Who Really Outed Mark Sanford?
The State newspaper briefly explains in today's coverage of its blockbuster exclusive on Gov. Mark Sanford's secret getaway to Argentina and his extramarital affair why it sat on the story for six months.
In a nutshell: State journalists were unable to contact the woman in Argentina with whom the South Carolina governor was corresponding via e-mail. The newspaper obtained the e-mails back in December. But when reporters there reached out to "Maria" to verify the authenticity of the steamy love e-mails, they never heard back from her.
The juiciest nugget in the tale of how the paper got its scoop appears in today's New York Times. The Times reports that this week, on Tuesday, the State got an anonymous tip that led one of its reporters to find Sanford in the Atlanta airport.
A supposed airline passenger - or, hmmm, could it have been a private investigator? - told the State: "We've seen your governor on an airplane. He's not on the Appalachian Trail." And the tipster suggested the governor would be returning from Argentina, the Times said.
That's when editors at The State sent Gina Smith to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to find Sanford.
Smith herself, in a first person account of her interview with the governor at the airport, writes today that she couldn't believe she was the only reporter there to meet Sanford.
Here's what she writes:
"And why is there no other media here?" I wondered. "Could we be the only ones onto this story?"
It's how you think when you're playing a hunch, following an anonymous tip that Sanford would be on the plane and anonymous, unverifiable e-mails about an alleged affair between Sanford and woman from Argentina.
Intriguing. She says the tipster told The State that Sanford "would be on the plane." And according to the Times, the tipster claims to have seen Sanford on the airplane - presumably on the flight from Buenos Aires that arrived in Atlanta Wednesday morning.
So the tipster had to be someone who knew about the South Carolina governor's bizarre disappearing act and knew what he looked like. Or, perhaps the tipster was someone who had a vested interested in tracking Sanford's whereabouts.
And of course there's the even bigger question: Who sent the e-mails - from Sanford's personal e-mail account, no less - to The State newspaper in the first place? Seems to us like someone was mighty intent on outing the South Carolina governor for his philandering ways.
Also today, in case you haven't seen them, The State released the full contents of the love e-mails between the governor and his beloved Maria.
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