South Carolina loves a scandal.

The NYT reports: Self-proclaimed “bad boy” blogger, Will Folks, has come forth saying that he and State Representative Nikki Haley (who is vying for Mark Sanford’s seat), had an “inappropriate physical relationship” three years ago. Haley was just blessed with a major endorsement from Sarah Palin, who quickly turned Haley’s controversy into another opportunity to play martyr on her Facebook page, writing:

When Nikki and I held her endorsement rally on the steps of the beautiful and historic South Carolina state house a few weeks ago, I warned her and her family that she would be targeted because she’s a threat to a corrupt political machine, and she would be put through some hell. That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast in politics today – especially for conservative “underdog” candidates who surge in the polls and threaten to shake things up so government can be put back on the side of the people.

Sarah Palin’s continued effort to hitch her wagon to anything that gives her a chance to look like the resilient victim aside, I’m fascinated to see how this scandal unfolds. We’ve been absolutely inundated over the last few years with infidelity scandals from all manner of elite men. While this kind of scandal makes lots of money for the tabloid rags and mainstream media outlets alike, it certainly doesn’t help anyone govern any better or foster a genuine dialogue about power and sex dynamics in contemporary America.
What will this kind of media hype look like with a woman in the position of power, potentially exploiting a younger, lower-ranking male staff member? Will the cougar stereotype abound? Will Haley’s integrity be questioned, as it was for Sanford, or will she be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter instead–the analysis tinged with slut-shaming and purity delusion?
Only time will tell. Meanwhile, Folks, who was a spokesman for Sanford, annually names the state’s “hottest newsbabe” on his blog. Wonder how all those disrespected media professionals are going to cover his claim? Word to the wise: objectification rarely wins friends, Mr. Folks.
Thanks to the Women’s Media Center for the heads up.

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