After Fox News' Chris Wallace dismissed an anonymous claim, reported by The Washington Times' Kerry Picket, that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was behind the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, Picket is back at it again with help from the Fox Nation.
Today, Picket's targets are former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his one-time chief of staff.
In a November 2 blog post, Picket reported a claim by an anonymous source that Emanuel likely leaked the story about sexual harassment allegations against Cain:
Herman Cain's campaign is revealing suspicions about who is behind the story regarding the former unidentified employees who accused Mr. Cain of sexual harassment in the late 1990's.
According to a source who is friends with the Cain campaign, not only is the Rick Perry campaign involved but also the Mayor of Chicago and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is likely involved with the sexual harassment accuser attacks. A friend of the Cain campaign believes a National Restaurant Association (NRA) employee out of the Chicago office leaked the story to the Perry campaign via information and influence from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.
When asked about Picket's report, Wallace said it "seems really thin." Wallace also suggested it doesn't make sense that Emanuel would leak the story, because it would not benefit Obama, whereas leaking it in "September or October of 2012" would. Nevertheless, right-wing media, including Fox, hyped the anonymously sourced claim about Emanuel to cast doubt on the allegations.
Picket, an editor and opinion blogger at the Times, has now tried to cast suspicion on Illinois Restaurant Association president Sheila O'Grady, who served as chief of staff to Daley until 2007. But Picket's innuendo seems just as thin now as it did before.
In a November 7 blog post, titled "Latest woman to accuse Cain brings Chicago back in the picture," Picket wrote:
Bialek, who identified herself as a Republican, was born and raised in Chicago and spent the majority of her life in the city. From the end of 1996 until her termination in mid 1997, she worked for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Chicago offices. Bialek says she does not plan on filing any lawsuits against Mr. Cain.
Although the National Restaurant Association has a government relations office in the Washington D.C. area, it's main headquarters is in Chicago, where the annual show is held and where the state restaurant associations network with another.
Interestingly, the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), located in Chicago, is headed up by Sheila O'Grady. Ms. O'Grady, who was the chief of staff to former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, was appointed President of the IRA in 2007.
Picket also commented on a statement she received from O'Grady's office following her initial post tying Emanuel to the Cain leak. The statement indicated that O'Grady "does not have a prior connection to Mr. Cain ... nor does she have any knowledge of the current allegations stemming from his tenure at the organization." Picket wrote:
O'Grady served as Mayor Daley's chief of staff for a number of years until 2007. Daley, no stranger to controversy himself, was recently slapped with a lawsuit last spring by John Brooks, Chicago's former fire Commissioner. Brooks claimed that Daley threatened to smear him over what Brooks said were false sexual harassment allegations if Brooks did not retire on his own.
I made no mention of O'Grady in any previous blog post. One Chicago radio host, however, did mention her name following my post on Emanuel. Other than that, why is O'Grady speaking up now?
Fox Nation highlighted and linked to the Washington Times' claim that the "latest Cain accuser has a Chicago smell."
Picket is about as subtle as a hammer. With the allegations that Emanuel was involved in the Cain leak looking increasingly dubious (Emanuel has denied any involvement), Picket has now suggested that because both Bialek and O'Grady worked in Chicago at restaurant associations and because O'Grady was the chief of staff to Daley, it is possible that O'Grady is involved with the Cain leak.
Without any actual substance, however, Picket's latest reporting on the Cain allegations is just as dubious as her first. But given how the conservative media rushed to hype the anonymous claim about Emanuel's involvement with the leak the first time around, that's unlikely to stop them from doing the same with Picket's latest report.