From THE FIX at The Washington Post:
Conservatives are not rushing to defend businessman Herman Cain in the wake of a press conference in which Sharon Bialek — with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred at her side — claimed that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO made an unwanted, physical sexual advance on her in 1997.
Many are pointing out that there are numerous verifiable details in Bialek’s story and are reserving judgment until more reporting comes out. Few seem willing to dismiss her story completely.
A few did dismiss the accusations out of hand. “She’s lying,” said Adam Baldwin, an actor and frequent contributor to Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism site. “Not a credible performance.”
“There’s nothing here,” said Sean Hannity on his radio show. “The lady didn’t even work for the company.”
Talk show host Laura Ingraham said Bialek’s frequent mentions of her boyfriend were “convenient” and that Allred’s jokes had a “racial overtone.”
But a larger number of conservative pundits appear to be giving Bialek the benefit of the doubt — for now.
“Some will conclude that anyone who hires Allred as a lawyer is after publicity, and is not to be trusted,” wrote National Review’s Jim Geraghty. “But that’s a non sequitur; a truthful person can hire Allred as easily as a liar.”
Hot Air’s Michelle Malkin voiced some skepticism about Bialek’s history. “So Bialek is single with a teenage child, with no discernible means of income, and employing a top Democrat hit woman celebrity attorney.” Malkin also suggested that Bialek’s mannerisms — “she giggled. She talked about her new hairdo” — made her less credible. But, Malkin ultimately concluded: “I need to know more.”
“While seeing Gloria Allred insert herself into another national scandal (her last client was a porn star) was disturbing, listening to Sharon Bialek’s story of how she was dealt with by Herman Cain was even more shocking,” said Penny Nance of conservative group Concerned Women for America. “Mr. Cain needs to address these new allegations head on.”
Breitbart’s Big Journalism site actually confirmed part of Bialek’s story — that she did attend Teacon 2011, a tea party event in Chicago where Cain spoke.
From Jennifer Rubin at Right Turn at The Washington Post:
There’s really no way to adequately describe how downright weird Herman Cain’s news conference was today. There was Cain referring to “Herman Cain,” a throwback to Bob Dole’s frequent use of self-referential third person. There was the part where he told us that there may be other allegations — but those will be false. Memorable, too, was his insistence that the claimants are all anonymous, when in fact two women have been identified by name. Then there was the ranting and raving about the media, although Sharon Bialek came forth with no media filter.
In a way, this was a fitting downfall: The slick ex-talk show host undone by his own rambling. He was no longer charming. He was desperate and entirely unbelievable. Forget the presidency. Forget becoming a conservative icon. Cain succeeded only in leaving the impression that he may be a bit off his rocker.
Who is to be believed: Cain or the women? Certainly Cain has managed to discredit himself as much, or more, than any of them have.
What about those bloggers and talk show hosts who went to the ramparts defending him and pushed the narrative that this was all a racist plot? One only hopes that readers and listeners will take their future utterances with a large helping of salt. These “genuine” conservatives who pretend to talk for an entire political movement, it seems, have rather poor judgment.
We should take Cain at his word that he’s not going to drop out of the race. But now it makes little difference. He’s been revealed as a crank and a bit of a fraud, a man masquerading as a polished professional.
Note: Jennifer Rubin is a conservative and a supporter of the Tea Party.