CHICAGO November 8, 2011 – There are two sides to every story; whether you believe one side or the other often depends on which side you stand. In Chicago, it may be the red or the blue side, more than the true or untrue side.
Such is the case with the political sexual harassment melodrama involving GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain and his first public accuser, Sharon Bialek.
With full disclosure, I report that I knew Sharon Bialek. In 2007, she was handling new business development at CBS-owned WCKG-FM in Chicago while I was producing a TV series that aired on WFLD-TV (FOX). We both had some sponsorship inventory to sell and met over many months to discuss ways we could develop advertising packages together.
She struck me as hard working, professional, and disinterested in politics. She was nice. But, being from Chicago – well she is actually in far northern suburb, Mundelein – stories from the dual-sided city cannot always be taken for their face value.
Since her first press conference Monday in New York, with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred standing to her side, theories on Bialek have been swirling in conservative circles: Was she paid to come forward about Herman Cain? Was she promised a job? Why is Gloria Allred, a Democrat political operative, involved and what is she getting out of it?
“I was not paid to come forward, nor was I promised any employment. Nothing at all,” Bialek said on Good Morning America Tuesday morning. “I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
But Bialek’s remarks have not stopped the rumor mill from grinding. CBS Channel 2 Chicago reporter Dana Kozlov presented a pile of legal documents filed against Bialek, including dual bankruptcies, liens against her property from service providers and the IRS, a paternity lawsuit and five civil law suits, in her report on what be a motivating force behind Bialek’s actions.
While her fiancée vehemently denies she would do such a thing for money.
Yet another side of the Bialek-Cain story to consider. But wait, there is more.
According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, a witness saw Bialek embrace Cain “backstage” at TEACON, a recent Tea Party convention in October. “She grabbed his [Cain’s] arm and whispered in his left ear,” said Amy Jacobson, a co-host at Salem Broadcasting-owned AM 560 WIND. “She kept talking as he bent to listen, and he kept saying ‘“Uh, huh. Uh, huh.’”
Chicago’s Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times reports that Jacobsen described it as “They hugged each other backstage in a full embrace like old friends…”
So we have side one of the encounter, and embellished side two and then we have Bialek telling of her interaction with Cain at Teacon.
“I didn’t actually know he would be there [at the Tea Party event] but the night before, when my girlfriend told me, I went up to him and asked him: “Do you remember me?”…I guess I wanted to see if he was going to be man enough to own up to what he had done some 14 years ago,” said Bialek about the encounter.
However Cain’s participation of the Schaumberg, Illinois event was widely publicized. One must believe that she would be aware that the Presidential candidate would be there.
But then maybe it was not as Amy Jacobson claims, as she has a credibility gap of her own. In 2007, she was fired from NBC after she was videotaped frolicking in her bikini with her two young kids at the home of Craig Stebic, whose estranged wife has been missing now for four years.
This was cause for her termination because Jacobson, the reporter, was supposed to be investigating Stebic as a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance. Apparently, the lush backyard pool beckoned and with bikini and kids, she jumped in feet first.
Later, Jacobson admitted it was a “lapse in judgment.”
The Jacobson eventually had a conservative “conversion” and landed the co-host position on the 5,000 watt local station, one of 95 owned by Salem Communications and ranking 36th in the market according to October Arbitron rating, says the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick.
Although some organizers of the TEACON event are corroborating Jacobson’s account of Bialek and Cain’s most recent interaction, we must look at the other side of that story where TEACON has its own dark cloud hanging over it.
Arrested in 2009 for solicitation, avowed family man Steve Stevlic, the main organizer of TEACON and, at the time of Teacon in October 2011, the head of the Chicago Tea Party Patriots, was forced to resign when it was reported that he had been arrested for soliciting a prostitute.
Charges were dropped when he agreed to enter a treatment program for “johns.” With defenders like these, who needs enemies? Certainly not Herman Cain.
So what is the truth? And, with all the mudslinging, can it ever be determined?
Charges of sexual harassment are an easy weapon to aim at a conservative political candidate. It is a “he-said, she-said” smorgasbord of un-provable accusations. In the end, it all comes down to credibility.
To win, each side of the political aisle must chip away at the other side’s credibility. And credibility is key.
To date, the allegations of sexual harassment against Cain have only served to embolden the GOP electorate, which views the national media with suspicion and disdain. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll continues to show Cain in a virtual tie with former Gov. Mitt Romney at 21%.
“What we don’t want to have happen is for an innocent man and a great candidate to be destroyed just because the liberal media want to re-elect President Obama,” said one Cain supporter from Chicago, who wished to remain unnamed. “There is a double standard for conservatives.”
Is there a double standard?
In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying under oath and concealing his sexual relationship with a then twenty-two year-old White House intern. Clinton’s Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. He was fined $90,000 for contempt of court for his unwillingness to testify truthfully in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
He eventually settled with Jones in the amount of $850,000. Today, twelve years after his impeachment, Clinton is viewed favorably by a majority of Americans.
But Clinton is not the only one.
In 1998, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) had a tryst with a male prostitute named Frank Gobie. He hired Gobie, who lived with Frank, to run errands. It was eventually discovered that Gobie was still working as a prostitute and was using Frank’s home as a brothel. Frank was reprimanded for using House privilege to waive 33 of Gobie’s parking tickets and for attempting to end Gobie’s probation for a criminal infraction.
Given the media cover granted to key Democrats, ranging from Rep. Charles Rangel and his ethics violations to President Obama and Solyndra, Republicans are reluctant to abandon their candidates - no matter what the media reports. Or what Sharon Bialek says.
And who can blame them?
Read more coverage from the Communities @WashingtonTimes.com on the Cain/Bialek story:
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