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Politico's Martin Still Can't Explain Exactly What Herman Cain Did

In an interview with Howard Kurtz on CNN, Politico's Jonathan Martin still can't explain what exactly it is that Herman Cain reportedly did to the women who received payouts from the National Restaurant Association. Mr. Martin's main argument is because the story hasn't been fully challenged, it must be true. Here's a partial transcript of the back-and-forth between Martin and Kurtz.

Howard Kurtz, CNN: "Jonathan Martin, let's talk about the first story last Sunday, you and three colleagues reported this and what it didn't contain in the way of details. Here's the language from the story. Sexually suggestive behavior that made the women angry and uncomfortable, descriptions of physical gestures, not always overtly sexual, innuendo, and in one case, an unwanted sexual advance at a hotel."

"Why publish the story then when you couldn't answer the essential question: What precisely is Herman Cain alleged to have done to these women?"

Jonathan Martin, Politico: "Howie, I think any journalist would find the, uh -- a report of two women got a fine figure, each, cash payout after alleged sexual harassment against a CEO of a trade group that is now a major contender for president, newsworthy. And that's the story we had, and that's what we published."

"Now, as my editor John Harris has said, of course you want to get more detail and get more reporting, but that's what happened this week. Obviously, we printed what we could print last Sunday and of course we had multiple sources on this, a half a dozen, actually, as we mentioned in the piece."

"Now, as for the detail of it, we're dealing with sensitive sources, sensitive information here and obviously we tread delicately when it came to that. As you noted, though, on the buildup to your segment, during the course of this week, Politico, my colleagues and the New York Times and others have gotten closer to this in terms of the detail of what actually happened."

Kurtz: "You had to make a go or no go decision. I think at a lot of news organizations an editor would have said 'you have done some terrific reporting here, you've got some great leads here, but you don't have it. You can't, you know, have a quote of what he said to any of these women, you're obviously not able to name the women, you don't have the details of the sexually suggestive behavior that made them angry. Go back and get more. You could have waited, there was nothing forcing you to publish this last Sunday."

Martin: "Well, we had the fact that one of these women was brought upon by Cain in a hotel room and was made to feel very uncomfortable. We reported later this week more upon what actually happened with that episode, Howie. She was upset by that, that hours later she confronted a member of the board to complain about Cain's treatment of her, an explicit sexual overture in a hotel room. So again --"

Kurtz: "But you can't tell me what the overture is?"

Martin: "-- with these kinds of stories, obviously the first story by not having all the information that you want, but subsequently reporting by my news organization and many others has corroborated the basic fact of this story. That's not in question at all. Mr. Cain has offered varying responses to this story, but nobody has challenged, and in fact, the facts have been corroborated."

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