The unrelenting network coverage of the Herman Cain sexual harassment story continued on Thursday and Friday with an additional 13 stories. That brings the total number of reports to a staggering 63 stories in just four and a half days.
Good Morning America offered up three stories on Friday, including a Brian Ross report tinged with anonymous allegations and rumor-mongering. Ross speculated, "Former employees tell ABC News, Cain was a regular on Washington's after-work bar scene, often with young women who worked with him at the restaurant association." Ross hinted, "Some say it was just Cain being personable and gregarious."
The ABC reporter also talked to Ricki Seidman, who he simply identified as a "political operative." Ross left out the fact that Seidman has worked for Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis and other Democrats.
Of Cain's accusers, who are anonymous, the political operative sympathized, "They've been called by all kinds of names already by people who have no idea who they are." (Ross did explain that Seidman worked with Anita Hill when she testified against Clarence Thomas.)
On NBC's Today, guest news anchor Tamron Hall compared the scandal to the 1991 Thomas hearings, misrepresenting what the now-Supreme Court judge was accused of. She suggested Cain has compared "himself to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose confirmation was held up by a sexual assault allegation."
Thomas was not accused of sexual assault. He was accused of harassment. On Wednesday, CBS's Betty Nguyen made a similarly incorrect statement. Of Herman Cain, she erroneously claimed, "One of two women who accuse Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual assault wants to speak out."
No one has accused him of sexual assault.
Today host Ann Curry predicted bad things in store for Cain: "And as we both know, Herman Cain's been working pretty hard trying to steer the focus away from these sexual harassment allegations that have been dogging his campaign but, boy, it could get a lot worse before it gets better."
Reporter Lisa Myers did allow, "In the eyes of many conservatives, Cain, like Thomas, is a victim of the media." Today had a total of four stories.
On CBS's Early Show, Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer appeared to proclaim the Cain campaign is in "real trouble."
Early Show correspondent Jan Crawford explained, "And this morning, a pro-Cain political action committee is running a new Web ad attacking the left and the media, saying the controversy is motivated by race." Early Show offered three reports.
On Thurday's evening newscasts, all three programs offered one full report each. World News' Jon Karl observed, "Despite the confusing and conflicting accounts offered by Cain this week, his campaign has been raking in cash, claiming to raise $1.2 million since the story broke last Sunday
A transcript of the Brian Ross GMA segment, which aired on November 4, can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Under pressure. New twists in the growing Herman Cain scandal. Did he invite a young woman back to his apartment. Is one of his accusers about to speak out? Cain fights back this morning. And our new poll shows he's holding strong so far.
ROBIN ROBERTS: But now, George, we're going to move on to those fast-moving developments surrounding Republican front-runner Herman Cain this morning. There are new details surfacing about his alleged advances on women who worked for him at the National Restaurant Association. And one woman could be ready to tell her side of the story as early as today. Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, is in D.C. and has the latest on all this. Good morning, Brian.
BRIAN ROSS: Well, Good morning, Robin. Later today, we may get the first word from one of the women who made sexual harassment allegations against Cain and agreed to remain silent about it in return for a cash settlement, a reported $45,000. Now, she wants to issue a written statement to dispute with what Cain has said, his strong denial about the allegations during his tenure at the national restaurant association. Former employees tell ABC News, Cain was a regular on Washington's after-work bar scene, often with young women who worked with him at the restaurant association. Some say it was just Cain being personable and gregarious. But Thursday, Cain was pressed about new accounts. That he asked one female employee to return to his corporate apartment with him.
SEAN HANNITY: Do you even have a corporate apartment?
HERMAN CAIN: I had an apartment near the airport because I travel so much. That's true. Sean, this is absolutely fabrication, man.
ROSS: And Cain told Sean Hannity, he never even made flattering remarks to the woman.
CAIN: I didn't make those kinds of compliments. I didn't say that she looked hot or whatever, this sort of thing. I know I didn't do that kind of stuff.
ROSS: As ABC News has reported, two of the women who received settlements from the restaurant association are well-known in government circles. One, in her 50s, now, married and a spokesperson for a federal agency in Washington. The other, now in her 40s, single. Registered as a lobbyist in New Jersey. Both are said to fear the consequences of going public.
RICKI SEIDMAN (former Senate investigator): There's good reason for them to be afraid.
ROSS: Ricki Seidman is a political operative who persuaded Anita Hill to go public during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. She sees parallels with how the women who accused Cain are now being treated.
SEIDMAN: They've been called by all kinds of names already by people who have no idea who they are.
ROSS: That's just par for the course?
SEIDMAN: In a political campaign? You bet ya.
ROSS: And the Cain campaign is already trying to turn the tables with a new commercial that paints the allegations as fabrications from rivals and the liberal media, with pointed comparisons to Clarence Thomas.
CLARENCE THOMAS: This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. It is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.
ROSS: In another part of their defense by going on the offense, Cain's new team of crisis managers say, they are including all of the options including possible lawsuits against Politico, who first reported the story, and others who are following up on it now, George.