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Klavan On The Culture

Why We Should Be Unfair to Herman Cain

November 7th, 2011 - 7:03 am

"We're from the mainstream media and we're here to help."

Conservatives have been expressing genuine anguish at the recent treatment of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

It isn’t fair, they say. In 1998, when Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff got the full details of President Bill Clinton’s adulterous affair with a 21-year-old intern, the magazine killed the story, leaving the nascent new media, in the person of The Drudge Report, to bring it to light. In 2007, when John Edwards was still a viable Democratic presidential candidate, the National Enquirer broke the news of his illicit affair and illegitimate child, but the mainstream media actually covered it up, with one CNN journalist explaining it was “unimportant.”

And yet when the left wing news website Politico recently published anonymous allegations about 10-year-old sexual harassment complaints against Cain, the mainstream media lit up like a Christmas tree. For a week, the aforementioned CNN and the other left wing outlets went wall-to-wall with the charges. And now, with Sharon Bialek finally stepping forward to make more detailed accusations in person—accusations Cain wholly denies—we can be sure the story will remain explosive for some time to come.

Not only is the news coverage of alleged sexual misconduct different according to political affiliation, the consequences of actual misconduct are often quite different as well. Republican congressman Mark Foley sent suggestive emails to male pages; he resigned under GOP pressure. Democratic congressman Gerry Studds actually had sex with one of the boys, then flung defiance at the House when they censured him; he was re-elected by Democrats until his retirement.

And what if a drunken Republican senator had accidentally dropped a car containing his adultery mate into the water? What if he had sauntered back to his hotel to clean up while the poor woman desperately pounded on the car window until she drowned horribly? Would conservatives have re-elected that man? Would they have declared that man “The Lion of the Senate?” The very idea makes one ill. Conservatives would have demanded his arrest and trial with a single voice.

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