South Carolina State Representative Kenny Bingham (R-Cayce) has filed a lawsuit in Lexington County against Will Folks of FITSNews charging libel and slander.
The context of the suit was unavailable at this writing, but it likely relates to comments Folks published on his website including allegations that the representative benefited financially from state contracts.
Folks’ garnered national attention in 2010 when he claimed to have had “an inappropriate physical relationship” with then Representative and gubernatorial candidate and now Governor Nikki Haley. Folks produced no evidence to support his claim and, though widely disseminated, the accusation was dismissed by the voters. It is commonly accepted that Folks was paid to create the allegations in an effort to thwart Haley’s candidacy.
Folks is notorious for sensationalized blog posts in which he accuses public figures (and, sometimes, private citizens) of all forms of misdeeds. He will quote unnamed sources and suggest intimate knowledge of the inner workings of state politics. The consensus in Columbia, however, is that he doesn’t have the expanse of sources he claims and he tends to make up stories to promote his tabloid.
That isn’t to say he doesn’t have some contacts in government. There are those who actually use FITSNews to promulgate their own agenda, often for pay. One Representative is known around the State House to have paid Folks thousands of dollars to post positive items about him as a means to enhance his gubernatorial prospects in 2018.
Some in public service are rumored to pay Folks NOT to publish potentially damaging articles. Commonly known as extortion, it’s part of Folks’ shameless, self-promoting assault on South Carolina, which he regularly demeans and satirizes.
FITSNews has also been heavily criticized for “soft porn” content and sexism. Unfiltered comments by his readers are often laced with expletives and have included the most derogatory terms for women. Even though these comments may be directed towards named individuals, no effort to censor the language or admonish posters for them are evident.
Folks’ reputation for fabricating stories is legendary. Quoting “sources” (even, hilariously, “intelligence sources in Fairfax, Virginia“) Folks claimed in 2011 that this writer was working “behind the scenes” in South Carolina for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “to see if there is enough support for him to win” in the 2012 Republican primary. That, of course, was a lie. It turned out that someone fed Folks that idea as a joke and he manufactured a story for his website. The “intelligence sources” part was a particularly absurd touch. Although the perpetrators of the ruse admitted the prank, Folks never retracted the story or admitted he was duped.
Earlier this year, FITSNews published an article in which Folks tells of being warned that Rep. Bingham was fed up with his crap and was planning some sort of action.
Folks, in his usual style, wrote:
[Bingham has] been running his mouth all over the S.C. State House like a whiny teenage girl, telling anybody who will listen that he’s plotting his revenge against me for the articles FITS has written on a recent ethics complaint filed against him.
Rep. Bingham refused to comment for this article saying he would let the suit speak for itself. Folks, however, has said plenty. This past Saturday, Folks wrote that he was told by an unnamed “lawmaker” that “Kenny is about to come after you hard.”
Excuse me while I faux shudder at this penny ante politician’s impotent rage.
I swing a big stick … (in more ways than one). And while I admit that stick is often swung indiscriminately, I hit what I’m aiming at a helluva lot more than I miss. And I hit hard.
What do I mean by that, Kenny? I got “more ink than you got blood,” as the expression goes. Of course if you’d rather settle things “the Cayce way,” we can do that too mister chairman. Tell me the time and place and I’ll be there.
“I ain’t skeered,” as they say in your neck of the woods.
This childish bravado emphasizes two points of conventional wisdom regarding Will Folks.
First, he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Kenny Bingham, however, is a smart man. A very smart man. Smart enough to hire John E. Parker of Hampton, SC as his attorney.
Bingham is also a very successful businessman and engineer. One doesn’t become as accomplished as he has by being frivolous or impetuous. Nor is he a “penny ante politician.”
There are four engineers in my immediate family. I’ve worked for and with engineers and I’ve had engineers work for me. They approach problems and projects with meticulous preparation and are painstakingly faithful to the adage “measure twice, cut once.” This is not some spur of the moment idea by Bingham. He has, no doubt, carefully looked at the issue, surveyed the pros and cons and has mapped a strategy that is methodical and precise.
Nor is John Parker an 800 number ambulance chaser. If you survey those in the legal profession for the best libel attorney in South Carolina, most, if not all will direct you to Parker.
If anyone thinks this is a “penny ante” effort and not a serious legal pursuit, they are not paying attention.
Second, Folks’ “I got more ink than you got blood” statement along with “I’ve never had time for middle school threats from jilted little girls” nonsense speaks to a misplaced bravado. Folks no doubt believes he can intimidate Rep. Bingham. This may have worked with others, but he has picked a fight with the wrong man. When the prudent, adult thing to do on hearing of a potential lawsuit was to say nothing, Folks wrote “if he wants a fight, he better damn well get ready … because I am more than happy to give him one.”
Stupid is as stupid does. Will Folks has exercised his particular brand of dumbassery to the limit and, standing there waiting for him is Kenny Bingham. Bingham can’t be intimidated and, clearly, he doesn’t fear anything Folks might print about him.
Will Folks is about to get the FITS stomped out of him.