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.
On the June 30, 1996 edition of This Week, he complained, "Someone should have to pass a bare threshold of credibility before they’re put on the air to millions of viewers. You know, his [Gary Aldrich’s] story couldn’t get past the fact-checker at the National Enquirer....A 30-year record in the FBI in and of itself is no proof of credibility."
Apparently, Stephanopoulos' standards on this issue may have changed a bit.
A transcript of the June 7 segment, which aired at 7:13am, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Voters going to the polls in 12 states. Primary elections all across the country, including there's some big bucks being spent by Republicans candidates in California. Two multi-millionaire businesswomen running for the Republican nominations for Senate and governor. 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. We'll get to all of that, ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, right now, we're just 24 hours from another big election day across the country. Voters are going to hit the polls for in 12 states from California to Maine. One of the toughest fights, South Carolina, where a battle to replace Governor Mark Sanford that's been swirling with as much controversy as Governor Sanford himself. Steve Osunsami is in Columbia South Carolina with a sex scandal that is shaking up the race.
ABC GRAPHIC: "Dirty Politics" in South Carolina: Candidate Fights Off Attacks
STEVE OSUNSAMI: In a race to replace a governor who was brought down by a sex scandal, tomorrow's leading candidate for governor in South Carolina's Republican primary is being hounded by allegations that she also have affairs.
NIKKI HALEY: I'm Nikki Haley and this is my husband, Michael.
OSUNSAMI: State Representative Nikki Haley is 38 years old and a married mother of two. She's backed by the South Carolina Tea Party, First Lady Jenny Sanford and one Sarah Palin.
SARAH PALIN: Your next governor, Nikki Haley.
OSUNSAMI: In the last few weeks, as Haley's lead has grown, two men have come out and claimed they spent the night with her. A charge she denies over and over again.
HALEY: I refuse to acknowledge anything that's ridiculous like that.
UNIDENTIFIED DEBATE MODERATOR: What do you say to people who are watching who say where there's smoke there may be some fire?
HALEY: That I've been absolutely faithful to my husband for 13 years.
UNIDENTIFIED DEBATE MODERATOR: So this never happened?
HALEY: Never happened. Absolutely not.
OSUNSAMI: But Larry Marchant says it did happen.
OSUNSAMI: You're saying she's a liar.
LARRY MARCHANT: You know, call it what you what.
OSUNSAMI: He says it was June of 2008. And both he and Haley were attending a conference in Salt Lake City. He said it began with dinner and drinks and ended up in her hotel room where he spent the night.
MARCHANT: If Ms. Haley categorically denies that we had a physical relationship in Salt Lake City, Utah, she is not telling the truth.
OSUNSAMI: Marchant's critics say he can't be believed because he recently worked as a consultant for Haley's strongest opponent on Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer. Sarah Palin came to her defense, recording this message to voters.
PALIN: You can help take back state government by voting for the real-deal conservative, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday.
OSUNSAMI: Even after the rumors, observers say Haley's chances still look good. Haley's other accuser is a former aide to Governor Sanford, who hasn't spoken publicly but is doing a lot of talking online. George, he's sharing phone records that he says details conversations he had with Haley at all hours of the night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah. Something like 600 phone conversations. Boy, that state is going through a lot. You know, Robin, a lot of big races tomorrow. There's a Senate primary down in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln, two term incumbent facing a very stiff challenge, liberal challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. Labor unions have gone in on the side of Bill Halter. Bill Clinton has gone down for Blanche Lincoln. But, she could be the third straight incumbent to lose in a primary.
ROBERTS: But, bringing in the big gun, the favorite son of Arkansas, former governor. Similar situation, perhaps, with Harry Reid?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Harry Reid, the top Democratic target this year for the Republicans. Of course, he's the Senate Democratic leader. But, there's a Republican primary going on right now, where they're all fighting it out. Harry Reid has actually gotten involved in the Republican Party because he's trying to draw in the tea party candidate. We'll find out what happens tomorrow.