The shoe that didn't drop

By this time, Will Folks assured his readers, someone would be vindicated by press accounts that he claimed would appear shortly about an affair Folks allegedly had with Nikki Haley, the South Carolina Republican running for Governor.  As the Daily Caller reports, though, the only press accounts extant at the moment concern the lack of evidence Folks has in supporting his claim.  Not only has a media exposé failed to materialize, the major media outlets now deny that they had anything in the works at all:

Will Folks claimed he was pressured to admit his extramarital affair with South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley last week because of a soon-to-be-broken news story detailing his “inappropriate physical relationship” with the Republican. But, a week later, that damning newspaper article is nowhere to be found. …

On his website, Folks insinuates the Columbia Free-Times newspaper was about to break a story about his affair with Haley, and indeed the newspaper itself has admitted one of its reporters did investigate such a rumor. But according to one knowledgeable source, while a Free-Times reporter did talk to Folks on May 13, no story was ever budgeted to run that week.

The reason? The Daily Caller has learned that around the time Sarah Palin endorsed Haley at a Columbia rally, an attorney for the paper advised editors not to run the story because the paper only had one source alleging the affair.

Folks did not return messages from The Daily Caller left on his cell phone and sent to his e-mail address asking him to name the news outlet that he says pressured him. But his blog mentioned last week that reporter Jim Davenport, the senior statehouse reporter in Columbia of the Associated Press, was also looking into the story.

“The short answer is no,” said spokesman Jack Stokes, when asked if Folks reacted to a potential story from the AP. Dan Cook, the editor covering the story at the Free-Times, did not respond to requests for comment.

Is this vindication?  Folks did release some text messages and phone records that showed a lot of contact between himself and Haley, but that’s not evidence of an affair.  Perhaps Folks honestly believed that someone was about to run a story, but at the very least, Folks has been shown to be wrong, if not entirely then at least about one key aspect of the story. That’s certainly reason for skepticism about the rest of Folks’ claims.

Unfortunately, there is no real vindication in stories like these.  Once someone has thrown out an accusation like infidelity, racism, or some other charge that’s impossible to prove wrong, that bell can’t be fully unrung.  That’s probably the reason that news media like those mentioned above avoided the story like the plague.  Their reluctance is like the shoe that didn’t drop in l’affaire Folks, and it should put an end to this sideshow.