NEW YORK -- When CNN producers booked Herman Cain on Sunday to appear on "The Situation Room" the following day, they couldn’t have expected that the Republican presidential candidate would be on air denying allegations of a 13-year affair with an unnamed woman, the latest in a string of sexual allegations that have dogged his candidacy.
But during a commercial break Monday after the first of three segments, CNN producers began to see tweets referencing an upcoming story by Atlanta TV station WAGA that included an interview with the woman making these new allegations. Producers then contacted a Cain staffer in the network’s greenroom, according to Washington DC bureau chief Sam Feist.
While seated during the commercial break, anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Cain about the forthcoming Atlanta report. The candidate acknowledged that his campaign had been contacted about it and would be willing to discuss it on air.
"This individual is going to accuse me of an affair for a specified period of time," Cain said after the commercial break, adding that the woman was someone he considered a friend. Cain said there was no sex involved, but added that he would not go into specifics until after the story airs.
WAGA reported the woman's name, Ginger White, and details about the allegations after Cain left the studio.
To viewers at home, it may have looked like Cain headed to the cable news network specifically to try and get in front of the Atlanta story, rather than the interview having been the result of a well-timed booking on CNN's part. The former would have represented a major shift in the campaign's media strategy; when Politico published its initial report that Cain had settled with two women who had accused him of sexual harassment in the early 1990's, his campaign had 10 days to answer a number of questions but waited until after the piece came out to do so. Following the Politico scoop and the subsequent media frenzy, Cain continued to skirt questions about the allegations and others that later surfaced, finally addressing them when two women came forward.