The Wrong Kraushaar

Herman Cain's campaign manager baselessly claimed this reporter is the son of the candidate's accuser -- and works at Politico. Neither are true.

Karen Kraushaar - AP - banner.jpg

When I first heard that one of Herman Cain's accusers had the same last name as me, I immediately recognized there was a possibility I could get sucked into the media firestorm. After all, Kraushaar isn't the most common surname -- and I worked for Politico for several years. It wouldn't take much for some to wonder if there was a connection.

But I never expected a presidential campaign spokesman to go on national television, without even contacting me, and falsely implicate me in the whole sordid scandal. Yesterday I'd received e-mails from dozens of reporters, friends and colleagues asking if I was related to Karen Kraushaar -- and I promptly told them that wasn't the case. I wasn't contacted at all by Cain's chief of staff Mark Block, or anyone else from Cain's campaign. Despite that, Block proceeded to go on Sean Hannity's Fox News show to proclaim that I was Karen Kraushaar's son and to suggest I was one of the people who leaked the story.

Anybody with Internet access would, at the very least, been able to figure out that I haven't worked for Politico since June 2010 -- and have been working at National Journal since then. I even Tweeted the fact that I wasn't related to Karen Kraushaar earlier that evening before Hannity's show to clear up any potential confusion.

That didn't stop Block. When I heard what Block had said on Hannity's show, I immediately e-mailed him informing him of his mistake. I still haven't heard back, though Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon is now correcting the record - over 12 hours later. That's an eternity in the 24-7 news cycle, when most media outlets (conservative, liberal, and non-partisan alike) already had reported the facts.

After spending my career covering politics as a reporter and editor, I've always thought that one of the most important skills for the beat is to have a good BS detector. Reporters are constantly inundated with self-serving spin, and it's vital to have a sense of what's true or not. Facts matter.

Cain had been making a habit of playing loose with the facts, from his comments that China wasn't a nuclear power to arguing he was merely joking when he said that a fence between the U.S. and Mexico should be electrified -- even though all the evidence was to the contrary. He had largely escaped withering scrutiny, until this sexual harassment scandal.

Now I can say from personal experience that it takes a blatantly inaccurate personal smear for the Cain campaign to own up to its mistakes.

Image credit: AP

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Josh Kraushaar is the political editor for National Journal.

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