ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC Bring On Cain Accuser; CNN Targets Limbaugh
The same networks that ignored sexual allegations against Democrats for months all leaped on Tuesday to interview Sharon Bialek and her liberal advocate Gloria Allred on the morning after she came forward. Between them, ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC devoted over 21 minutes to Bialek, who accused GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of groping her over a decade ago. CNN had Bialek on for eight and a half minutes, and played up how Rush Limbaugh apparently said "not so nice things" about her [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
CBS's The Early Show gave the softest interview, failing to mention the accuser's past bankruptcies or Allred's liberal political leanings, something the other three at least mentioned. Anchor Jeff Glor asked Bialek if she would still vote for Cain if he became the GOP presidential nominee, only after her attorney, Gloria Allred, mentioned that her client was a registered Republican. None of the interviewers raised why Bialek had been fired by the National Restaurant Association before her meeting with Cain (correspondent Jan Crawford noted the firing in a setup piece on CBS).
Though CNN's Carol Costello did raise the two question CBS omitted, she bizarrely led her interview with Limbaugh's words about Bialek on Monday: "So Sharon, I'll start with you, because you said yesterday that you are ready for this media onslaught, and it has already begun. Rush Limbaugh on his program yesterday said some not so nice things about you. He mispronounced your name, and he made this not very attractive sound with his mouth, and I won't explain it to you because it's not really worth it. But how is that sort of thing feeling to you now?"
By contrast, ABC's Brian Ross noted how "the Cain campaign described Sharon Bialek as a person with a history of severe financial difficulties and questioned who was paying for her lawyer, Gloria Allred, who they said was a long-time contributor to Democratic Party causes." Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who once worked for former President Bill Clinton, who faced many of his own accusations of sexual misbehavior, wasted little time before asking his guests about that: "His [Cain's] campaign also put out a statement asking several questions of you. They say, was she paid to come forward with these false accusations? Was she promised employment?"
Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos directly raised the political donation issue with Allred: "As you know, Mr. Cain is also making you part of the story, saying you're a long-time Democratic activist." Allred claimed, "That dog won’t hunt," despite her political donations and long pedigree of feminist activism.
On NBC's Today several minutes later, anchor Ann Curry began the segment with Bialek's financial difficulties: "Let's address immediately this- your response to the Cain campaign calling you, quote, 'A woman with a long history of severe financial difficulties and personal bankruptcy.' You have filed for bankruptcy twice. Is your coming forward a part of any kind of financial motivation?"
Curry alone questioned her lawyer about her machinations against losing Republican candidate Meg Whitman last year in California: "Gloria, just before the California election for governor, you held a news conference with Republican Meg Whitman's fired housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant and she lost the election and you've also contributed thousands of dollars to Barack Obama and also to Hillary Clinton. So is this a politically motivated effort on your behalf, to represent Sharon?"
The MRC's Scott Whitlock pointed out on Tuesday that in just eight and a half days, the Big Three networks have devoted a staggering 99 stories to the sexual harassment allegations against Cain. By contrast, there were only a combined eight reports about former President Clinton's scandals with Paula Jones, Kathleen Wiley, and Juanita Broaddrick during the first eight days of those stories.
The transcripts of the interviews of Sharon Bialek and Gloria Allred on CBS's Early Show, NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and CNN's American Morning:
07:05 am EST
CBS's The Early Show
ERICA HILL: Joining us now, Sharon Bialek and her attorney, Gloria Allred. Good to have you both with us this morning.
SHARON BIALEK, HERMAN CAIN ACCUSER: Thank you.
HILL: Sharon, a lot of people are still wondering, why did you decide to come out now? What's in it for you?
[CBS News Graphic: "Cain Controversy: Accuser Speaks Out On Harassment Claims"]
BIALEK: Absolutely nothing- I have so much to lose, but really nothing to gain. It was a very tough decision for me to make, and I know I'm doing the right thing.
HILL: But again, why? Why did you decide now to come out to talk about it?
BIALEK: Well, because I wanted to be the voice and the face for those women that couldn't or wouldn't come forward. And those that know me know I'm pretty outspoken, and know that I fight for my convictions, and I really believe in this and I had to do something.
JEFF GLOR: Sharon, when you say [sic] Herman Cain last night say that there is not an ounce of truth in all of this, that it is completely fabricated, your reaction is what?
