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nikki haley versus wach fox, south carolina governor

A Columbia, S.C. television station slammed by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley as “tabloid news” is defending itself against the governor’s attacks, calling her allegations “patently false” and “a willful attempt” to harm the station in response to its “fair coverage of a relevant news story the governor apparently wants ignored.”


Additionally, the management of WACH TV-57 (FOX – Columbia, S.C.) is demanding a “retraction and public apology” from Haley.

“The WACH FOX news department has published or broadcast more than 100 stories pertaining to Gov. Haley during the past year,” said David Olmsted, president and CEO of the station. “Despite that voluminous amount of reporting, there is not a single documented instance of the governor challenging the accuracy of any fact in any of those reports.”

“The governor’s own actions concede the station’s coverage has been consistently fair, credible and accurate,” Olmsted added.

(To view the WACH segment on Haley, click here).

Haley obviously disagrees with Olmsted’s assessment.

“WACH FOX 57 is a tabloid news station and has no concept of journalism,” Haley wrote on her Facebook page early Monday morning.

Haley’s anger was the result of this story, in which FITS founding editor Will Folks dared the governor’s office to sue him after he provided more specific details of the “inappropriate physical relationship” he had with Haley in the spring of 2007.

(To read our original report on Haley’s Facebook dig, click here).

Haley’s trash talk is also the latest chapter in her ongoing Sarah Palin-style war against the mainstream media, which will no doubt be ramping up in intensity now that Haley has decided to once again abandon her transparency rhetoric by holding budget meetings behind closed doors.

The dust-up also comes a week after Haley’s chief of staff, Tim Pearson, dodged questions about his role in covering up the affair – including text messages sent to Folks that featured statements like “I’m telling you man, we keep this under wraps and (Haley) is going to win.” Later texts from Pearson expressed lament for the smear campaign that Haley and her allies launched against Folks in an effort to destroy his credibility.

While local affiliates do not necessarily share the conservative views of FOX News national, they often do. And it’s going to be especially hard to pin the “liberal media” tag on WACH given that the station’s news director – Bryan Cox – is a former spokesman for the S.C. Policy Council, the conservative think tank that has consistently supported Haley and led the charge on her signature issue of government transparency.

“Mr. Folks published a statement that essentially calls the sitting governor of our state a liar; and he then dared her to sue him for it. From my perspective that is absolutely a newsworthy event,” Cox said during WACH’s segment on Tuesday night.

“It’s entirely possible that Will Folks is lying,” Cox continued. “However, if he is, our society has a legal framework in place to recover damages for libel and defamation. The fact Folks is taunting the governor to do exactly that, along with these unanswered questions, forces us to accept at least the possibility he may be telling the truth.”

So … how is the story playing for Haley?

According to our poll, 79 percent of respondents felt her response to WACH FOX was “immature” compared to 15 percent who said it was “appropriate.” Six percent were unsure. According to a WACH FOX poll, 69 percent of respondents said that Haley’s response weakens her and “cheapens the office of the governor.” Meanwhile, 23 percent said the exchange strengthens Haley and shows her to be an aggressive leader.

To read the FOX story (and watch the video), click on the link below …


Pic: Travis Bell Photography