NBC Portrays Herman Cain's Presidential Run as Money-Making Scheme

On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer noted Herman Cain leading the Republican presidential field but wondered: "is he really aiming for the Oval Office or something else?" In the report that followed, correspondent Michael Isikoff proclaimed: "Herman Cain is facing new questions about whether he is profiting from his own campaign."

Isikoff reported: "Cain's campaign committee has used $100,000, collected from donors, to pay Cain's own company for thousands of these booklets written and self-published by Cain. That means profits for Cain himself and could run afoul of campaign laws, say watchdog groups." A sound bite was played of Craig Holman from the left-wing group Public Citizen declaring: "This has every appearance that Herman Cain is running for president largely to sell books and enrich his own company."

Continuing to imply a scandal, Isikoff explained: "Federal rules prohibit a candidate from using campaign funds for personal benefit, but Cain's aides say the payments to his company are allowed and were vetted by a campaign lawyer."

Trying to bolster the case against Cain, Isikoff asserted: "The payments have fueled criticism, even among some Republicans, that Cain is using the presidential race to promote a post-campaign career as a highly paid writer and speaker that could take off much the way Sarah Palin's did."

On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, Isikoff did another hit piece on Cain, declaring of the businessman's 9-9-9 tax plan: "...critics see more pain, not gain, for struggling families."


Here is a full transcript of the October 21 report:

7:10AM ET

MATT LAUER: According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Herman Cain now leads the GOP field, but is he really aiming for the Oval Office or something else? NBC's national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff takes a look. Michael, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Campaign Profit; Is Herman Cain Making Money From White House Run?]

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Good morning, Matt. Whether or not he wins the Republican nomination, Herman Cain may still come out a big winner by running for president. As he shakes up the Republican primary race, Herman Cain is facing new questions about whether he is profiting from his own campaign. Filings made public this week show that Cain's campaign committee has used $100,000, collected from donors, to pay Cain's own company for thousands of these booklets written and self-published by Cain. That means profits for Cain himself and could run afoul of campaign laws, say watchdog groups.

CRAIG HOLMAN [PUBLIC CITIZEN]: The company is going to benefit, and when the company benefits, Herman Cain is going to benefit. This has every appearance that Herman Cain is running for president largely to sell books and enrich his own company.

ISIKOFF: Federal rules prohibit a candidate from using campaign funds for personal benefit, but Cain's aides say the payments to his company are allowed and were vetted by a campaign lawyer. Cain himself dismisses the perception that he's running to make a profit.

HERMAN CAIN: If they know Herman Cain, they wouldn't even make such an assertion. How's that for political correctness?

ISIKOFF: But the payments have fueled criticism, even among some Republicans, that Cain is using the presidential race to promote a post-campaign career as a highly paid writer and speaker that could take off much the way Sarah Palin's did. The company that got the payments is called The New Voice. Cain is the sole owner. On its website, The New Voice sells books, pamphlets and DVDs that chart Cain's career as CEO of Godfather's Pizza and motivational speaker.

CAIN: I had achieved what I had hoped for all my life!

ISIKOFF: Businessweek reported that Cain has earned $250,000 this year continuing to give motivational speeches. And just two weeks ago, instead of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, Cain was on a book tour for his new book, This is Herman Cain, published by Simon & Shuster. It debut's this week at number five on The New York Times best-seller list.

CAIN: I can promote a book and campaign at the same time.

ISIKOFF: Cain certainly isn't the first presidential candidate to write a book while running for office. And so far, his strategy has been working, he's at the top of most polls. But he still has only has a skeletal campaign staff and reportedly hasn't even gotten on the ballot in some primary states. That makes his bid for the presidency still very much an uphill race. Matt.

LAUER: Alright, Michael Isikoff. Michael, thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC