It's only been four days since it was revealed that Herman Cain settled sexual harassment claims when he ran the National Restaurant Association, but the pace at which he's reversed and changed his story only seems to be accelerating.
It's only been four days since it was revealed that Herman Cain settled sexual harassment claims when he ran the National Restaurant Association, but the pace at which he's reversed and changed his story only seems to be accelerating. It took days for Herman Cain to change his mind about whether he remembered a settlement over the sexual harassment claims against him, a day to change his mind about who was behind it, and mere hours to change his mind -- twice! -- over whether his former campaign consultant stabbed him in the back by leaking the story. But just because people talk about the "accelerated" news cycle all the time doesn't mean they forget things more quickly. Unfortunately for Cain, there is video of him making all these contradictory statements -- not to mention the paper records of what actually happened at the National Restaurant Association way back in the 1990s that will probably come out eventually. But to help you keep up, here are the key points so far.
Sunday, October 30
Politico gave Cain's campaign 10 days to respond to the story, and then reporter Jonathan Martin confronted him. "I'm not going to comment," Cain said. When Martin pressed him, Cain replied, "Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?"
Monday, October 31
Cain tells the National Press Club, "I was falsely accused of sexual harassment ... It was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis. As far as a settlement, I am unaware of any settlement. I hope it wasn't for much, because I didn't do anything. But the fact of the matter is I'm not aware of any settlement that came out of that accusation."
Tuesday, November 1
Cain campaign manager Mark Block told reporters at National Journal’s Election 2012 Preview, "Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story." But he then hinted he knew Cain had made unwanted comments recently: "As the hours go by, it's interesting that we even hear from a radio talk show host of Iowa that a receptionist thought that Mr. Cain’s comments were inappropriate."
Then Cain was interviewed by Fox News' Greta van Susteren and suddenly remembered a settlement. How much was it for? "Thousands, but I don't remember a number. But then [the general counsel] said, The good news is because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement ... Maybe three months' salary or something like that, just vaguely trying to recall it."
Later Tuesday, Cain addressed a whole Fox panel. Charles Krauthammer asked him why he couldn't remember a settlement earlier that day, but suddenly remembered on van Susteren's show. Cain said he was just confused by the word "settlement." Cain explained, "Well, it wasn't intended to be Clintonian. It was simply using the word 'agreement,' which in business organizations that I have run, whenever there has been an employee leaving, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, we would generally call it an agreement. So that was the perspective from which I got around to that after trying to recall what was happening 12 years ago.
Cain added that racist liberals were behind the charges. "I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it. ... Relative to the left, I believe that race is a bigger driving factor."
Wednesday, November 2
But Cain changed his mind about who was behind the story after a third woman told the Associated Press she'd been harassed. Cain decided Rick Perry's campaign was to blame, telling Forbes:
"I told my wife about this in 1999 and I’ve got nothing to hide ... When I sat down with my general campaign consultant Curt Anderson in a private room in our [Senate] campaign offices in 2003 we discussed opposition research on me. It was a typical campaign conversation. I told him that there was only one case, one set of charges, one woman while I was at the National Restaurant Association. Those charges were baseless, but I thought he needed to know about them. I don’t recall anyone else being in the room when I told him."
Anderson works for Perry now. When asked about the charges, Anderson denied having ever heard the story, and was like, What are you guys talking about? I like Herman Cain.
Thursday, November 3
Block told Fox the campaign changed its mind; Anderson wasn't the source after all. "All the evidence that we had of what transpired in the last two weeks added up that Mr. Anderson was the source. We were absolutely thrilled he came on your show and said that it wasn't because Mr. Cain had always had the utmost respect for him." So much respect that he didn't bother to call Anderson and ask, Hey did you rat me out? Block continued, "We accept what Mr. Anderson had said and we want to move on with the campaign."
Later that same day...
Cain went on Sean Hannity's radio show, apparently having not gotten the memo about the truce with Anderson. First, he blamed Forbes for the accusations against Perry. "A reporter did this research and came up with these facts, we didn't ... That was the reporter that wrote the report for Forbes," Cain said, according to The Hill. And yet! Cain still blames Perry, saying he didn't "see any other way this could have come out" and "there aren't enough breadcrumbs that leads us to any other place." And yet!! Cain's not even entirely sure he told Anderson about the sexual harassment claims. "I am almost certain that I did. … This is why we want to get off this merry-go-round," Cain said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
When the government shuts down, the politicians pipe up.
