A CASE STUDY IN THE FAILURE OF OUR GOVERNMENT, MAINSTREAM MEDIA
Last week, this website broke the news that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s fourteen-year-old daughter had been hired to work in the gift shop at the S.C. State House. For those of you keeping tabs of the litany of non-core government functions performed each year with our tax dollars, this particular function falls under the auspices of the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) – which itself falls under Haley’s office.
In the pantheon of news stories broken by this website over the years, the story about Haley’s daughter getting this job wasn’t a particularly huge scoop – but we ran it because it involved nepotism, tax dollars and child labor (raising legitimate political and legal questions on all three fronts).
Also, we found it curious that the directive to hire Haley’s daughter came straight from the director of SCPRT – who reports directly to Haley. We also found it curious that the job was never advertised – and that other workers at the office were forced to reduce their hours (and thus their earnings) to accomodate Haley’s daughter.
Anyway, not long after we ran our post (as is so often the case in this state) this story was picked up by the mainstream media – without attribution of course.
In fact a lengthy story prepared by The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper was published last week … albeit only for a moment. Almost as soon as the story ran, it was yanked from the web.
Reporter Corey Hutchins at The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times has the scoop:
Both papers apparently published the story before getting the memo that it had been spiked. That’s a news industry term for when a reporter’s story is killed by editors or publishers, and can sometimes come from a politician, corporation or outside entity putting pressure on a news organization to yank a piece it is planning to run.
The governor contacted officials at The State and the paper apparently agreed to kill it, but the story was still in McClatchy’s system, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. McClatchy owns The State and cross-publishes stories that appear in the Capital City daily in other out-of-town content-sharing papers.
A story like this being killed is almost unheard of in modern day journalism – although FITS readers may recall that The State has an interest in keeping Haley happy.
As we noted last May, The State had been having a bear of a time filling office space at its spacious three-story headquarters in downtown Columbia, S.C.
Who stepped in to help the paper out with that problem? Haley’s Commerce Department – which earlier this year used at least $500,000 in tax dollars to help secure a new rental tenant for the paper. The State‘s publisher, Henry Haitz, has repeatedly declined to discuss how much money his paper stands to make off of the deal, but we’re told it’s a pretty penny.
How about that?
The governor used our tax dollars to find a new tenant for this paper, which then repaid the governor by killing a story she didn’t like.
“It’s a great day in South Carolina …” unless of course you happen to be interested in getting at the truth.
Again, we don’t think the story involving the governor’s daughter was ever going to be a major scandal – but the fact that a news outlet which has received direct financial benefits as a result of actions undertaken by the governor’s administration decided to pull the story at her request is very, very troubling.
Equally troubling? The fact that the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) sees nothing wrong with Haley’s agency securing this job for the governor’s daughter (apparently Haley avoids serious legal trouble because she does not “directly oversee” SCPRT).
UPDATE: Here’s another great post on this subject courtesy of FreeThoughtBlogs.com.