This weekend saw the collapse of Herman Cain’s presidential campaign. And it’s incumbent on us to put down for the record just what happened, before the fabulists get their lies on the record. And they’re already frantically scribbling.
Cain, remember, was not brought down by sexual impropriety. He was brought down by unsubstantiated allegations of sexual impropriety, allegations never admitted to or proven. The media decided that it only had the resources to report either the quantity or the quality of the accusations, and chose to focus on how new ones emerged just as investigations into the prior one started showing how they weren’t very sturdy.
The theme was established quickly: Cain was a serial horndog and predator, and each new allegation simply reinforced that. With the theme in place, it was quite easy to keep repeating that theme, to “go with the flow” instead of seeing if the basic story had any substance.
Contrast the treatment the Cain allegations received with how similar charges were handled against Anthony Wiener, John Edwards, or Bill Clinton. In those cases, they were ignored as long as possible — it took forces outside the mainstream media (blogs, the National Enquirer, and Matt Drudge respectively) to force those stories to the forefront. (I still say Drudge and the Enquirer ought to have won Pulitzer Prizes for their work.)
This is absolute, irrefutable, undeniable proof of the double standard of the mainstream media. There was never any serious effort to prove or disprove the accusations against Cain — which were quite shaky on the surface. Instead, they were allowed to stand unchallenged.
Actually, it was worse than that. They were repeated, over and over, with the less-than-slick denials, implying that they were valid. The meme was established — Cain was a lying, irrepressible horndog and serial predator.
Contrast that with how the mainstream media treated the allegations of impropriety against Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, or Bill Clinton. The accusations were mostly ignored — when they weren’t dismissed outright. It took forces outside the mainstream media to find the evidence that they were correct before the media would acknowledge they were legitimate. (I still think Drudge and the National Enquirer deserve Pulitzers for their work on Lewinsky and Edwards respectively.)
Hell, going outside the realm of sex scandals, imagine if the media had shown the same skepticism towards Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 they showed Cain. Hillary’s numerous fabrications (Hillary was named after Sir Edmund Hilary, she came under sniper fire in Tuzla, etc.) and Obama’s sketchy contacts (Rezko, Wright, Ayers, et al) would have been disqualifying traits. Instead, they worked overtime to bury them. In essence, they were told by the candidates and their campaigns “those are nothing” and chose to take their word for it.
This is not how it’s supposed to work. This is a betrayal of the very essence of the ideals behind freedom of the press. And we need to stop falling for it.