BIALEK: You know, I did this- I don't despise the man. I actually did it because I wanted to help him. I wanted to give him a platform to come clean, to tell the truth. And he still hasn't done it, and it's really a shame because he could have- he could have switched it. He could have, you know, come forward, and I was trying to be nice about it, too. And it just didn't work.
HILL: But we know he has said that he is going to come out and speak later today. Did you contact him at all before deciding to go forward with this press conference yesterday?
BIALEK: I did not.
HILL: Do you think that he may have had a different reaction, had you reached out to him privately, ahead of time?
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY OF HERMAN CAIN ACCUSER: I think the real question is, has he contacted her to say that- to admit to what he has done, and then also to apologize, if he thought that was appropriate to do. But no, he hasn't contacted her. And the real question is, also, should the public believe four women, none of whom appear to know each other, or one man who has a motive to deny everything? I think the public can make that choice.
HILL: And you point out you don't know each other. So you don't know these other women?
BIALEK: No. I haven't met them. I- no.
HILL: But Gloria, you have been in contact with at least one attorney. Is that correct?
HILL: You have not-
ALLRED: I'm not sure what you mean- which- what attorney?
HILL: With one attorney- with the attorney of one of the other women who-
ALLRED: No, I have not, and- but I know the other women have, reportedly, alleged sexual harassment. Two of them received settlements after they alleged sexual harassment against Herman Cain. So I think Herman Cain now has the burden of answering certain questions. Does he admit that he met Sharon? Does he admit that he went to dinner with her? Does he admit that he was in the car with her? Does he admit that he put his hand, as she allegations, under her skirt and groped her genitals. These are the kinds of questions he needs to answer, not a flat denial. He's never sexually harassed any woman. What are the specifics of what he's done?
GLOR: Well, I think, Sharon, when Herman Cain saw you a month ago, he acknowledged that he remembered you-
BIALEK: Absolutely, he did-
GLOR: But then, it just ended very quickly- the interaction, at least, there-
BIALEK: Yes, because he was being ushered on stage, and, reflecting back and even on that day, I noticed that he was uncomfortable with- you know, I think he thought about it and became uncomfortable.
GLOR: Had you heard any other stories before that night 14 years ago or then after?
BIALEK: No, no. In fact, as I was sitting in the audience after I had, you know, reintroduced myself to him, I began to think- gosh, you know, he's running for president. I really hope this was the only time he's done something like this, for his sake. And so, no, I did not know of anyone else. I thought maybe it was a moment in time, but obviously, not.
HILL: And you had never heard of anything else in your time with the National Restaurant Association?
BIALEK: No, I hadn't. I had not
ALLRED: And I think it's important to know that she is a registered Republican-
GLOR: Right- yeah-
ALLRED: And she's not endorsed another candidate and she's not made contributions to any candidate. And, a matter of fact, you know, her only motive is to tell the truth, and give a voice and help to empower women.
GLOR: Well, Sharon, let me ask you that. If- because of the way you've voted before, and you say you're a Republican-
GLOR: If he comes clean, in your mind, could you see yourself voting for him?
BIALEK: I think first you need to admit that you've done wrong-
BIALEK: Because you can't say you're sorry until- you've done wrong. So that's a loaded question and I-
GLOR: If he did that, would you vote for him?
BIALEK: I'd have to think about that. So I hope that he does, and I'd have to think about that one.
HILL: Appreciate you both coming in this morning.
BIALEK: Thank you.
07:09 am EST
ABC's Good Morning America
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by Sharon Bialek and her lawyer Gloria Allred. Thank you both for coming in this morning. Well, you just saw Mr. Cain. He says there's not an ounce of truth to the accusations. Totally fabricated. Then he joked about it.
SHARON BIALEK: I don't think there's anything funny about this subject. And for him to do that is just deplorable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He's saying flat-out, you're a liar.
BIALEK: I'm not a liar. And everyone that knows me, know I speak the truth and that's why I came here, because I wouldn't do something I don't feel so strongly about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as you know, there's questions why you're coming forward now. And his campaign also put out a statement asking several questions of you. They say, was she paid to come forward with these false accusations? Was she promised employment?
BIALEK: I was not paid to come forward. Nor was I promised any employment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nothing at all?
BIALEK: Nothing at all. I'm just doing this because it's the right thing to do, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They also, Gloria, want to know how you two came to be introduced and who is paying Ms. Bialek's fees.
GLORIA ALLRED: Well, she can answer that.
