N.Y. Times Published Unproven Adultery Claims of Nikki Haley -- After a John Edwards Blackout

Clay Waters of MRC's Times Watch project noticed this week that the The New York Times was just as guilty as The Washington Post of jumping on the unsubstantiated adultery charges against female GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley in South Carolina:

[Reporter Shaila] Dewan used the sex scandal of former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford as an excuse to suggest, without substance like emails or phone messages, that the claims by blogger Will Folks fit a pattern of sexual bad behavior in the Palmetto State:  “Scandal Rattles Politics In South Carolina, Again.” The text box to Wednesday's print story worked in the party identification: “A blogger says he had an affair with a G.O.P. candidate for governor.”

The treatment of a fairly obscure Republican politician stands in sharp contrast to the paper's blackout of the amply documented affair of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The Times totally ignored the Edwards affair until the candidate himself confessed on ABC News, then, when its own public editor criticized the paper's lack of coverage, editors made hypocritical excuses.

Dewan certainly didn't do much hedging around the claims of blogger Will Folks, relaying the accusation with a tone of near-giddiness:

Virginia may be for lovers, but sultry South Carolina is beginning to earn a reputation as the state for extramarital madness.

This state was just starting to shake off the embarrassing spectacle of Gov. Mark Sanford, who is limping out of office after admitting to an affair last year, giving late-night hosts a new laugh line with his initial cover-up: that he had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

But now, one of Mr. Sanford’s political allies -- who is a top contender to succeed him -- finds herself embroiled in a possible sex scandal of her own.

Only two weeks before a highly competitive Republican primary for governor, the candidate, State Representative Nikki Haley, has been hit by charges, leveled by one of her supporters, that she had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with him three years ago.

On Tuesday the supporter, Will Folks, a blogger and political consultant, promised to document claims that he had had a relationship with Ms. Haley.

Ms. Haley, who leapt to frontrunner status last week, days after an endorsement by Sarah Palin, issued a strong denial, saying, “I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage.”
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis