The State: Media Outlets Offered to Spin Sanford Story

The (South Carolina) State, via open records laws, late yesterday received “nearly 600 pages of documents — e-mails and phone call exchanges — between” South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s staff members during those days last month when the governor was, um, out of pocket, and reports:

By June 22, four days after Sanford had left for his trip, dozens of media outlets were working to determine where he was.

Some outlets, hoping to outdo their competition, were volunteering to coordinate with the governor’s office to spin the story to Sanford’s advantage…

A staffer with The Washington Times wrote in an e-mail that “if you all want to speak on this publicly, you’re welcome to Washington Times Radio. You know that you will be on friendly ground here!”

On June 23, a Fox News Channel correspondent wrote to [Sanford staffer Joel] Sawyer, “Having known the Governor for years and even worked with him when he would host radio shows for me — I find this story and the media frenzy surrounding it to be absolutely ridiculous! Please give him my best.”

… (a sister publication of the Wall Street Journal) associate editor Brendan Miniter, in an e-mail to Sawyer, called the WSJ’s first-day coverage bunk. “Someone at WSJ should be fired for today’s story. Ridiculous,” Miniter wrote. A number of people, including comedian Stephen Colbert, wrote Sawyer to say they thought the story had been blown out of proportion.

(h/t, TPM’s Zachary Roth — a onetime CJR staffer— who updates his post with a comment from the Washington Times’s executive editor, John Soloman, who says the “friendly ground” email came not from the newsroom but from a marketing employee.)

Wonder who that “Fox News Channel correspondent” might be…

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.