Emails Reveal Media’s Over-the-Top Schmoozing, Hackery in Gov. Sanford Scandal

July 15, 2009

(ChattahBox)—When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, disappeared last month to be in the arms of his Argentine mistress in Buenos Aires, his communications director, Joel Sawyer did his best to clamp down on the growing story of Sanford’s disappearance, while fielding numerous emails and phone calls from media outlets eager to curry favor with Sawyer.

The release of records obtained by the daily newspaper, The State under a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals the national media’s eye-opening schmoozing tactics used to befriend Sawyer, even promising slanted coverage favoring Governor Sanford for an exclusive interview.

Reporters are known for promising anything to gain a competitive edge in return for a scoop or an exclusive interview. But the emails sent to Sanford’s communications director reveal more than just currying favor. Several conservative media outlets known already for their slanted right-wing coverage, blatantly promised a positive spin to the story on Sanford’s behalf or downplayed the story entirely.

A reporter with The Washington Times wrote an e-mail saying, “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!”

A Fox News Channel correspondent wrote to Sawyer saying, “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.”

Associate editor Brendan Miniter from the, a sister publication of the Wall Street Journal, e-mailed Sawyer referring to the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the Sanford story as bunk. “Someone at WSJ should be fired for today’s story. Ridiculous,” wrote Miniter.

Josh Marshall from the Talking Points Memo hilariously refers to the reporters all too eager to offer slanted coverage, as “Hacks on Parade.”

Other reporters took a less blatant approach in the hopes of extracting some information from Sawyer, by acting like they were old buddies. Chris Cillizza who writes the column, The Fix for the Washington Post, sent a “buddy” email to Sawyer saying, “Dude, is everything ok?”

The Conservative site, The Garnet Spy wrote, “He’s with Dick Cheney at the infamous “undisclosed location,” right?

Even Stephen Colbert emailed Sawyer informing him that he went power mad and declared himself Governor of South Carolina.

Colbert sympathized with Sawyer saying the story was blown out of proportion, offering to interview Sanford “In person here, on the phone, or in South Carolina.

Quite an entertaining media parade indeed.


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