We’re increasingly of the opinion that it’s not the mouth-breathing, knuckle-draggin politicians who bear the onus for South Carolina’s rampant corruption and increasingly expensive ass-backward state government.  Obviously these “leaders” are getting away with all manner of diabolical evil, but let’s be honest – they’re only getting away with it because they can.

Why is that the case?

Easy: Because South Carolina’s mainstream media is a joke.  When Palmetto State reporters aren’t ignoring scandals, they’re making excuses for our state’s failed establishment – and demonizing anyone who dares to challenge it.  And in the rare instance in which scandals are broken, there’s never any follow-through.  Take the saga of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, for example.  To its credit, the press did a decent job of exposing (albeit incompletely and belatedly) all the laws that Haley broke during her tenure as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives … but when it came time to actually hold Haley accountable for her actions, the press was nowhere to be found.

Hands down, the biggest political scandal in South Carolina this year was the way the S.C. House Ethics committee cleared Haley of wrongdoing in a ridiculous show trial.  Yet rather than expose this miscarriage of justice for what it was – the press trumpeted the ruling as if it were gospel, effectively absolving Haley of all culpability for her prior sins.

The end result?  A governor who should probably be in jail was permitted to continue selling our state down the river (literally) for her own interests.

Renee Dudley

Anyway, one of the few mainstream media reporters in South Carolina who has bothered to do some legitimate investigative reporting over the last few years – as well as some legitimate follow up on the many scandals that have rocked our state – is Renee Dudley of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.

Dudley – who recently broke open a major scandal involving S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell – is a dying breed in the MSM (at least in South Carolina).  She’s got good sources, a keen news sense and she’s a helluva researcher/ writer.  But beyond that, Dudley isn’t afraid to get in people’s faces – as evidenced in this infamous exchange with Haley.

There simply aren’t many – if any – real investigative journalists left in South Carolina, and Renee Dudley was easily at the top of that list.

Wait … “was?”

That’s right … the 26-year-old hottie has accepted a job in New York City with Bloomberg, one of the largest news services in the world.  She’ll be covering the national retail beat … Walmart and the like.

And she starts next month … meaning there won’t be many more of her bylines appearing in the Post.

That’s a damn shame … for the Palmetto State.  For Dudley, it’s probably like the end of a prison sentence.

“Five years reporting in South Carolina,” Dudley told FITS. “It’s time to move on.”

Good for her …

Did we always agree with Dudley’s coverage?  No.  Did we think there were times where she could/ should have done more?  Absolutely … but more than any other mainstream reporter in the state, Dudley has been willing to directly take on our failed status quo as opposed to parroting talking points or glossing over the truth in the name of expediency and “maintaining a network of sources.”

In other words she’s done her job … as evidenced by her reporting on the Bobby Harrell scandal.

For her efforts, Dudley has weathered significant pushback from the powers-that-be in this state.  Only 21 years old when she started reporting on South Carolina politics, Dudley – who several lawmakers initially took for a hot college intern – was dissed by Haley as a “little girl” after she had the audacity to question the exorbitant taxpayer expenses associated with the governor’s 2011 “European Vacation.”

She never responded to Haley’s insult …

We wish Renee nothing but the best in her future endeavors, but there’s no getting around the fact that her departure represents a substantial weakening of an already anemic Fourth Estate in South Carolina.  That’s terrible news for the citizens and taxpayers of this state … but music to the ears of corrupt politicians like Harrell and Haley.