On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer provided analysis of Tuesday's primary elections across the country, describing the South Carolina gubernatorial race "where they continue to draw their political plot lines from, you know, 'Desperate Housewives' or something" and how Nevada Democrats were "very happy" with the victory of tea party candidate Sharron Angle.
Speaking to Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez, Schieffer ran down the most watched races in Arkansas, California, South Carolina, and Nevada. When he got to South Carolina, he described gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley as "very conservative." After making the 'Desperate Housewives' comparison, he remarked how the GOP primary in the state was "providing some entertainment, as it were, for the rest of the country. I mean, you had Governor Sanford down there and his adventures. And now these allegations against Nikki Haley." He quickly added that the allegations of adultery against Haley were "without foundation" and that "Nobody has proven anything."
Rodriguez then asked if "Harry Reid is happy or fretting the fact" that tea party-backed Sharron Angle won the GOP senate primary in Nevada. Schieffer declared: "I suspect that Democrats in Nevada are very happy about this....I think the Reid people think that he would have a much better chance beating her than some of the other Republicans in the primaries."
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday again highlighted charges of adultery against Republican Nikki Haley. He pressed the South Carolina gubernatorial candidate, demanding to know if she'd embarrass the state with scandal.
After reading a quote from a voter, the former operative to scandal-plagued Bill Clinton fretted, "Can you assure South Carolina voters that they're not going to be embarrassed if they elect you?" [Audio available here.]
The ABC host referenced claims, touted by Republican primary opponents, that she had been unfaithful. Stephanopoulos quoted, "And last night, the man you face in the runoff, Congressman Barrett, said 'Character is not one of the things that matters, it's the only thing that matters.'"
Ex-Clinton operative tuned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Monday touted allegations about a supposed affair between South Carolina's Nikki Haley and a lobbyist. Recounting the details of the charges leveled against the Republican politician, the Good Morning America host marveled, "And down in South Carolina, they can't just seem to get enough of it, in the gubernatorial primary, the leading candidate embroiled in a bit of a sex scandal."
Stephanopoulos and reporter Steve Osunsami engaged in gossip over the accusations. Osunsami warned that one of Haley's accusers is "sharing phone records that he says details conversations he had with Haley at all hours of the night." Stephanopoulos chided, "Yeah. Something like 600 phone conversations. Boy, that state is going through a lot."
It seems rather hypocritical for the GMA host to push this story. When FBI agent Gary Aldrich wrote a damaging book about Bill Clinton in 1996, the then-Democratic operative tried to bully the media into not covering the story.
MSNBC on Friday didn't let lack of proof stand in the way of interviewing a man claiming he had an affair with a conservative favorite, South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley. Tamron Hall talked to lobbyist Larry Marchant and announced, "Her campaign is, again, denying a second allegation that Haley, a married mother of two, cheated on her husband."
Hall did conduct a tough interview with Marchant, demanding, "What proof do you have? What proof do you have that you had an affair? She says it didn't happen." The News Live host repeatedly pressed the lobbyist, who was just let go from a position with a competing Republican candidate.
After Marchant offered nothing more than his own word, Hall derided, "Larry, I gotta stop you here because of a couple things. You say you went to dinner and all these other things. That is that's not proof had you a sexual encounter with her." Yet, if the News Live host and the producers at MSNBC found his story to be so lacking, why have him on the network at all?
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:
The press routinely flogged itself in the Bill Clinton years for being too quick to acknowledge when women suggested they'd had affairs or been harassed by Clinton. They would have been extremely slow to relay a cheating allegation with no details or proof. So why are national media outlets repeating an unproven adultery allegation....and against a woman? When the guy has a domestic violence record?
Because she's a Republican? In Mark Sanford's South Carolina? Sarah Palin-endorsed South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has seen an unsubstantiated adultery charge spread by the Associated Press, The Washington Post, Newsday, and CNN, whose Wolf Blitzer ran to the evidence-free story on The Situation Room Monday:
BLITZER: South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, has been the GOP frontrunner, picking up endorsements from Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, and many others. But her campaign has suddenly been rocked by allegations of an extra-marital affair -- charges she's strongly denying.
Our Lisa Sylvester has been looking into all of this for us -- Lisa, tell our viewers what's going on.