ABC's Jake Tapper was "carrying some water for producers" when he emailed Mark Sanford's office and complained about NBC's "slimy" coverage

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Fascinating article by South Carolina's The State about the behind-the-scenes media jockeying that was going on when the buzz began to build in late June that the state's governor, Mark Sanford, could not be located.

This was before his infamous press conference when Sanford admitted to an extramarital affair and before it was learned that Sanford had used taxpayer money to travel to meet his girlfriend. At the time, it was just a weird story about a governor who disappeared and whose staff could not find him.

Here's The State:

National media blitzed Gov. Mark Sanford's staff, offering big ratings and, possibly, a sympathetic venue in an effort to land the first interview with the governor after his six-day trip to Argentina.

In addition, a blogger and state leaders reached out to Sanford's office to try to coordinate a way to "push back" on the growing mystery surrounding Sanford's absence.

The behind-the-scenes maneuvering is detailed in e-mails released by the governor's office this week in response to The State's request under the freedom of information act.

Not surprisingly, conservative media outlets such as the Washington Times, the WSJ, and Fox News were angling for some friendly face time with the gov., and emailing his flak, Joel Sawyer. They seemed to suggest that Sanford was getting a bum rap in the press.

But note this passage [emphasis added]:

ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper e-mailed Sawyer twice on June 23, both to note coverage of competitor NBC.

With a subject line of "NBC spot was slimy," Tapper e-mailed Sawyer a "Today" show transcript of Sanford coverage, calling it "insulting." Later, Tapper forwarded Sawyer a Twitter post by "Meet The Press" host David Gregory.

The explanation?

Jeff Schneider, a vice president at ABC News, said Tapper was "carrying some water for producers who knew he had a relationship with the governor's office."

UPDATED: Tapper responds to Politico's Michael Calderone.

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