Five days have passed since Will Folks published his damning expose of The Post and Courier.
If you’re a political junkie or a media fiend, then you read it. If you didn’t, then imagine that everything else that comes after this sentence is but the ravings of a madman who is recounting a trip he once took to China on which he met a kindly old bear who taught him all he needed to know about chess and love, a unicorn who was born with a six-foot-bong on its head instead of a horn, and a pair of ravishing transgendered conjoined twins with a penchant for reciting passages from the forthcoming e-book The Many Crimes of Wyatt Duvall, Archmotherfucker — retroactive shameless plug alert.
OK, now that that’s out of the way, let me say this: Why the fuck hasn’t anybody called Will out on his hypocrisy? Seriously, guys, the entire premise of Will’s “Post and Corruption” story comes down to this key point: The Post and Courier knows Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell’s dirty secrets and they aren’t going to tell the public. And in order to keep these secrets hush-hush, the P&C has fired two reporters.
Why are they doing it? Well, because they, along with every newspaper, don’t have to pay sales taxes on newsprint and Harrell has threatened to rally lawmakers to remove that exemption. Gasp.
With grating outrage and feckless anger, Will notes that this sales tax exemption amounts to some $13 million a year. Now, does the P&C save $13 million a year? Nope. This is apparently the number for every newspaper that buys newsprint in South Carolina. So, what is already a pretty small sum is now divvied up between 100 papers in South Carolina. (It’s worth noting that the state has given Boeing alone $290 million in freebies.)
Maybe Will’s right. Maybe the P&C is willing to deep-six their integrity by squashing a few stories on Bobby Harrell just to pocket a few bucks here and there, and if that’s what they are doing, we here at the City Paper thank them for doing it. I wouldn’t have been able to buy the bottle of bourbon in my desk drawer without their willingness to ruin their reputation like a pay-to-play blogger still reliving his Hootie and the Blowjob, Five Point-fantasy glory days.
Here’s the thing: The P&C hasn’t squashed much of anything when it comes to Harrell. In fact, this is where Will’s attack goes off the rails. The P&C has not only published a series of hard-hitting articles on Harrell and his apparent misdeeds, they were the first to report these stories. The State didn’t break them. The City Paper didn’t break them. And FITS News sure as hell didn’t break them.
But what if the P&C is hiding something? What if this campaign to keep Harrell’s secrets secret is actually working?
That’s possible, but honestly, their efforts wouldn’t amount to much. See, somebody somewhere would report whatever it is that the P&C is allegedly hiding. It might be my City Paper colleague Paul Bowers. It might be the Free Times’ Corey Hutchins, the best journalist in the state. It might even be the P&C itself. The point is, if Harrell’s got a secret, there’s nothing that the P&C or Harrell can do to stop it.
All of this raises the most important question of all as far as this sad tale is concerned: Why isn’t Will reporting on Bobby Harrell’s secret? Can’t he FOIA the same documents that former P&C reporters Renee Dudley and Stephen Largen FOIA’d? Can’t he speak to the same sources that these two enterprising young whippersnappers spoke to? Can’t he uncover the truth that the P&C is trying so goddamn hard to hide? Apparently not.
Instead, Will has chosen to attack the P&C for refusing to report a story that he himself refuses to report. I don’t know about you, but just trying to ponder how Will can rationalize this makes my noggin go all Amanda Bynes.
However, Will’s hypocrisy goes even further than this. After all, here’s a guy who is going all sex-nuts over The Post and Courier’s decision to hide valuable public information, when for the past three years, Folks himself has refused to release the details on his alleged sexual escapades with Nikki Haley, details which, if what Will claims is correct, would end Haley’s political career. But he hasn’t. And I’m betting he won’t. (As I’ve said before, I think the whole thing is probably nothing more than a one-time drunken make-out session and a whole lot of locker room boasting.)
So, Will, the time has come. Put on your reporter’s cap and find out exactly what the Post and Courier is hiding and report it to us. What little integrity you have left depends on it.