Earlier this fall, Herman Cain had some advice for GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson. “Have a political SWAT team ready, because they are going to try and destroy you in ways you don't expect,” Cain said in an interview after a Donald Trump rally. “I knew I was going to be attacked [in 2012]. I knew I was going to be criticized. But I did not anticipate I was going to be attacked with vicious, phony lies, back to back to back to back.”
Now, with Carson engulfed in a media firestorm over the details of his own biography, Cain said he saw it coming all along because the same thing happened to him.
Four years ago to the day, on Nov. 10, 2011, it was Cain, not Carson, who led the national polls in the GOP primary. Like Carson, Cain had no political experience, but had rocketed to the front of pack of political veterans on the strength of an inspiring life story and a record of success in the private sector. But just as Cain rose to the top of the polls, Politico ran a story that two women had accused Cain of sexually harassing them while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, a charge Cain denies to this day.
On Nov. 11, 2011, Cain fell to second place in the polls against Mitt Romney. Four days later, he had tumbled to third behind both Romney and Newt Gingrich, as more accusations surfaced against Cain and the GOP field marched on.
“I still get pissed off about this stuff and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “Politico ran over 700 re-runs and recycled stories about accusations against me, 700, and there wasn’t any new news. They didn’t try to dig and get the facts.”
Speaking about their Carson coverage, Cain called Politico “sneaky” and “dirty" for writing that Carson had admitted to “fabricating” a story in his book Gifted Hands, in which Carson said he had been offered a scholarship to West Point. The Carson campaign said that he had never applied to West Point, but called the story “a flat out lie.” Politico later changed the story’s headline and added an editor’s note with more details from the Carson camp.
“Clearly Ben Carson did not lie,” Cain said. “Politico lied because they said he fabricated a story, when in fact, they fabricated a headline. At this point I think that Ben is winning this round.”
But reporters have continued to repeat Politico’s original report and go on to question Carson’s accuracy on a number of details in Gifted Hands. Cain says that Carson has handled the controversies well, but that there is a larger dynamic at play in Washington journalism and politics.
“Ben Carson is not only a conservative, he is a conservative who happens to be black. There is only one group of people that liberals hate worse than conservatives, and that’s conservatives who happen to be black,” Cain said. “The reason for that is real simple. They resent conservatives who happen to be black for leaving the Democrat plantation. And you can quote me on that.”
Cain accused the media, many of whom he said are “liberal vultures,” of trying to destroy Carson—and predicted that Sen. Marco Rubio will be next.
But he reserved his strongest criticism for Politico alone. “Too many people believe they are a credible news source when they are not,” he said. “As a friend of mine told me, “If Politico says that your mother loves you, duck, because she might be shooting at you instead.”