Governor Nikki Haley called in to South Carolina Radio Network’s Columbia affiliate Thursday as she explained why she refused to answer a reporter’s question at a recent press conference.
Haley was in Charleston Wednesday taking questions about her new ethics reform proposal. During the press conference, reporter Gina Smith of The State newspaper asked whether the governor had consulted with the Attorney General’s Office and State Ethics Commission. Haley promptly responded, “Gina, I’m not going to answer any of your questions. Anybody else?”
While she did not explain at the time, Haley later said she refused Smith’s questions because the reporter had recently written a story asking how the governor’s 14-year-old daughter landed a job in the Statehouse gift shop. That followed a March report filed by Smith, which quoted a political blog stating an indictment against Haley was “imminent.” (It was not)
“Respect is a two-way street,” the governor posted on Facebook Wednesday, noting she answered questions from other reporters.
South Carolina news outlets widely condemned the governor’s actions. “To refuse to answer those questions because of some personal animus or dislike… is not only petty and childish, it displays a frightening disregard and dismissal of the role of an independent, free press in holding our leaders accountable and in distributing researched and balanced news (rather than sound bites) to the public,” the editorial staff of the Myrtle Beach Sun-News wrote, in a piece titled “Grow Up, Governor.”
Even conservative radio talk show host Keven Cohen of Columbia station WVOC said Haley’s did not respond in the best way. “I think, under the circumstances, you should answer the questions from Gina Smith or other credentialed media if they’re going to be allowed into part of the media pool.”
The governor surprised Cohen by calling into his show Thursday. Here’s a clip, courtesy of Cohen (slight audio issues at 0:20-0:40):
AUDIO: Haley defends actions (2:08)
This is not the first time Haley has clashed with a reporter in public. Last year, the governor called Post and Courier reporter Renee Dudley a “little girl” during a radio interview after Dudley mentioned the large expenses incurred on a European trip by Haley and other state officials.