Keller @ Large: Difference Between Fact And Smear

BOSTON (CBS) – Perhaps by the time you hear this, the women who were reportedly upset by behavior on the part of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain that they believed amounted to sexual harassment will have come forward.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Or other witnesses to the alleged behavior will speak up.

Or some form of documentation – perhaps a copy of the settlements they allegedly signed with Cain’s former employer – will be produced.

If and when that happens, then the allegations against Cain will move out of the realm of gutter rumor and become a story worth taking seriously.

After all, sexual harassment is no joke.

Women and men should be able to go to work without being subjected to inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances or innuendo from co-workers, or, especially, from their bosses.

And if someone of Cain’s stature engaged in that behavior, more than once and to an egregious extent (not just some one-time misunderstood joke), then his fitness to be the Republican nominee for president is – or at least, ought to be – in serious doubt.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s presume that none of that substantiation emerges, and the story vanishes into the annals of political smears that couldn’t stand up to fresh air and sunshine.

Then, the story becomes the news outlets who ran with trash without proper disclaimers and context.

In our online universe, anyone can have their reputation smeared anonymously, and if you think there’s anyone editing most of that stuff, you’re sadly mistaken.

So it falls to every one of us to understand the difference between fact and smear, evidence and innuendo, and accept or reject alleged news we see or hear accordingly.

Why go to all that trouble?

Because the next mud that gets unfairly thrown could be at you.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • tsal

    Great piece Jon and IMHO Cain should do everything he can to bring all facts to light. He should not be tried in the media. To me, it’s his double talking that is hurting him. He did the same when it was pointed out that his 9-9-9 added 9% to states that already had a sales tax. He dodged that fact as if it didn’t exist (e.g. his apples and oranges comment). He seems to have tunnel vision in that he sees what he wants to see and if there is a bump in the road or something comes at him that doesn’t fit his agenda, he simply double talks and ignores it.

    In that regard how he handles this is very telling. At the moment he seems to have decided how to handle it by turning the tables on Perry to take the heat off of him. Another bad choice in my opinion.

    • Willow

      tsal, you are absolutely correct. This man needs to think before he speaks, or don’t speak at all.

  • FireGuyFrank

    I agree with what Jon and tsal write above. Here’s the problem I have with this “story” that seems to be ignored. There is a NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT that has been violated!

    Neither the alleged victims nor the alleged perpetrator were to ever discuss this. Yet somehow, the agreement was supposedly seen by a reporter for Politico. If one of the women revealed this to Politico, then she violated a CONTRACT. If someone in the Court System revealed this agreement, then he or she really violated their duty.

    People need to ask the questions: Why was this released; and who benefits (or is hurt) the most? I think we know the answer.

    • tsal

      I thought the same thing. And if the reports are correct – Cain isn’t supposed to mention it either and he has made comments that were not flattering about the women. I do think that the need is there to not jump to judgement. I am, however, upset with Cain’s finger pointing to Perry. I absolutely detest Perry but have little use for someone who tries to implicate another to take the heat off of himself. He’s accused Perry without proof – bad move.

    • tsal

      I was thinking about your comment Frank and agree with it. Question – If Cain were properly vetted would something like this show up? I’m trying to decide if he should have said something about having signed non-disclosure agreements in the past or perhaps even that isn’t permitted within the agreement. I always ere on the side of caution and like to be forthright but perhaps he could not.

      • FireGuyFrank

        tsal, anyone who wishes to run for public office, or do anything that will place them in a fishbowl, has to ask him/herself, “What have I done or said in the past that could haunt me?”

        Once that list is put together — preferable a very short list — the person needs to be forthright IF it comes out.

        Case in point, basketball coach Rick Pitino was caught in an affair. Pitino faced the media, admitted it, apologized. Has anyone mentioned it since? Nope. It goes against human nature to raise one’s hand and admit an error. But it is the fastest way past it.

      • tsal

        Frank – exactly.

  • fred

    I would love to see some consistency with the media. Contrast this story about Cain to the “non” reporting of the John Edwards story by the MSM. Those allegations later turned out to be true and were never reported (except by the National Enquirer) until well after he was out of the race. The MSM reported a story in December 2007 that has never been proven to be true regarding John McCain and someone in his campaign that looked like a younger version of his wife – supposidly there was an affair. Somehow the New Yprk Times was compelled to report that story. This is why i do not take any reporting of any story like this too seriously until the spin cycle is over. Cain should just open up (if he legally can) and get it over with. If what has been said is true this doesn’t even come close to the “Clinton” standard of sexual harrasment that’s been established by the media.

    • tsal

      It isn’t about Edwards or anyone else. It is about Cain – period – and making it about someone else is simply an attempt to get the focus off of Cain.

      At this point it isn’t so much about what is being alleged as how Cain handles it. IMHO it will be as telling about him as a candidate as anything else he does.

  • mikey

    Character assassination – the weapon of choice by some politicians and political forces to destroy the opposition. The coming election isn’t about democracy, it’s a power and money grab.

    • tsal

      Good morning, mikey!! Please explain that word you used…………..democracy????

      • mikey

        In short tsal, power and influence are the spoils which will be awarded to the next president elected. I shutter to think about the campaign ads which will probably run 24/7 trying to brainwash John Q. Public that are in our future with respect to the 2012 elections. The goal is to win and that’s it.

    • roudydowdy

      If it’s character assassination then someone other than the alleged victims must be behind it. Maybe a fellow Republican candidate or even the Democrats. But it also may be inconvenient truths coming back to bight him. We’ll find out soon enough. I think it is going to be Mitt Romney against Barak Obama next fall.

      • mikey

        I think you’re right!

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