George Stephanopoulos, who as a Democratic operative in the '90s coordinated with ABC to save Bill Clinton from scandal, on Wednesday teased an exclusive with Herman Cain's accuser, openly gloating, "Will our interview spell the end of the one-time front-runner's presidential bid?" [See video below. MP3 audio here. ]
The Good Morning America co-host could barely contain himself as he opened the show: "Cain's final turn. She claims to be Herman Cain's 13-year-mistress. Now, Ginger White is speaking out live, here, exclusively, on GMA as his campaign reels from her allegations." An ABC graphic hyped, "End of Days for Cain Campaign?"
Reporter John Berman wondered if "victory is now impossible" for the Republican.
The contrast between Stephanopoulos' excitement over Cain's accuser and ABC's hesitancy for Bill Clinton scandals is stark. On page 26 of "Pattern of Deception," the MRC's Tim Graham explained how the network assisted the 1992 presidential candidate deal with past draft problems:
Then, one of Clinton's ROTC officers, Clinton Jones, released a 1969 letter from Clinton he had kept for years thanking ROTC commander Eugene Holmes: "I wan to thank you, not just for saving me from the draft, but for being so kind and decent to me last summer, when I was as low as I ever have been."
The response was protective. ABC producer Mark Halperin handed Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos the Jones letter on February 10. [Strange Bedfellows author Tom] Rosenstiel recalled the discussions within ABC: [World News Tonight producer Paul] Friedman did not want to go with the story yet, and Peter Jennings worried about "piling on" and "manipulating the process." Friedman and Jennings thought the letter was simply too complicated for the nightly news."
[Emphasis added.] For Clinton, the response was disinterest and attempts to help the Democratic candidate. With Cain, Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed Ginger White to call on the Republican to step down: "Finally, do you believe Mr. Cain is fit to be president? Or should he end his campaign?...So, should he end his campaign?"
A transcript of the November 30 interview, which aired at 7:04, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Cain's final turn. She claims to be Herman Cain's 13-year-mistress. Now, Ginger White is speaking out live, here, exclusively, on GMA as his campaign reels from her allegations. Will our interview spell the end of the one-time front-runner's presidential bid?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get right to the woman at the middle of the firestorm right now. Ginger White joins us this morning. Thank you so much, Ms. White. And I want to begin with the fund-raising letter Mr. Cain sent out last night. In it, he calls you a troubled Atlanta businesswoman and says your story is completely false. Your response?
GINGER WHITE: Um, it's very disappointing that he would- that he would call me troubled. And, you know, it's unfortunate. I'm not here to say anything negative about Mr. Cain. I'm only here to state the truth and what's happened in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is the truth?
WHITE: Well, to begin, our relationship was on and off for the last 13, 14 years. This was not a consistent love affair that went on every day for the last 14 years. So, he is correct when he made that statement. And as far as I can tell, or what I'm hearing, that is the only thing he has been correct in saying.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He also says he has helped you- Excuse me. He also said he has helped you financially over the past few years. Has he given you money?
WHITE: Yes, he has.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On what occasions?
WHITE: I've received gifts and money for the last two and a half years consistently.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he ask for anything in return for that money?
WHITE: No. This was nothing- this was not sex for cash.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing I'm struck by is that you've also shown phone records showing at least 61 phone calls over the last several months. Even after the physical relationship ended. And, and, and most strikingly, you just gave us earlier this morning, phone records from October and November, showing multiple texts, back and forth, between cain, just as these other stories about sexual harassment allegations are breaking in the press. He seems to be calling you in late October, on November 2nd. November 3rd. November 4th. November 5th, November 7th. November 8th, 13th, 14th and 18th. He's texting you all month long, all this month!
WHITE: That's correct. Our communication has, you know, just up until last week, when, you know, the leak- several leaks and media- the media was- they were calling my cell phone. They were calling family members. And just up until last week, that was my last contact with Mr. Cain. And you know, the thing is, I can't imagine waking up one morning and deciding to come out with this, if this was not true. This has been a very difficult situation for myself, for my family. And it's nothing that I am proud of. The truth of the matter is-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.
WHITE: The truth of the matter is, when I entered into this inappropriate relationship with Mr. Cain, I was single. I was not married. Mr. Cain has been married throughout the entire relationship. And, you know, it's unfortunate. As far as any proof, which has- you know, I was watching several media shows just last night. When you enter into a private relationship that you really do not care to share with the public, you really don't enter into something like that holding on to receipts. Holding on to gifts or if there were any notes or anything like that, to come out eventually and say, "Yeah, this is what happened and here is my proof." That's absolutely something that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: What was the relationship, exactly? Was it an affair? Was it fun? Was it just sex? Tell us about it.
WHITE: It was a very casual affair. Am I proud to admit to that? No, I'm not. It was a very casual affair that Herman flew me to- on several trips. I went on several trips with Herman. We- one particular trip was the Mike Tyson/Holyfield fight in Las Vegas. You know. I can't make this stuff up. And frankly speaking, I wouldn't want to make this up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In these texts the last couple of weeks, was he texting you to try to get you to not tell your story?
WHITE: Absolutely not. The funny thing about Herman Cain is, never in a million years did he probably think I would speak out on this. And honestly speaking, I never wanted to.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, why did you?
WHITE: I wanted to come out with this to tell- to tell my side of the story. I came out being very honest. And, so far, I have been absolutely humiliated, embarrassed, and I look at the women who came out with, you know, the sexual harassment allegations. And, you know, we're really comparing apple to oranges. But, it's been very, very hurtful. I feel their pain. This is a completely different scenario. But I'll be honest with you, it's not been fun. And, you know, have I had financial problems? Absolutely. Have I ever been evicted? Never.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have-
WHITE: Where I reside now-
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have been sued for libel by a former business partner.
WHITE: Yes, I have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And how do you say to those who say it calls your credibility into question?
WHITE: Sure. I mean, I don't think my dealings with my business partner is any other business that may have had a partner and they had disputes or disagreements. Did I handle it? You know, at the time, it was very emotional and it was upsetting. It was disappointing. And you know, I am- I'm human. And it was a mistake. I apologize. I actually sent an E-mail stating, you know, my apology and my sincere regrets. She continues to want to move forward with this when I thought this was put to bed and sue me for money.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, do you believe Mr. Cain is fit to be president? Or should he end his campaign?
WHITE: In my opinion, no, I do not. I honestly do not think that he is, in my opinion, would make a good president, as far as I'm concerned. Our- my views are different than his views. But at the end of the day, this is not political. This is absolutely not political.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, should he end his campaign?
WHITE: And I never tried to make it out to be that. I'm sorry?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should he end his campaign?
WHITE: That's something that he has to look himself in the mirror and ask himself. You know, last night, I slept very well, telling the truth. I'm not sure what's going on in his head right now. But it's unfortunate that any of this is going on.