Pandering Has Its Consequences
Last week will probably go down as S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster’s worst week ever.
After turning the Palmetto State into a national laughing stock (again) with his politically-motivated witch hunt of the website Craigslist, ol’ “Kneejerk” Henry was barred yesterday by a federal judge from “initiating or pursuing any prosecution” against the company.
The grandstanding attorney general took the defeat quietly, which acknowledges just how monumentally this PR stunt has blown up in his face.
Making matters even worse, AP reporter Meg Kinnard broke a story yesterday in which McMaster admitted that over the course of his six years as AG, he’s never handled a prostitution case.
“I don’t think this office has handled any prostitution prosecutions ever,” McMaster told Kinnard. “Now this is something different. This is against the biggest want ads Web site in the world.”
Of course, a source in Kinnard’s report also noted how McMaster is ignoring much more graphic ads in locally-owned news outlets because he doesn’t want to cost himself possible endorsements in his upcoming GOP gubernatorial campaign.
Which underscores a point Craigslist made earlier in the week …
Now that the battle is over, though, attention is turning to the postmortem.
Specifically, what was it that spawned McMaster’s latest PR disaster?
Seriously, aren’t there easier ways to score points with this state’s social conservatives?
Or was ol’ “Kneejerk” trying to compensate for something in particular?
Frankly, we have no doubt that McMaster’s advisors urged him to gin up this whole PR stunt in an effort to counter all the bad press he received from botching a high-profile criminal sex trial two years ago.
McMaster’s team obviously knows that his GOP gubernatorial opponents will be making hay over his handling of this case, so what better way to deflect attention than by initiating a new, higher-profile prosecution of alleged online sex peddlers?
It’s perfect, right?
Yeah, “not so much.”
Years from now, they’ll be studying McMaster v. Craigslist in PR and political science classes all across the state – and just like his botched “sex dungeon” trial, we suspect the outcome of this one won’t get any better for ol’ “Kneejerk.”