BIALEK: Sure. I called Gloria and I said I need some help. I want to go forward with my story, but I can't do it alone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you can't afford to pay her fees.
BIALEK: No, I can't. And I told her up front. And, so, we're doing this pro bono.
ALLRED: Meaning for the public good, without charge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one other question on that. Mr. Joel Bennett, who is the attorney for one of the other women who has accused Mr. Cain said that a woman from Chicago named Sharon called him. Are you the same woman that he's talking about there?
ALLRED: Well, we're not going to answer who she calls.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you can't say?
BIALEK: I can't say.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Um, why not?
ALLRED: Well, because that's not the issue. The issue is Herman Cain. And this – she is now the fourth woman who has accused him of sexual harassment. And if it's true, he's a serial sexual harasser. And, so, I think the public's going to look at what these four women have had to say and the two settlements for sexual harassment against the denial of one man who has a motive to deny. And they'll make their own decisions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Mr. Cain is also making you part of the story, saying you're a long-time Democratic activist.
ALLRED: Well, that dog won't hunt, to use a cliche. Because, just recently, I held a news conference in New York, against Congressman Anthony Weiner and my client said that he should resign. And, so, I have criticized Democratic men. I have criticized Republican men. I have criticized men who have no party who have sexually harassed women. Sexual harassment is not a laughing matter. And Mr. Cain is adding insult to injury to try to make this a joke. That's disgusting.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You clearly seem offended by what he did many, many years ago– what you accuse- allege him of doing many years ago. Why didn't you take any action then?
BIALEK: Well, there's a couple reasons. Number one, I was embarrassed, as many women are are in these situations. And I wanted it to go away. Number two, I wasn't employed with the educational foundation of the National Restaurant Association. So, I didn't believe at the time there was any recourse. The most thing I did was discuss it with two, close confidants. So, I could, kind of, get it off my chest.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a registered Republican?
BIALEK: I am, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you had any contact with any of the other Republican campaigns?
BIALEK: None at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: None at all?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you did see Mr. Cain earlier this year at a Tea Party conference?
BIALEK: Yes. In Chicago, I was invited to the convention. And unbeknownst to me, I found out that Herman would be speaking there. And- It was kind of surprising after all of these years and I kind of wanted to face the demon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what happened?
BIALEK: I shook his hand. He did remember me. And he looked a little uncomfortable. And he had to go on stage. He was whisked away. That was that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Gloria, have you been contacted by any other women prepared to make allegations against Mr. Cain?
ALLRED: Not at this time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not at this time. And finally, we're going to have a press conference from Mr. Cain later today. What do you want to hear from him? What do you expect to hear from him?
BIALEK: What I would really like, is it's not too late. He can step forward and end this. Just end it. Just end it. I don't want to be here. I don't think anyone wants to. Just end it. Let's move forward. But- unfortunately, I don't think that's what's going to happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: End it by?
BIALEK: End it by saying I did these things. I did some inappropriate things. It was a long time ago. I apologize. You know, I don't know if he's reformed. He's a very religion man, spiritual. But just move forward. Let's get past this. Let's get to the real issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, is Herman Cain fit to be president?
BIALEK: Not until he tells the truth.
07:13 am EST
ANN CURRY: Well, Sharon Bialek is now with us, along with her attorney, Gloria Allred. Good morning to both of you.
GLORIA ALLRED: Good morning, Ann.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cain Controversy; Woman Speaks Out on Claim She Was Sexually Harassed]
CURRY: Lots to get to. First, let's address immediately this – your response to the Cain campaign calling you, quote, "A woman with a long history of severe financial difficulties and personal bankruptcy." You have filed for bankruptcy twice. Is your coming forward a part of any kind of financial motivation?
SHARON BIALEK: Absolutely not. And you know what? I had spoken to Gloria about this before. There's no – there were no skeletons in my closet. I told her that this may come up and I expected this. This is what happens. It's not about me. I'm not the one running for president. Well, did – on that point-
ALLRED: But it's also important to know that she could have sold her story. She, like millions of Americans, has financial difficulty, she's up front about that.
CURRY: Point taken.
ALLRED: She didn't though, because she wants to just tell the truth.
CURRY: Did anyone with the other campaigns encourage you to speak out?
BIALEK: No, absolutely not. I came of my own volition.
CURRY: Then why, after an event you say happened 14 years ago, are you only coming forward now?
