Herman Cain and the Anatomy of a Smear Campaign

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Yet again today, the talk of the political world surrounded the sexual harassment accusations that are being leveled at Republican frontrunner Herman Cain. Now this afternoon the attorney for one of Cain's accusers announced that his client will not go public about the incident that allegedly took place back in 1999.


JOE BENNETT, ATTORNEY FOR CAIN ACCUSER: She and her husband see no value in revisiting this matter now nor in discussing the matter any further, publicly or privately. In fact, it would be extremely painful to do so.

Mr. Cain knows the specific incidents that were alleged. My client filed a written complaint in 1999 against him specifically, and it had very specific incidents in it, and if he chooses to not remember or not acknowledge those, that's his issue.


HANNITY: Now Bennett also directly contradicted some of what Herman Cain told me on my radio program yesterday. You may recall, Cain was adamant that a severance package was paid to the woman and not a settlement. Now, Bennett was asked about Cain's claim this afternoon.


BENNETT: That is an inaccurate description of the settlement agreement.

This was a settlement of an internal complaint of sexual harassment. It was not a severance agreement.


HANNITY: Now, all of this unfolded as it was happening, Cain pressed forward with his campaign, even releasing a powerful video in response to the anonymous attacks that he's endured all week. Let's take a look.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: What is known as the mainstream media goes for the ugliest, racial stereotypes they can to attack a black conservative.

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is either socially ignorant or playing games to get votes.

HARRY BELAFONTE, SOCIAL ACTIVIST: It is very hard to comment on somebody who was so denied intelligence.

JUSTICE CLARANCE THOMAS: This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. It is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves. And it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured rather than hung from a tree.

GRAPHIC: Don't Let the LEFT Do it Again.


HANNITY: So, could a comparison being made between the Clarence Thomas confirmations hearings and the way that Herman Cain was treated this week?

Joining me now in studio with reaction. The author of the best- selling book, "Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate." Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Good to see you. How are you?


I'll tell you before we start. I just watched that, you know, that business with Sharpton and Belafonte, denied intelligence. Who is trucking in racial stereo types here? Who is trying to destroy somebody? It's unbelievable that one black man would do that to another.

HANNITY: But I played you also this week. I played you some audio and it got worse. Smoking the proverbial crack pipe.

WILLIAMS: I heard it. Yes.

HANNITY: And it gets worse, you know, he is --

WILLIAMS: Bad apple.

HANNITY: Bad apple. He is the Tea Party's one black friend. And it gets worse from there.

WILLIAMS: Yes. The whole idea is he's a token, he's a puppet, he's being manipulated, he's someone who is being used by white people. I mean, it's unbelievable they would deny this man his own independent intelligence, his will, his own success. It is an outrage. And you think about this. You think about what happened to Clarence Thomas. You think about what they're doing now to Herman Cain. And the parallels are clear. I don't know you could deny, how you got to turn away from it.

HANNITY: What is it? There seems to be an acceptance that you can attack black conservatives, African-American conservatives. You can attack conservative women, you know. Lately, I've noticed they're going after Marco Rubio, Hispanic conservative. Is there -- why can this happen in this day and age? Why?

WILLIAMS: Well, because it's permitted, and because people that disagree, people that leave the liberal orthodox playing field, people who want to think for themselves are immediately condemned as traitors. If someone's a traitor, well then, of course they're a target. And I can't help but think that this week, what we've seen with Herman Cain is a man as he describes it, with a big target on his back, Sean. This guy -- can you imagine that the AP is running stories, anonymous stories by people who never filed a complaint but who now that Herman Cain is (INAUDIBLE) want to jump on the bandwagon and whip him? This is unbelievable.

HANNITY: You know, I remember, you and I have talked about this a lot personally on air and off the air. You got emotional the night that Barack Obama got elected.


HANNITY: For historical reasons.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I've written books about the civil rights movement.

HANNITY: OK. You have. And this is what's interesting to me. You know, there could be a possibility that we would have in America, because he's a leading Republican contender, an African-American elected and another black American elected back to back.

WILLIAMS: Correct.

HANNITY: And why would people not see that as an historical achievement as well? Because I totally understand why you felt that way.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Right. But you know what, Sean? He's not a certain kind of black person. He's doesn't think in a way that fits their mold. And so the idea that -- remember, even, even Barack Obama was slow to get support from the black liberal establishment because he wasn't exactly their kind of guy, either. He's become more their kind of guy. Bu when you think about Herman Cain, Herman Cain is a threat. I said this to you before, a threat to that black liberal establishment when Herman Cain is out there saying really, are you better off than you were four years ago?

