When a politician is accused of wrongdoing, I think you learn even more from the precise wording of a politician’s denial as you do from the accusation itself.
When Herman Cain’s campaign was asked by the Associated Press yesterday if Politico’s story alleging complaints and payouts resulting from Cain’s alleged inappropriate behavior were true, the campaign offered an unambiguous “Yes,” as in yes, we are denying it.
But the more Cain’s campaign talks about the story, the more their responses veer into the territory of the non-denial denial. A non-denial denial is a statement that sounds and feels like a denial, but doesn’t directly address the core allegation.
Some of the non-denial denials Cain’s people have offered up in the past 24 hours include:
“Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.”
“To my knowledge, this is not an accurate story.”
And my favorite:
Herman Cain’s charm is that he comes off like a plain-spoken, no-nonsense guy. When he and his campaign respond to serious allegations in Clintonesque lawyer-speak, that charm vanishes.