by William Moultrie
Columbia – Yesterday, seven of the largest daily newspapers in South Carolina ran the same full-page ad asking Governor Mark Sanford to remain in office. The ad ran on Sunday in Columbia’s The State, Charleston’s Post & Courier, the Greenville News, the Florence Morning News, the Myrtle Beach Sun News, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, and the Beaufort Gazette.
The ad begins with the headline “What Would King David Do?” an apparent reference to the comparison Gov. Sanford drew between himself and the biblical figure. From there, the ad implores the governor to remain in office, citing rising readership and sales statistics, and closes with a vague threat of undisclosed information that may or may not be made public at some point. A note at the bottom of the ad states that it was “Paid for by Newspapers United To Save Advertising & Circulation (NUTSAC).”
Nobody reached at any of the newspapers would speak on the record about the ad, but all of them were willing to be anonymous sources. theDiscust was approached to participate in the campaign, but declined citing our strict adherence to journalistic ethics.
“Obviously we want him to stay,” said the anonymous source at The State. “We literally hired extra ad sales staff the day before we printed the emails because we knew we’d get a huge bump in sales. When your horse wins the derby, you don’t just put him out to pasture, you keep riding him.”
“Sure there was a bit of friction,” said the anonymous source at The Greenville News, “but that’s to be expected when you get all of us in the same room. But in the end, we all were on the same page — newspapers were already in decline when this recession hit, and some of us are barely holding on. Sometimes you make a ethical sacrifice here or there in the interest of the greater good.”
“Maybe we have a little more dirt on the governor, maybe we don’t,” said the anonymous source at The Post & Courier. “Is it unethical to hang on to something to hold it over the governor’s head? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what we have and what we do with it. Technically, if it never gets released, then it’s not news, so how can we be withholding it? Also, we can always claim we hadn’t ‘verified it’ and therefore weren’t comfortable releasing it – The State seems to be getting away with that argument, so we’re not too worried.”
The governor’s staff repeated the previous statements that Gov. Sanford has no intentions to resign.
“He said he’s not resigning,” said Sanford spokesperson Joel Sawyer, “but he told me he was going hiking, so what the fuck do I know? If you want to know what’s going on with him, then you’ll have to ask him yourself. Let’s see, he was on Sullivan’s Island this weekend and he told me he’d be back in Columbia on Monday, so maybe try him in Portugal.”
“I’m not worried at all,” said the anonymous source at the Florence Morning News. “It would be great if Sanford stayed on, but if he doesn’t… well, you should see the dossier we’ve got on Andre Bauer. Either way, things are looking up for the news business in South Carolina.”