CBS Reporter Recites Media Bias Critique on Cain Coverage

On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Jan Crawford spotlighted conservative criticism of the broad media coverage of the Herman Cain sexual harassment charges. Crawford stated that Cain's "testy exchange" with reporters "could help...because a lot of conservatives...think there's this huge liberal bias against conservatives. You know, the media didn't cover Bill Clinton...like they're doing Herman Cain."

The correspondent noted the right-leaning argument in response to a statement from anchor Erica Hill about a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that had Cain just barely behind Mitt Romney at the front of the GOP presidential pack: "It would seem these allegations didn't have much of an impact in the latest polling." Just prior to this, the morning show played a sound bite of Cain refusing to answer a reporter's question on the controversy at a weekend press conference.

Crawford first stated that "in that same poll, seven in ten Republicans say the charges just don't matter at this point, and that's really what we're picking up in our reporting out in Iowa and other key states." She continued with a personal anecdote before going into the conservative charge:

Jan Crawford, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCRAWFORD: I was in Alabama over the weekend, for example, for the Alabama/LSU game....[and] the fans, when they weren't talking about the game, they wanted to talk about Herman Cain. They like Herman Cain, and they want to believe that these allegations just can't be true, because then, they feel like they may have to go somewhere else. So, so far, it's just not registering with his supporters.

And, you know, let me just add- that exchange that we just saw, that testy exchange- that's another thing that could help Herman Cain because a lot of conservatives don't trust the media. They think there's this huge liberal bias against conservatives. You know, the media didn't cover Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy like they're doing Herman Cain. So, some of this stuff could actually come back to help him.

Near the end of the segment, the CBS correspondent highlighted President Obama's bad poll numbers a year ahead of the 2012 presidential election:

HILL: Real quickly, before we let you go, what are the numbers looking like for President Obama, as we are now one year out from Election Day essentially?

CRAWFORD: Right. I mean, it's one year. You know, it's going to be tough for him, and everyone knows it. He knows it; his campaign knows it; disapproval ratings right now- 53% in some of the latest polls. It's going to be tough, but, you know, they say they're ready to fight. So it's going to be quite a race, and already, you're seeing- you know, they're going after Mitt Romney. So I think Democrats think that's who the nominee is going to be on the Republican side.

On Monday, the MRC's Scott Whitlock noted how the Big Three networks have devoted 84 stories to the Herman Cain story in just one week. By comparison, when Juanita Broaddrick accused former President Bill Clinton of rape in 1998, there were only four stories during the week after.

The transcript of the relevant portion from the Jan Crawford segment on Monday's Early Show, beginning at the four minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour mark:

JEFF GLOR: We're going to turn now to politics. The sexual harassment claims against presidential candidate Herman Cain may not be sending voters away from him. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 23% of Republicans support Cain. He's just one point behind Mitt Romney.

[CBS News Graphic: "Washington Post/ABC News Poll: GOP Presidential Candidates: Romney, 24%; Cain, 23%; Perry, 13%; Gingrich, 12%; Margin Of Error: +/- 3.5% Pts."]

ERICA HILL: In the meantime, Cain is telling everyone he is done talking about those allegations. Listen to this exchange he had with reporters over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 1: Mr. Cain, the attorney for one of the women who filed a sexual harassment complaint against-

HERMAN CAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't even go there.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: No gossip-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 1: Can I ask my question?

CAIN: No.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: No gossip-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 2: May I ask a good question?

CAIN: Where's my chief of staff?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: I'm right here-

CAIN: Please send him the journalistic code of ethics.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Will do-

HILL: Political correspondent Jan Crawford is here with more on the GOP campaign. Jan, good morning-

JAN CRAWFORD: Good morning-

HILL: We mentioned that ABC News poll which, essentially, in some ways, mirrors the latest CBS/New York Times poll from a week or two ago, with both Romney and Cain neck-and-neck. It would seem these allegations didn't have much of an impact in the latest polling.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Cain Stays Strong In New Poll"]


CRAWFORD: Well, no- I mean, so far, they're not, and in that same poll, seven in ten Republicans say the charges just don't matter at this point, and that's really what we're picking up in our reporting out in Iowa and other key states. I was in Alabama over the weekend, for example, for the Alabama/LSU game-

GLOR: Sorry about that, by the way-

CRAWFORD: I'm still in mourning, but I got on my crimson-

GLOR: (laughs) All right-

CRAWFORD: But, you know, everywhere, the voters- I mean, the fans, when they weren't talking about the game, they wanted to talk about Herman Cain. They like Herman Cain, and they want to believe that these allegations just can't be true, because then, they feel like they may have to go somewhere else. So, so far, it's just not registering with his supporters. And, you know, let me just add- that exchange that we just saw, that testy exchange- that's another thing that could help Herman Cain because a lot of conservatives don't trust the media. They think there's this huge liberal bias against conservatives. You know, the media didn't cover Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy like they're doing Herman Cain. So, some of this stuff could actually come back to help him.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center