Shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday, Smith went to the airport. Shortly after 6 a.m., she met a surprised Sanford. Smith was the only media member there.
Sanford said he had just arrived from Argentina. He also said he had not been on the Appalachian Trail.
When asked who he had been with in Argentina, the governor cut off the interview.
By 7:30 a.m., thestate.com had broken the news that Sanford had not been on the Appalachian Trail, but in Argentina.
In their morning meeting, State editors decided to immediately inform the governor and his inner circle about the e-mails. .
A reporter called a Sanford staffer, saying the paper had e-mails that outlined an affair between the governor and Maria. Unless Sanford would address the issue privately, The State would have no choice but to ask him — with TV crews filming — if he knew Maria at his press conference that afternoon.
The names of two other women tumbled into the newsroom.
Fearful Sanford’s staffers did not get it — that the paper would ask publicly what Sanford’s relationship was with Maria — a State editor called Davis, Sanford’s former chief of staff.
Davis, a Beaufort lawyer, recently had been elected to the state Senate. When called, he quickly said he no longer worked for Sanford.
The editor said he knew that but wanted to talk with Davis. Sanford had landed from Argentina, and the paper had e-mails about an affair with a woman in Argentina.
The editor told Davis why he thought the e-mails were genuine. They mentioned Coosaw, the Sanford plantation, and Sanford’s love of digging holes; they quoted Bible verses and contained details about Sanford’s known schedule.
And more names of women were coming in over the transom. The total was at three and counting.
“Women?!” Davis responded, sounding incredulous. “Women?!”
The editor repeated that the paper would ask Sanford publicly about Maria with TV cameras running. Jenny Sanford and the couple’s four sons should be spared that image, and it was up to Davis to ensure Sanford’s staffers “got it.”
Davis, who said he was in Beaufort, promised to call Sanford’s staff and call back.
When he called back, Davis said he was driving to Columbia.
Now actually there are some ethical questions you have to ask about "The State" too here. Why were they so intent on giving the Governor a heads up? Why did they go out of their way to make sure Sanford's staff "got it". And even if you buy that they were trying to protect his wife and kids, once the cat was out of the bag, why didn't they ask any questions about the other 3 names that had come into the news room?
Regardless I think its apparent now that Sanford was doing anything noble. He was just taking advantage of the opportunity to come clean that The State granted him when they gave him his "heads up".