No sooner had a midnight deadline passed without congressional action on a must-pass spending bill than lawmakers launched their time-honored competition over who gets the blame for their collective failure. The Senate floor became a staging ground for dueling speeches early Saturday morning, and lawmakers of both parties—as well as the White House and political-activist groups—flooded the inboxes of reporters with prewritten statements castigating one side or the other.
Led by President Trump, Republicans accused Senate Democrats of holding hostage the entire government and health insurance for millions of children over their demands for an immigration bill. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators,” the White House said in a statement issued moments before the clock struck midnight. In a series of Saturday-morning tweets, Trump said Democrats had given him “a nice present” for the first anniversary of his inauguration. The White House vowed that no immigration talks would occur while the government is closed, and administration officials sought to minimize public anger by allowing agencies to use leftover funds and by keeping national parks and public lands partially accessible during the shutdown—in effect, by not shutting down the government as fully as the Obama administration did in 2013.
Allegations against the comedian are proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.
Sexual mores in the West have changed so rapidly over the past 100 years that by the time you reach 50, intimate accounts of commonplace sexual events of the young seem like science fiction: You understand the vocabulary and the sentence structure, but all of the events take place in outer space. You’re just too old.
This was my experience reading the account of one young woman’s alleged sexual encounter with Aziz Ansari, published by the website Babe this weekend. The world in which it constituted an episode of sexual assault was so far from my own two experiences of near date rape (which took place, respectively, during the Carter and Reagan administrations, roughly between the kidnapping of the Iran hostages and the start of the Falklands War) that I just couldn’t pick up the tune. But, like the recent New Yorker story “Cat Person”—about a soulless and disappointing hookup between two people who mostly knew each other through texts—the account has proved deeply resonant and meaningful to a great number of young women, who have responded in large numbers on social media, saying that it is frighteningly and infuriatingly similar to crushing experiences of their own. It is therefore worth reading and, in its way, is an important contribution to the present conversation.
The website made a name for itself by going after Aziz Ansari, and now it’s hurting the momentum of #MeToo.
Fifteen years ago, Hollywood’s glittering superstars—among them Meryl Streep— were on their feet cheering for Roman Polanski, the convicted child rapist and fugitive from justice, when he won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Director. But famous sex criminals of the motion picture and television arts have lately fallen out of fashion, as the industry attempts not just to police itself but—where would we be without them?—to instruct all of us on how to lead our lives.
The Golden Globes ceremony had the angry, unofficial theme of “Time’s Up,” which quickly and predictably became unmoored from its original meaning, as excited winners tried to align their entertaining movies and TV shows with the message. By the time Laura Dern—a quiver in her voice—connected the nighttime soap opera Big Little Lies to America’s need to institute “restorative justice,” it seemed we’d set a course for the moon but ended up on Jupiter: close, but still 300 million miles away. And then Oprah Winfrey climbed the stairs to the stage, and I knew she wouldn’t just bat clean-up; she’d bring home the pennant.
How NASA scales down to a skeleton crew when Congress misses a big budget deadline
As the wheels of the U.S. government ground to a halt Friday at midnight, thousands of federal employees prepared to face days or weeks without work or pay until their offices reopened.
Some employees will continue working through the government shutdown, however, including the three with the longest commute: NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba, and Scott Tingle. Despite the political tussle that closed most of the government on Saturday, the American part of the International Space Station remains open for business. Mission control staff, considered “essential” personnel, will keep working, too, to support the astronauts.
Phew. And, well, obviously! After all, NASA can’t exactly press pause on the work of keeping humans alive in microgravity 200 miles above Earth, even if Congress missed the deadline for the government running out of money.
In transcending left-right divides, the French president may be creating a monster of a different sort.
Foreigners are fascinated by French President Emmanuel Macron. And why shouldn’t they be? He’s the youngest-ever president of the French Republic, elected with no party and no previous electoral experience, a virtual nobody just two years before he leaped to the forefront of the French political scene. Of course people are curious.
