State’s ‘discerning eye’ a bit blurry

06/24/2010

South Carolina’s political climate is poisonous enough without the media doing dirty work for the state’s party-obsessed hatchet men.

Take The State’s article on Florence County Councilman Ken Ard’s victory Tuesday over Bill Connor in the runoff for the Republican Lieutenant Governor’s nomination.

The State begins its piece by giving the result of the runoff, informing readers that Ard will face Democrat Ashley Cooper in the November general election and includes a nice quote from Ard about his victory being an example of the American dream being alive and well.

It then adds that Ard campaigned advocating accountable, lean and efficient government as the best formula for greater individual liberty and increased economic opportunity.

After a short description of Cooper, The State then lets one of Cooper’s advisors tee off on Ard.

“We congratulate Councilman Ard for his victory tonight,” said Lachlan McIntosh, Cooper’s senior advisor. “Councilman Ard has proven over the years to be a skilled and shrewd politician. After all, just a few years ago, he led the charge to raise the sales tax in Florence, yet still claims to be for lower taxes.”

McIntosh continued, “Ard does not represent the change South Carolina desperately needs.”

Cooper has more than four months to make his case against Ard. Why The State felt it was necessary to take this occasion - likely the biggest political victory of Ard’s career – to give his opponent free rein to take unsubstantiated cheap shots is perplexing and embarrassing for a paper that prides itself on its coverage of state politics.

If The State truly wants to help South Carolina voters see through the smokescreens put up by both Democrats and Republicans, it would do well to go easy when it comes to reprinting the mindless soundbites that consultants and advisors whip out at a moment’s notice.

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