Only he, and the women involved, know that. But I do know his campaign staff should be fired because they have handled this issue miserably. So even though the good professor wants all the names of sources, what part of the Politico story has not been proven since, yes, Cain was accused by two women of improprieties, yes, the women were paid off basically in a “pay off to shut up” deal.

        BannedbytheGuardian in reply to retire05. | November 1, 2011 at 11:53 pm

        Retire I was just over on the tele blog about Neanderthals & remnant genes. It is quite probable that Mr cain -if he is pure AA stock – has NO remnant Neanderthal Gene.

        I put that possible PR defence in as a reply to you because you have made a long post & I would hate for no one to respond.


        spartan in reply to retire05. | November 2, 2011 at 7:21 am


        Well stated. It seems all the speculation over Cain’s innocence in this matter is wishful thinking. It appears the nuisance value is far greater than what I would deem nuisance value. Cain also does not appear to know when to shut-up. It is as though he was begging to have this re-litigated again 15 years later. Does he honestly believe confidentiality applied to the accuser and not to him?

        If the allegations that the leak came from a Romney supporter are true, will the people who speculated that Perry was the culprit publicly apologize?

        BTW, there is a really good article at Conservatives4Palin which notes how some of the conservatives defending Cain on this matter never bothered to defend Palin from worse and far scurrilous attacks.

          retire05 in reply to spartan. | November 2, 2011 at 11:15 am

          spartan, there are ususally two issues that no conservative can survive: sexual harassment, and racism. I did a little research yesterday and found that Rick Perry’s popularity rating started going down after two events; one, his reportedly poor debate and two, the article in the WaPo about a racist rock.

          People are defending Cain without knowing the truth. No documents have been released, and so far, it is simply Cain’s [suddenly found] memory of the incidents. He has been allowed to spin the story to his benefit, of course, declaring his innocense. Now, I don’t expect him to do any differently, but I do expect those reporting on the story to provide a little more objectivity to their reporting. So far, all the so-called conservative pundits are declaring Cain innocent without proof.

          When all the false things were said about Sarah Palin, I was ashamed that once they were proven false, no right wing pundits came to her defense. Now they are like lemmings following the Herman Cain Pied Piper. Where were they when Rick Perry was accused of racism? No where to be found.

          Now, Cain is trumping the race card by saying yes, he thinks he is being attacked because he is black. What happened to the guy who was NOT going to use race in his campaign? Did he magically disappear?

          I think at least one of the women will come forward and go public. I sure wouldn’t allow Cain to ruin my reputation by saying I was a bad employee and indicating I was nothing more than a gold digger.

          This ain’t over by a long shot.

        Thank you Retire05 for those wonderful DNC talking points.

        My take on this? An obvious hit-piece designed to make Cain go on the defensive and make mistakes. One of which would be to comment on the settlement, which would release the woman from the terms so she can “go public”. Which may have happened (depending on which liberal judge rules). Expect this woman to have a totally spontaneous and not made up ahead of time book on the stands in the next two weeks titled “Herman Cain made a Gesture at me and all I got was Lawyers Fees”

          retire05 in reply to georgfelis. | November 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

          georefelis, no one, not you, not I, not the good professor, knows exactly what happened. There have been no documents, no internal investigation data from the National Restaurant Associatio, released. The only people who knows exactly what happened are Herman Cain and the women involved.

          Will Professor Jacobson use Herman Cain’s statements that he thinks he is being attacked because he is black on the Saturay Night Race Card game? Somehow, I doubt it.

          But unless you have been privy to the actual documentation in this scandal, you are simply going on blind faith that Herman Cain is being truthful, although he changed his story the first 24 hours by a total 180.

IANAL but if first-person testimony is not provided, it’s just hearsay. Right? And given their track record, who’d put any stock in MSM sources anyway?


BannedbytheGuardian | November 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I have never ever met a man who stood in close proximity to a woman & said “you are the same height as my wife”

Mostly because they have never noticed the it .

But if any man had ever stood next to me & compared me to his wife I would be outta there . It is just creepy.


    If his wife is unusually tall or short, it might be something he noticed. I dated a girl who was 5′ tall to my 6′ tall, and I *still* notice when a woman is that height.

    Would it have been creepy if he compared their hair color? Eye color? Shoes?

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Crawford. | November 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      ‘Well hello there Mister. I once dated a man your height”. You would think I was a bit odd.

      ” You have the same eye colour , hair colur , even shoes as my wife”. I would definitely think you were odd.

      It is not actionable but I think I would avoid you if it were a workplace. Elsewhere I would tell you to f … off.

    Seriously? And what other imagined slights might give you “the vapors”?

    Making a casual and absolutely *non-sexual* observation noting that the person being spoken to has some characteristic that is similar to someone the speaker knows (spouse or not) SHOULD NOT BE grounds for offense, and is certainly not inherently “creepy.” If the listener is that prone to offense, the problem is with the listener, not the speaker.

BannedbytheGuardian | November 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm

“the it ‘ he he what you get when you are thinking something & trying to say something entirely different.

“Politico Tacitly Admits Cain Hit Piece Skirted Own Rules” seems perfectly justified and highlights their bias and lack of professional integrity.

So, the CEO who followed Herman Cain at the NRA is now a $1,000 contributor to Mitt Romney, huh?

Maybe some energetic reporter should ask Romney if he will return donations if anything is found to have originated from his donor!

If only journalism were an exact science … as it is, it doesn’t even meet the “rigors” of the “social sciences.”

Maybe then it wouldn’t always seem to err to the advantage of one side … always the same side.

Actually, “senior administration official” provides little context and tells me next to nothing. How do I know what the reporter considers “senior” or, for that matter, who the reporter considers an “administration official?”

I’m not so sure about all this. I figure the Republican candidates benefit most from a scandal this early, not liberals. So I’m wondering if NEWT fed the story to Politico.

And 3 2 1 until the female complainant, a FEDERAL employee and IVY LEAGUE GRADUATE, comes forward and starts embellishing the original story, complete with angry clenched jaw and the revelation that it ruined her whole life in spite of the $140,000 job and $100,000 pension complete with benefits.

Way to take the lead! Every blogger should be sending this same note to Politico.

Surely there’s gotta be more to this story.

Like a pubic hair and a Coke can.

If another campaign steered Politico to this story, which I strongly believe to be likely, Politico will never admit it. You can’t be a publication whose only beat is politics and allow yourself to be used as a campaign weapon directly. Of course, you can be biased and play favorites and beat up non-favorites. All that is expected, but you cannot literally wield the axe.

How about the possibility (raise by another blog) that the tattler was the victim, who could not be ID’d due to the ‘secrecy’ agreement?

An interesting tidbit as to the “source:”

Former President of National Restaurant Association has Ties to the Mitt Romney Campaign

From Free Republic:

The lawyer for one of the Cain accusers, Joel P. Bennett, just told the panel on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show that it was “his understanding” that the allegation was “leaked to Politico from a Board member of the National Restaurant Association”.

Could it have been the former President of the NRA who took over after Cain left, who is a Romney supporter?

I’m sure all this speculation about whodunnit makes a great parlor game, but can’t ya’ll find something better to do than to indulge in more partisan BS?

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