Herman Cain continues to strongly deny Ginger White’s allegations that they had a 13-year-long consensual affair, but he’s thinking of dropping out of the race because, as he puts it:
It’s also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine. Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters.
Whether or not you believe in his innocence depends on whether you believe that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and whether you think Cain’s accusers have generated enough smoke. As for me, I don’t know whether any of the accusations are true or not, because so far (and this includes Ms. White) we’ve not seen any evidence that I would consider powerful.
To be blunt, though, I don’t care if Cain had a sexual affair with this woman. I don’t care partly because I’ve never thought Cain’s candidacy was going to go anywhere anyway (except go away, which it might soon do). I do care that he doesn’t seem to know how to run a well-organized campaign and to effectively counter attacks, and that’s a pattern too, and perhaps a clue to what the flaws of a Cain presidency would be. I also care if he’s a serial liar, and if he went into this campaign with a history like this he’s a fool as well.
You may be as tired of all of this as I am, but I still think it’s instructive to look at the patterns here. Until now the accusations have been of harassment, but the current one by Ginger White is not of harassment but of a long-term consensual affair. But other similarities in the accusers (including White) are too strong to ignore: they tend to have made previous and/or subsequent accusations of sexual harassment about alleged perpetrators other than Cain, and usually have been awarded settlements.
And then there are the financial troubles. The accusers we’ve seen named have a history of frequent unemployment and multiple financial difficulties, sometimes even bankruptcy. White is no different:
Before [Fox in Atlanta’s] interview, we checked into Ginger White’s background. We found she filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001. That case was settled.
We also found a bankruptcy filing nearly 23 years ago in Kentucky, and a number of eviction notices here in DeKalb County over the past six years. The most recent happened this month.
Ms. White says she has been unemployed, and she is a single mom with two kids struggling to make ends meet.
A former business partner, Kimberly Vay, sued White this year after a dispute that began when White wrote disparaging comments about Vay in a mass e-mail — comments that White recanted four months later as part of a legal settlement.
“She came back and stated that everything she stated in the e-mail was completely false,” Vay said in an interview. “She admitted to making it all up out of anger and frustration.”
None of that means White is lying about Cain and the affair, just as Sharon Bialek might have been telling the truth about Cain assaulting her, despite her financially troubled past. Recall that Bialek alleged, in her press conference with Gloria Allred at her side, that Cain had not only groped her (unprovable) but been responsible for upgrading her hotel suite (potentially provable). Likewise, Ginger White has alleged that Cain paid for multiple trips and hotel rooms for her, which would also appear to be potentially documentable for some enterprising reporter—or even by White herself, who could name dates and times that could be checked out against Cain’s whereabouts. But neither woman has not offered such proof, at least so far.
There’s no doubt whatsoever that Cain and White knew each other, at least in the non-Biblical sense. His number is on her cellphone, and she’s got the cellphone records to prove that they have exchanged calls and text messages. Cain says that’s because he had been trying to help her financially. That could most definitely be a lie, although if true it could explain some of the communication (and White certainly did have serious financial problems and could probably use some help; she received an eviction notice this month).
Is this enough? Shouldn’t we (or reporters) demand something else—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? Fox in Atlanta, which broke the story, writes:
She showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678. She says it is Herman Cain’s private cell phone. The calls were made during four different months– calls or texts made as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night. The latest were in September of this year.
If I were a reporter writing this story, I think I’d have taken a moment to count how many were calls and how many text messages, and how many were to Cain and how many from him. It would seem to matter: the more calls vs. texts, and the more messages originated with Cain, the higher the likelihood that there was indeed a sexual relationship going on here. The absence of such information leads me to suspect that either (a) the reporter is incompetent, or (b) the bulk of the communication may have been texting rather than calls, and/or much more of it may have been from White to Cain than vice versa.
But the following can be no surprise to anyone who follows the press and its antics: the WaPo blog gets this part wrong [emphasis mine]:
To substantiate her claims, White showed the Atlanta reporter phone records documenting 61 calls from a number that the reporter later traced to Cain. The calls were being made as late as September 2011…
And here we have examples of the lie getting halfway round the world pretty quickly: USA Today writes [emphasis mine]:
White also supplied WAGA with phone records that showed 61 calls or text messages from one number that she said was Cain’s private cellphone.
At least the paper gets the fact that they were calls or text messages correct. Too bad it alleges they were all from Cain, although there’s no evidence of that.
Then there’s good old Politico [emphasis mine]:
White provided the station with bills that include 61 phone calls or text messages from a number that she says is Cain’s private cell phone number.
According to the report, Cain called White as recently as September 2011.
So, are these pros incapable of even minimal reading comprehension (after all, this is not such a complex set of sentences and concepts, mostly centering on the meaning of the word “or”), or is this purposeful twisting? You be the judge.
As I’ve stated before, the larger questions here have nothing to do with Cain and his possibly complex sex life. They involve the standard of proof required when accusing public figures of wrongdoing or scandal. The idea now seems to be that, if enough people come forward, the quantity of their accusations can make up for their undocumented quality. But if proof could be obtained, why not demand that some be provided? Otherwise an accuser can essentially say anything she wants, as long as she’s had some sort of contact with the public figure.