Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Haley doesn't have to resort to name calling

Haley vs. Media: WACH Fox Edition

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 5:50 PM

I'm risking a biting rebuke from the governor's Facebook page, but I'm going to go ahead and comment. You see, Columbia's Fox affiliate has demanded an apology from Gov. Nikki Haley following an insult that was posted on her Facebook page following a story on the late-night news that followed a salacious post by blogger Will Folks about an alleged affair. All of that followed a silent response last summer from Haley's gubernatorial campaign that followed Folks' original affair claim that followed a coordinated cover-up between Folks and the Haley campaign that followed at least a professional relationship between the governor and the blogger.

According to Haley's office, we're supposed to ignore all of this drama, even though the consequences couldn't be more dramatic. Folks explicitly dared the governor to sue him for libel by printing what is likely the most tawdry 281 words of his forthcoming memoir last week. When the blogger first made the claims last spring, Haley vowed she would leave office if Folks could prove the affair. She proceeded to avoid any questions about the alleged affair or the text exchanges between Folks and campaign manager Tim Pearson (now the governor's chief of staff). Folks hasn't proven the affair, but the texts prove he was working with the Haley campaign to dodge questions about the affair, until he came forward on his own.

WACH Fox of Columbia reported on Folks' latest affair post in a weekend broadcast. The governor or (more likely) someone in her close circle of confidants took to her Facebook page and posted, "WACH Fox 57 is a tabloid news station and has no concept of journalism." The post is still on the page. So, a story that would have literally ended with that night's broadcast will now go on for days, if not weeks and months.

In a response, WACH defended its editorial decision, noting that the governor has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the campaign's involvement with Folks, as well as questionable statements she's made about the extent of their relationship. But the station's management went further, calling for a retraction and apology from Haley. "WACH Fox President/CEO David Olmsted stated Tuesday the governor's published comments are patently false and appear to be a willful attempt to inflict harm on WACH Fox in response to the station's fair coverage of a relevant news story the governor apparently wants ignored," the statement read.

The Haley camp's contempt for the media has been evident since early in the campaign. In a panel discussion a few weeks ago, Pearson claimed the media is an uncontrollable beast. "It demands accountability of others and has none itself," he said. Understanding that you, dear reader, would hold us accountable, we left a message for Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey, asking who controls the updates to the governor's Facebook page and whether there was a response to the station's call for an apology. We have yet to receive a response. How's that for accountability?

The problem with the Haley camp is that they still think the affair is the story that the press is chasing. That's over. The governor has answered questions about the affair, I think, to a reasonable extent. We're more interested in the campaign's conversations with Folks in the weeks before the blogger went public. "My initial thought is if it ain't from you or nh then it's a tough sell," Pearson texted Folks regarding a supposed third party that was going to come forward about the affair. Pearson later texted, "I'm telling you, man, we keep this under wraps and nh is going to win."

If Folks had simply made his claim and Haley had simply countered, all of this would be over. But the text exchanges like the ones above show Folks wasn't attacking the campaign, he was working with the campaign. We've yet to see Haley or Pearson address these comments. I'm sure they're working under the philosophy that the less attention they pay to the questions, the better. As long as Folks has his soapbox (and I'm pretty sure he'll be around through 2014), these questions will linger. Haley should explain everything. Discredit Folks. Hell, sue his ass. And move on.

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