BIALEK: There's a variety of reasons. Number one, Ann, when this happened, the first reaction is you're embarrassed. Number two, I had a boyfriend at the time, we did discuss it briefly, although I didn't share the details with him and he said it's going to be one of those he said/she said things. And you've got to remember, this was the late '90s, so we still weren't – unfortunately, we're still not where we should be in these types of cases, so for those reasons.
CURRY: You're absolutely sure that he used the words, "You want a job, right?" Those were his exact words?
CURRY: Well, the Cain campaign, as you know, has since disputed this, saying in a statement, quote, "All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone." What is your reaction to that?
BIALEK: I think maybe Mr. Cain's definition of harassment might be different. Maybe he doesn't feel he harassed them.
CURRY: Well, Gloria, does this actually technically qualify as harassment? You know, Sharon no longer worked for the National Restaurant Association?
ALLRED: Well, she may have had rights nonetheless because she was seeking his help getting a job. But the real question, Ann, is, you know, should the public believe the word of four different women, two of whom have filed claims of sexual harassment and received settlements for them, or the word of one man who has a motive to deny?
CURRY: Well, here's another question being raised by the Right. The question, as you just heard in Kelly [O'Donnell's] report, that this is a part of partisan politics. That you, Gloria, just before the California election for governor, you held a news conference with Republican Meg Whitman's fired housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant and she lost the election and you've also contributed thousands of dollars to Barack Obama and also to Hillary Clinton. So is this a politically motivated effort on your behalf, to represent Sharon?
ALLRED: Absolutely not. Because the last big news conference I did in New York was against Congressman – Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. And my client said that he should resign, that he had sent her sexual messages and that was one of the reasons that she thought he should resign. I've also criticized President Clinton, when he lied to the American public. So if a man commits an injustice against a woman, sexual harassment – which by the way, is no joke although apparently Herman Cain wants to make it a laughing matter – then I am going to speak out against them if they're Democrat, Republican, libertarian, or no party at all.
CAIN: Alright, Gloria Allred and Sharon Bialek, thank you so much.
BIALEK: Thank you, Ann.
CURRY: I know this is not the last we're going to hear about this, so we'll see how this proceeds.
07:49 am EST
CNN's American Morning
CAROL COSTELLO: Joining us this morning in our New York studios, Sharon Bialek, who said Herman Cain groped her when she went to him for help finding a job 14 years ago. And her attorney joins us, too, Gloria Allred. Welcome to you both.
SHARON BIALEK: Thank you.
GLORIA ALLRED: Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: So Sharon, I'll start with you, because you said yesterday that you are ready for this media onslaught, and it has already begun. Rush Limbaugh on his program yesterday said some not so nice things about you. He mispronounced your name, and he made this not very attractive sound with his mouth, and I won't explain it to you because it's not really worth it. But how is that sort of thing feeling to you now?
BIALEK: I expected it, and I still knew I had to come forward. My biggest concern and my biggest fan is my son. And actually, the night before I was about to do this I called him- he was with his dad- and I said, Nick, what do you think I should do? He knew about this. He had heard me speaking to Gloria, and I said, what do you think I should do? He's 13- he said, mom, you need to do right thing. I think you need to tell on him. So that confirmed it for me. If my son is saying it, I want to be the role model for him and other kids growing up and set the example that this is not appropriate behavior. It starts when it is about their age.
COSTELLO: There are a lot of supporters of Herman Cain saying that you're not telling the truth, that you're coming forward for a, financial reasons because you have bankruptcy in your past. So have you? Are you coming forward for the money?
BIALEK: Let me set the record straight. I have had bankruptcy, and it was after the death of my mother to help my father pay for medical bills and a custody battle. And, like millions of other people out there, you know, I'm struggling. And I could have actually sold my story, but I didn't, because I want to- my whole objective is to tell the truth and also help other people out there who may have been in similar situations. And initially I went into this hoping every hope of hopes that Herman would just step forward. That was my actually primary goal. Just admit it, step forward, admit it, and move forward.
COSTELLO: A lot of people are wondering why you chose Gloria as your attorney.
BIALEK: Well, one of the people who will vouch for me said Gloria's the best and you have to go to her and she will walk you through this, and she has. I couldn't have done this without her. And, you know, we support different parties. I'm a Republican and, so, I think that right there, if anyone says what Gloria is doing this for just totally, that theory is-
COSTELLO: We'll pose that question to you, Gloria, because Cain supporters say you're a celebrity attorney who represents all sorts of women to make men look bad. They say that you've donated thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign and this is your opportunity to make Herman Cain look bad.
