Friday, March 25, 2016

Is Ted Cruz's sex scandal going to derail his campaign?

Ted Cruz. Daily Beast/Reuters. 

It's been a crazy 24 hours since the Ted Cruz sex scandal story really began to take hold. On Twitter, #CruzSexScandal was trending for most of the night and well into morning. I followed it all day for the most part but I wasn't really comfortable writing up a blog post last night or this morning. Why? I just didn't have a good enough source The original report came from the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid. Though The Enquirer has broken some major stories before, including the John Edwards sex scandal which they almost won the Pulitzer Prize for, it's still a tabloid. It doesn't have a stellar reputation to the point where I saw the issue in question and briefly considered buying it. But I didn't because even though I was shopping at Wal-Mart, I was too embarrassed to be seen buying it.  

Now I have a better source. The Daily Beast has a report detailing many of the issues raised by the National Enquirer. As a review, the original article claims that Cruz was having an affair with 5 different women, three of which have been identified because the Enquirer did a piss poor job of pixilating their pictures. Two of them have publicly denied the report, so I feel comfortable naming them. 

The first is Katrina Pierson, who used to work for Ted Cruz but is now a spokeswoman for Donald Trump's campaign. She denied her supposed involvement with Cruz, but did not say if any of the other allegations are true. 

The second was Amanda Carpenter, who works as a CNN talking head and had worked with Cruz as a speechwriter until about a year ago. Hilariously enough, Carpenter was confronted with the allegations on CNN this morning, which was an amazing example of live television going off the rails. You can see the video in this article, which also shows Katrina Pierson's tweet denying the story.  

So what's my take on this? If it is true then Ted Cruz is done. Not just as a presidential candidate, but as a Senator as well. The accusations, if true, make Cruz look like a gigantic hypocrite, since he has always run as a fundamentalist Christian. Even if it isn't true, or can't be proven, Cruz is going to take a major short term hit in the polls. Enough that he will probably lose my home state of Wisconsin. I will say if the allegations due turn out to be false, Cruz will get a huge boost in the polls and Donald Trump will be hurt. 

But is it true? I think there is a bit of evidence each way. The fact that a lot of other news outlets passed on this story makes me think that there isn't a whole lot of evidence for these affairs. On the other hand, some of those passes could have been for political reasons. For example, Breitbart, an alt-right news organization, passed on the story, but they have been accused in the past for being in the bag for Ted Cruz. That doesn't mean that the story is good, but it could offer up a second explanation as to why they didn't cover it. Indeed, it's very possible that both options are true.

I also have to point out that there hasn't been any solid evidence that has been released. The Daily Beast article claimed that there is video footage of Cruz meeting with one of the women every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays while coming out of a hotel, but that video hasn't been released. Until that happens, this story doesn't have a lot of proof. The article was a weak one and named the women without naming any sources or showing any evidence like photos or video. 

But I think there is a circumstantial case for it being true, even now. First of all, I watched both Heidi and Ted Cruz this morning while they were in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for a campaign event. Both of them seemed a bit more nervous then they normally are, and when Heidi talked about how much she loved her husband, it seemed more then a little forced. That could just be because they were caught off guard by this story, but I am not so sure. Amanda Carpenter's denial of the story on CNN also convinced me that there was a bit of fire causing this smoke. It seemed obvious to me, just based on my experience with liars, that she was lying, though I could of course be wrong.

None of that would hold up in a court of law though. But I think there is a much better argument for this story being at least partially true. Why? Because the National Enquirer will get sued into oblivion if it wasn't true. In order to avoid a lawsuit for libel, not only from Ted Cruz, but from Pierson and Carpenter as well, the Enquirer would have to be able to prove in court that the allegations true. Otherwise their magazine is going to be utterly destroyed in court, especially after what Hulk Hogan did to Gawker. It's too big of a risk for the Enquirer to publish this without some stronger evidence that they are holding back. 

Even more convincing to me is that both the Rubio and Trump campaigns shopped this story around. When Rick Wilson, an establishment crony and genuinely terrible person, was shopping it around to various news organizations, it was clear that he was a Rubio supporter. Had he been able to sell the story and it turned out to be false, Rubio would have lost Florida by a greater margin then he did. That was obviously against his and the other Rubio supporters goal, so they wouldn't have even tried if there wasn't some evidence here.

The same thing will happen to Donald Trump's campaign if this story turns out to be false. Even though Trump has disavowed the story, his former campaign adviser Rodger Stone, who Trump fired last summer, was the only person quoted in the story. Trump has a lot of pull at the National Enquirer, and I think it would be unbelievable if they wrote this story without his approval. And no matter what, Trump was going to get blamed for this story anyways, so he'd be crazy to release it without knowing that it is true. 

The common thread here is that neither campaign, Rubio or Trump, would have wanted this story to get out if they thought it would hurt their campaign. The fact that they allowed it means that, in my mind, they think it is a legit story. 

So what is going to happen now? I expect the video of Cruz and one of his supposed mistresses to be released soon, by next week at the latest. I also expect the National Enquirer to release a follow up report with stronger evidence, if, for no other reason, to avoid getting hit with a massive lawsuit. Other media outlets are going to dig into this story as well, and I am betting they find something. Expect video by next week and a concession speech shortly after that. Once Cruz is out of the race it's a two man race between Trump and Kasich, who is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination.  

Finally, I have to say that I am very disappointed with Ted Cruz. That was true even before this scandal erupted. His actions in Iowa, where his staffer lied to Ben Carson supporters saying he dropped out and sent out voter "grades" that looked a lot like voter intimidation, were enough to be disgusted with him. Even if these allegations are false, I was long ago convinced that he didn't have the ethical standards to be president, even if I agree with him politically.

 If the allegations are true, and I am about 80% sure that they are at least partially so, then he's scum who doesn't deserve to be in the race. Though I don't think cheating on your wife should automatically disqualify you from being president even if it is a scummy thing to do, I hate hypocrites. Cruz ran as a Christian conservative and like so many in the past, he may not have lived up to what he preached. Nobody likes people who say "do as I say, not as I do"... 


  1. Not sure if the Enquirer cares about the truth even after Hulk Hogan's big win. Hulk hasn't collected one penny and I can see many judges who would overturn his award. Therefore, I have to wait for better intel on these allegations. Will it end his presidential bid if true?? I hope the American Voter can see his hypocrisy and send him packing. I don't have much confidence in the Voters so it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't give a shit about this story. Bill Clinton got off easy for his crap.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I think this is different then what happened with Clinton. His base wasn't made up of Evangelical Christians. Cruz draws most of his support from them, and they are the kind of people that would be disgusted by this behavior.