But there’s another reason my non-French friends bombard me with questions about my president. Like myself, most of them have advanced degrees and upper-middle-class backgrounds. This sort of socioeconomic status correlatesstrongly with affection for Macron.
His views mirror those held by most of this “elite” class. He thinks the left-right divide should be transcended. He doesn’t care about outworn ideologies, but about solutions that work, wherever they come from. He thinks startups are cool and the economy should be generally entrepreneurship-friendly, but he also wants some sort of welfare state. He’s got no problem whatsoever with gay marriage. He believes immigration is desirable for both economic and moral reasons.
New research shows that the best humor is both a little bit wrong and a little bit right. Is there something about comedians that makes them better at subversion?
Immediately after 9/11, comedy ground to a halt. The Daily Show went off the air for nine days. Saturday Night Live, whose 27th season started 18 days later, featured a somber cold-open with Lorne Michaels asking New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, "Can we be funny?"
The staffers of The Onion, the satirical paper that had just relocated to New York, weren’t sure how to answer that question. Even three weeks after the attack, the comedian Gilbert Gottfried was publicly hissed at for joking that he was taking a flight that would make a stop at the Empire State Building.
The Onion staffers agonized, but they eventually settled on publishing an entire paper devoted to 9/11 on September 26. As described by psychologist Peter McGraw and journalist Joel Warner in their upcoming book, The Humor Code, the issue was smash hit. The Onion writers aimed their bile at the hijackers, whom they depicted being tortured by “tusked, asp-tongued demons” in Hell. One headline read, “God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule.”
Stories of gray areas are exactly what more men need to hear.
The story of Aziz Ansari and “Grace” is playing out as a sort of Rorschach test.
One night in the lives of two young people with vintage cameras is crystallizing debate over an entire movement. Depending on how readers were primed to see the ink blot, it can be taken as evidence that the ongoing cultural audit is exactly on track—getting more granular in challenging unhealthy sex-related power dynamics—or that it has gone off the rails, and innocent men are now suffering, and we are collectively on the brink of a sex panic.
Since the story’s publication on Saturday (on the website Babe, without comment from Ansari, and attributed to a single anonymous source), some readers have seen justice in Ansari’s humiliation. Some said they would no longer support his work. They saw in this story yet another case of a man who persisted despite literal and implied cues that sex was not what a woman wanted.Some saw further proof that the problems are systemic, permeating even “normal” encounters.
An infamous gap in Interstate 95 will finally be closed this summer.
PENNINGTON, N.J.—The past few years have been thick with promises of shiny new infrastructure and the revival of American greatness.
Funny, then, that so little has been made of a quiet victory for U.S. infrastructure due later this year. By September 2018, one of the country’s most famous civil-engineering projects will finally complete construction, six decades after work on it began.
Interstate 95, the country’s most used highway, will finally run as one continuous road between Miami and Maine by the late summer. The interstate’s infamous “gap” on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey border will be closed, turning I-95 into an unbroken river of concrete more than 1,900 miles long. In so doing, it will also mark a larger milestone, say transportation officials—the completion of the original United States interstate system.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Harnessing the resource could help them achieve the graduate’s dream: finding a job.
One summer, a group of students with research jobs on campus, including myself, met up at a Thai restaurant in our college’s small town. This was our third free dinner of the week. Our school’s career center was hiring a new member for its team and wanted each candidate on its short list to meet with actual students. Naturally, the staff enticed us with the promise of free meals.
Armed with questions suggested by the career center, we would grill each candidate, asking the prospective hire questions about topics such as how they’d manage their time and their strategies for keeping professional boundaries with students. As we nibbled on our curry cellophane noodles and chicken pad thai, though, we would invariably loosen up and begin talking about what actually mattered to us: The career center was too far from main campus, and some of the services—including an online database of jobs that was difficult to navigate—didn’t always feel especially helpful. During this particular dinner, we asked the candidate how she’d convince students to take advantage of the services while also improving them. She pledged to host events on the main campus and collect feedback electronically from students about what they wanted from the center.