Unanswered in the controversy surrounding the mysterious emails sent to The State newspaper detailing SC Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair with an Argentine woman is why the paper didn’t approach the governor himself.
According to the paper, about six months ago The State received copies of e-mail messages from an anonymous source that were supposedly exchanged between Gov. Sanford’s personal e-mail address and a woman named Maria in Argentina.
“Reporters sent e-mails back to the originating e-mail address and to the woman, whose e-mail address was included, in an effort to verify the messages were genuine,” the paper wrote. “They never heard back. A second round of e-mails also failed to get a response, so the paper did not publish them until Wednesday, after Sanford admitted having an affair.”
Remarkably, there’s no mention of whether anyone at the paper approached Sanford regarding the emails. That’s hardly the kind of sleuthing one would expect from a newspaper that once prided itself on its state government coverage.
Now it seems unlikely Sanford would have come clean if The State had bothered to question him about the correspondence, but it’s hard to fathom why the paper didn’t at least make the effort to check the allegations with one of the two individuals who were directly involved.
No one expects The State to have published the emails without verification, but failing to follow up a tip on what’s become the biggest story in South Carolina politics in a long, long time is inexcusable.