ALLRED: Well, actually, Carol, I've been a women right's attorney for 36 years. We have won hundreds of millions dollars for women, who have- the majority of whom have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual abuse by men. And we're proud of our record of standing up for women, empowering women, and supporting women, and that's what we do in our law firm.
Having said that, let me say that I speak out in support of my clients and in support of women whether those men are Republican, Democrat, libertarian, or no party at all. I criticized Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner recently in New York with another client who said he should resign, and he did the next day because he had engaged in inappropriate text messaging with her. And I criticized President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky issue when he lied to the American people and lied under oath, and he was a Democrat and I was a Democrat. In fact, I was an elected Hillary delegate to the Democratic convention. So it doesn't matter the party of the man.
And, of course, all of that is to deflect Mr. Cain- it's a deflection by him because he doesn't want to deal with the sexual harassment issue. He needs to admit in specific detail what he has done. Who are we to believe, these four women who have independently alleged sexual harassment, two of whom who have filed allegations of sexual harassment and entered into settlements with their employer, the National Restaurant Association. These four women, and I know she doesn't know any of them, neither do I, or the one man, Herman Cain, who has the motive to deny because he wants to be president of the United States. I think the public can make that decision.
COSTELLO: One more question just about money issues. Like how are you paying? A lot of people are wondering, how you are paying, Ms. Allred?
BIALEK: I was very up front and said I couldn't afford this, so I don't know what we can do. And she said, Sharon, I would be glad to take your case pro bono, and that means she would do it out of her courtesy.
ALLRED: Pro bono is for the public good, and we as attorneys have a duty to help where we can and do cases pro bono without charge if that's possible.
COSTELLO: You know that Herman Cain appeared on a late night show- with a comedian.
BIALEK: I saw it.
COSTELLO: You saw it, you watched it. So we'll allow our audience to watch it and then we'll discuss on the other side.
HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They could see steam coming out of my ears. And the feelings that you have when you know that all of this is totally fabricated, you go from anger, then you go – you get disgusted. You try to control yourself to make sure you watch this thing all the way through. And I was listening very closely, and then when it was all over with I said, I know what we got to do, because there's not an ounce of truth in all these accusations, and my team is putting this stuff together. That's why I'm willing to do a press conference tomorrow to set the record straight.
COSTELLO: So, Sharon, essentially Mr. Cain is calling you a liar.
BIALEK: You know, it's funny. For the very first part of what he said, anger, frustration- that's exactly how I feel. Scratch the end, though, because, you know what I want to say to Herman is, if not for yourself, okay, to come forward and admit this- what is his wife going through? You know, that's who I feel for the most in this whole thing.
COSTELLO: He mentioned his wife. He said his wife doesn't believe you either and she's supportive of him.
BIALEK: Well, I hope that's the case, but I have to believe she's going through her own personal turmoil. If not for himself, for the women that he's done this to, just for Gloria, that's his wife, too, so he should.
COSTELLO: And just a final thought about, you know, a lot of people say, oh, you didn't file any charges, you did tell two people, your former boyfriend also your mentor. I know that you have sworn affidavits from them. But you didn't file any official charges anywhere and you didn't really talk about it in the interim much, and many people wondering, why not? If you felt so strongly about this, why not- why didn't you come out about this before?
BIALEK: Well, a couple reasons. One is that, you know, the statute, before initially I didn't come out because I was embarrassed. I mean, who wants to talk about kind of ironing these things out in public? I was embarrassed. And second of all, I wasn't employed by the restaurant association so I didn't know that I had any kind of recourse from that.
COSTELLO: And all those years ago, was it easy to talk about sexual harassment?
BIALEK: No, that's the other thing, too, and it's a shame, too, because here we are today, you know, going through, having the same difficulties and it's amazing that we, as women, still are fighting these things and are embarrassed to talk about these things as we were back then.
ALLRED: That's why I'm so proud of Sharon, that she's come forward and willing to speak out and suffer the unwarranted attacks against her. She's a real hero, and I hope she does inspire other women to have the courage to speak out against sexual harassment.
I would say to Herman Cain, sexual harassment is not a joke. So for you go on late-night television and make jokes about it, it's not funny. It interferes with women's right to equal employment opportunity. If you were elected president you would be the head of the largest employment task force in the country, several government employees. So stop making jokes. Women have a right to be free of sexual harassment, and that is why Sharon is standing up to fight back.