All Accusers Are Not (Treated as) Equal

Does the name Gennifer Flowers ring a bell?

When Flowers came forward to describe her long-running sexual relationship with Bill Clinton, the mainstream media was quick to doubt her, ridicule her and attack her. Gloria Always-Ready-for-a-Camera did not rush to her side. Nor to the side of Kathleen Willey, who accused Bubba of outright sexual harassment. She, too, was brushed off as a hysterical fictionalizer or a political operative.

It so happens I personally talked with Flowers, in connection with marketing of her book. I found her credible. The media didn't. The fact that she had tape recordings and that her house was burgled in an apparent search for them, was treated as unimportant. Had Monica not kept that infamous dress, I imagine she, too, would have been disregarded entirely.

The media's response to Ms. Flowers and to Herman Cain's first accuser willing to identify herself is as far apart as the pitiful Cleveland Browns and the game of professional football. Cain's accuser was embraced as heroic and - obviously - entirely genuine. Clinton's accusers were mocked and regarded - obviously - as liars.

In its heyday, the joke was that the signal of a very bad day to come was the 60 Minutes crew at your doorstep. These days, it's the appearance of Gloria, mysterious defender of aggrieved women, notably including the collection of porn stars, 'models,' pancake house waitresses and gold-diggers lined up in the Tiger Woods parade. One wonders how Ms. Always-Ready-for-a-Camera gets paid and by whom.

If the accusations against Cain wind up holding water, and he is unable or unwilling to credibly refute them, he is inarguably unfit to be president, and will presumably toddle off to rehab, the Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew show, or - better - oblivion. He can join Rep. Weiner, John Edwards and others in exile for similar reasons. His exit stage right could occur at any moment, as his situation is day to day if not hour to hour. There is no defense for the alleged behavior, nor should it be ignored - as it was, most stubbornly, with Bill Clinton.

If Cain is the victim here, we should all hope he is somehow able to set free the truth. Proving what you did not do behind closed doors is difficult at best, and un-ringing a bell that has been loudly and repeatedly rung as nearly impossible as intended, but should he be in the right, somehow we can hope he triumphs. If he is guilty, we can hope he 'fesses up and drops out quickly.

My point has nothing to do with the reality of Cain's past, whatever it turns out to be, or the veracity of his accuser or accusers, or whatever secret machinations and financing by political enemies may lie behind it all. I am simply pointing out the remarkable willingness of the media to blatantly display its hypocrisy.

Bill Maher has often insisted that the Clinton abuse of Monica was, after all, just a harmless oral sex episode. I'm sure he will not insist this just a clumsy attempt at seduction and harmless, quick grope. Those who were quick to embrace Cain's accuser with Gloria at her hip will not retrieve their coverage of Gennifer Flowers and show it to expose their own embarrassing inconsistency.

It seems every institution disappoints these days. Congress despised by an overwhelming majority of Americans, with good reason. The president stonewalling against multiple scandals, any one of which is bigger than the small-time burglary that toppled Nixon; advancing a socialist-like agenda and piling up debt at an all-time record pace, damaging the nation as no president before him. There's Penn State. And of course, there's the media, failing miserably at honest and investigative journalism, as partisan and hypocritical as politicians at their worst. I

It's not a pleasant sight. And anyone who would celebrate Cain's troubles misses the point: his mess is merely one more piece of flotsam in a grimy sea of tragedy and moral and ethical bankruptcy and scandal and media pollution that is overwhelming most Americans. Our reaction to all of the politicians, to all of the pundits, to all of the news, to all of it is - really, is this the best we can do?