The Los Angeles Times has aggressively covered the unproven sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain. When his wife Gloria granted an interview to Fox News to respond, Times reporter James Oliphant asked "Can Gloria Cain Pull a Hillary Clinton?" Oliphant didn't seem to consider that an insulting question -- since he never told the reader the obvious. Hillary Clinton helped her husband deny an affair with Gennifer Flowers in 1992 -- which he admitted in 1998. (The ultimate "pulling a Hillary" was that year's "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview on NBC.)
This kind of journalistic equivalence also fails when it comes to its place in the news cycle. In 1992, the TV networks waited for days until the Clintons could shovel their spin on "60 Minutes" before they covered (and dismissed) the allegations in just 14 stories, eight of them anchor briefs. By contrast, the networks had aired more than 100 stories breathlessly accusing Cain before his wife spoke out.
Almost 20 years ago, the wife of a presidential candidate appeared on a national news program to defend her husband against allegations of sexual impropriety. The candidate's campaign survived the allegations and he ultimately won his party's nomination and then the White House.
The woman, of course, was Hlllary Rodham Clinton — and her husband's campaign was teetering on the edge of collapse in the days before the New Hampshire primary in 1992. The interview on "60 Minutes," in which the couple pushed back against allegations that Bill Clinton was involved in a long-term affair with Gennifer Flowers, was credited with helping to rescue Clinton's campaign. He finished a closer-than-expected second in the New Hampshire primary and became the "Comeback Kid."
It's too early to know if Gloria Cain's interview Monday night on Fox News will have the effect of reviving her husband's presidential campaign, but she made an attempt at putting the sexual harassment allegations that have dogged Herman Cain to rest.
You can read wishful thinking into the choice of adjectives. Cain's campaign needs "reviving"? Like it's dead? Cain's polling numbers may not be soaring now, but they haven't collapsed. Media hopes have shifted from sinking Cain with sex allegations to Cain's halting answer to a reporter's Libya question.
Earlier: End the Hillary Whitewash
[HT: Gary Hall]