When Herman Cain is out there saying, I have ideas, about the needs to improve the black community, things that can be done empowerment's own and the rest. When he starts talking about what's going on in the schools, when Herman Cain is out there talking about tax reform that will benefit all Americans, but it doesn't fit the kind of rhetoric that's being trumpeted by the liberal establishment and especially the black liberal establishment.

He's not talking victimization. He's talking about empowerment. And I want to say this loud and clear. He's a model for, you know, for my black kids and your kids, too, Sean.

HANNITY: Pillsbury, Burger King.

WILLIAMS: Exactly.

HANNITY: Godfather's Pizza.

WILLIAMS: How about the GOP primaries? Nobody gave him a shot.

HANNITY: Look at the rhetoric that we've heard about race, about the Tea Party. Tea Party is not a racist movement.

WILLIAMS: No. I don't think so. No. There have been instances that have concerned me, but overall they're about lower taxes, smaller government. That's what it's about.

HANNITY: You've got a congressman in Florida saying that conservatives in America want blacks hanging from trees. You've got the president saying Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. You got Joe Biden saying that if you don't support the president's stimulus, rapes and murders are going to go up. And obviously, those Republicans want it. And this rhetoric is going on here. In this case, it's five days, no source, no direct source in the story.


HANNITY: Number two. The accuser said, she doesn't want to talk about this case.

WILLIAMS: This is an important development because remember, today the Restaurant Association said, if she wants to come out, they would waive the confidentiality agreement. She then says no, she doesn't want to come out.

Well, wait a minute, then. What is going on here? And this business that the lawyer -- and you have the lawyer there saying well, that's not quite right what Mr. Cain said on your show. Of course it is right. Cain said that there was an agreement. And the Restaurant Association said, he wasn't party to any agreement.

HANNITY: That's right.

WILLIAMS: They didn't call it as settlement.

HANNITY: That's right. They backed up Cain's story.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. So what is he talking about?

HANNITY: And this lawyer is out there irresponsibly, you know, I think, not speaking on behalf of his client, obviously. If he's not going to give the details, at some point people have to say OK. If you're not going to release this, if you're not going to tell the story and make a direct confrontation, he needs to be set free. And I'll tell you why in this sense. Because if people have the demon of doubt in their mind, if people, his likability has been key to his success.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

HANNITY: But if people think oh, oh, this may come out in the general campaign, then in that sense, it is going to hurt him and it is going to linger and people are not going to want to put candidate that might be vulnerable in the general campaign.

WILLIAMS: And see, the thing is, and this is the way Herman Cain puts it. Let Herman be Herman. Let him be himself. His biggest asset is Herman Cain. People feel he's an authentic conservative voice in America. They don't see a flip flopper. They see a guy who stands up and makes his case and makes it emphatically with strength. And they want that against Barack Obama. Now, if you go begin to introduce this doubt that you're talking about, you're undercutting the guy.


HANNITY: But it's hanging out there now.

WILLIAMS: And it's terrible.

HANNITY: It's horrible.

WILLIAMS: To me, it's only possible when you see a strong black conservative that is now being -- and permission given by the black liberal establish to go after this black man in this very low ball way.

HANNITY: This has got to stop. These attacks against conservative African-Americans, conservative women, has got to stop. I know it's going to happen, I've got to tell you. Is because people like you who I almost always disagreement have the courage to speak out. And I give you a lot of credit. I really do.

WILLIAMS: Well, I appreciate it. I just think it's an outrage.

HANNITY: You're going to get beaten up.

WILLIAMS: Oh, I get beat up on this all the time. I mean, you know, talking to you, say Juan, you're more left than I am. But you know what most people say.

HANNITY: You're way left.

WILLIAMS: Right. But guess what? That's not the way.

HANNITY: If it's Herman Cain and Barack Obama, you're voting for Obama.

WILLIAMS: Right. I don't know who I'm voting for. I'm not sure about Herman Cain, in terms of when I put him up against Obama. And I'm not sure how that would play out. But I got to tell you this. I think, there are a lot of black people in this country who seeing what Herman Cain has done would vote for Herman Cain. I think it might break apart some of this rock.

HANNITY: I'll tell you. You're right. Every kid can be inspired.

WILLIAMS: That's what I'm saying.

HANNITY: His father was janitor with three jobs. His mother was a maid. He grew up poor. He broke through so many difficult challenges in his life and succeeded, and now he may be the president one day or be running for president.

WILLIAMS: What an awesome story. And imagine that you would somehow want to diminish this man, talk about his intelligence and just call him a bad apple stays in a crack pipe.

HANNITY: It's unbelievable.

WILLIAMS: It is unbelievable. And every American should stand up and say no, enough.

HANNITY: All right. I agree. I totally agree. Good to see you, Juan. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Nice to see you, Sean.

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