Politico site published last 31 October 2011 an article with title: “Herman Cain accused by two women of inappropriate behavior“. The content explained that this innapropriate behavior referred to allegations of sexual harassment:
During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.
This issue has produced a huge media impact, as Herman cain candidature was emerging as one of the favorite choices among Republican voters.
As this is a highly conflictive and politized affaire, we provide as reference for the continuation of the events during the first wee how Wikipedia presents them, as we consider it as an external source to all affected parts.
In October 2011, Politico reported that two female employees had complained about inappropriate behavior by Cain during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. The women reportedly accepted financial settlements from the association which barred them from discussing their allegations further. Cain’s campaign initially refused comment, but subsequently acknowledged that the accusations had been made. Cain strongly denied any impropriety, stating: “I have never sexually harassed anyone and those accusations are totally false.” He denied being aware of any financial settlement to the accusers, and described the allegations as a “witch hunt”. In an interview with Greta van Susteren, Cain further said that the allegations had been investigated and found baseless. He recalled that one of the specific allegations was making a gesture indicating his wife’s height by holding his palm flat, which one of the accusers found objectionable.
You can refer to Wikipedia entry for sources used by the authors of this description of the events.
Herman Cain is facing a political and reputation crisis which can eventually be crucial for his political aspirations, first in the Republican candidacy race and, if elected, in the Presidential elections.
This is a special stage in the elections campagin, as Herman Cain is opposing to President and Democrat canditate Barack Obama, but also against own party rivals to get the Republican ticket.
We wanted to explore what happens when such a reputation and political crisis explode in terms of media coverage and media attraction.
Political issues are normally at the source in ideological bias in media coverage.
The interesting thing of this kind of cases is that it could be unclear (at least to me) which party finds more attracting or necessary to cover a potential big scandal that can ruin the career of one of the candidates of a party: the media biased in favor of your ideas, or the media opposed to them?
From one side, if a scandal explodes in your rangs, but you count with other remaining options to present as Presidential candidate, Republican oriented media would concentrate its attention to the issue in order to clarify things and choose the candidate best prepared to fight the rival.
In the other side, a political scandal is always something specially attractive by media opposed to this party, and thus Democratic oriented media would deserve as much media attention as possible. If this second force prevails, media attention to Cain complaints by Democratic biased media should be higher than Republican oriented media.
In the short period of a week, massive media coverage of the case has also been complemented with savant political analysis concerning the political winners and losers in this story. As explained in other post, we do not intend to rivalise with them, and we do not propose any additional political analysis.
As always in this post, our contribution is to provide empirical evidence based in actual media coverage analysis.
The strategy that we follow in this post is similar to the one followed in other recent cases, like Troy Davis execution and the death penalty media debate.
We monitor and identify media coverage to this isse state by state. Then, we create groups of states based in relevant variables. We finally look if media coverage intensity is substantially different between the groups of states. If there appear relevant differences in media coverage for a given variable, the result suggest that the issue tends to be sensitive to the selected variable as it produces a bias.
The main variable that we use in this post for creating groups of states is evidently state ideology. Also, we will evaluate if the variable black people in the state plays also a role, as candidate Herman Cain is an Afroamerican, and some commentators like Rush Limbaugh accuses Politico story as an “Unconscionable Racially Charged Attack“.
Data is based in the monitoring of news published about Herman Cain that explicitly refer to harassment (up to 5 November 2011), state by state. This data has been tranformed into a ratio between number of news about harrashment between total number of news about Herman cain during the last month.
We have been able to identify some 11,500 different news directly mentioning the allegations. Right now, some 36% of all news published since month refer to the harassment allegations. This is to say how serious this affaire is, as it has multiplied Herman Cain media coverage since the publications of past allegations.
We go directly to the results, and present first the empirical findings concerning ideology media bias.
We count with two measurements. Left side bars refer to data excluding special states. We exclude Georgia, as it is Cian’s home state, and thus media coverage there is not driven only by ideology but also by local factors. We exclude also data concerning New York and California. This is simply because they are too big states in terms of media coverage and they crunch the impact of the behaviour of the other states in their category. Right side bars refer to results with all states included.
The picture we obtain as for the conclusions is mixed: if we refer to data gathered from all states, we find a media bias favorable to Republican oriented media, which present higher level of media attention to the affaire. But if we exclude the special cases, we find that there is no difference between both type of states in the first figure (each group is formed by states with a margin bigger than 10% in 2008 Presidential elections) or even Democratic bis if we consider just strong idelogic states (each group is formed by states with a margin bigger than 20% in 2008 Presidential elections).
A regression of media coverage of all states against the media attention given to the harassment affaire shows a slight biaas towards a higher media attention by media from Republican states.
We will see if a more clear trend emerge from future media coverage measurements as the affaire evolves.
Next figure shows media attention by states according to the weight of black people. We compare media coverage intensity in states counting with more than 15% of black citizens compared to states with less than 4% of black people.
We find that the scandal is being perceived as a racially sensitive issue. States with higher proportion of black people tend to give a bigger media coverage than states with lower proportion of black people.
We can confirm that this racial media sensitiveness is linked to the accusations case itself after looking hte results of the following figure. We show media attention to Herman Cain before the accusations where published. We find that before 31 October, media coverage to Herman cain was barely the same in both groups of states.
Update: 6 November 2011
We provide new results with additional news about the accusations published by 6 November 10am CET.
Some polls show first negative impact of accusations in voting intention. According to Reuters:
The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.
Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.
The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.
A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.
“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.
Reuters, 6 November 2011
This survey suggest that this reputation crisis may eventually kill Herman Cain options to become the Republican candidate. Which type of media is following the evolution of this crisis more intensively?
Our results show that current trend, measured by the evloution between 5 and 6 November news, is that Democratic oriented media is fuelling the media interest of the allegations. Their media coverage grows more than coverage given by media in states politically dominated by Republican voters.