South Carolina political blogger Logan Smith launched his website, Palmetto Public Record, about four months ago.
In doing so, he left behind community journalism to take on the state’s intense political scene.
“It’s been kind of slow getting sources, tips and more importantly, readership,” Smith said. “But that all changed yesterday.”
Smith’s website crashed Thursday due to the thousands of visitors who were reading his stories about an IRS investigation of the Sikh temple led by Gov. Nikki Haley’s father and — as Smith reports — Haley’s looming indictment for tax fraud.
Conservatives attacked Smith’s reporting on social media, saying he should have named his sources when alleging something as serious as indictment.
But Smith says the social media reaction just shows how uncertain people are about Haley.
“It’s indicative of how worried everyone is of this governor’s reputation — that they would be so up in arms,” Smith said.
But conservatives weren't the only ones handing out criticism. CNN political reporter Peter Hamby criticized Smith’s story, calling it “thinly-sourced.”
“REPORT: Journalists seen re-tweeting and citing thinly-sourced web item about possible Nikki Haley indictment without making phone calls,” Hamby said on Twitter Thursday.
But Smith stands by his sources and his story.
“I feel that my sources are reliable and I wouldn’t post anything if I didn’t,” he said.
As a journalism student at the University of South Carolina, Smith covered the Statehouse for the school’s Carolina News program.
USC journalism professor Harvie Nachlinger, who taught Smith in introduction to reporting and in senior semester, said Smith was an “excellent student.”
“He was a very good student and very well-versed in journalism and keeping opinion out of news stories,” Nachlinger said.
After graduating from USC, Smith worked at WIS-TV, Columbia's NBC affiliate, for five years. He left in December to start Palmetto Public Record.
Smith said he wanted to balance out South Carolina’s conservative-leaning political blogosphere — specifically Will Folks’ FITS News. He said he was also ready to jump into the state’s ever-changing political scene.
“South Carolina has a unique political system in that it’s just very politically or emotionally high-charged,” Smith said. “There are just so many stories.”
While he does describe himself as a “progressive,” Smith says he has no personal reasons to go after Haley.
“Obviously, people are going to take a look at my site and say, ‘Well, he’s writing about more Republicans,’” Smith said. “Well, yeah, you can’t throw a stone in South Carolina without hitting a Republican that’s under investigation. If I get as many incriminating documents about a Democrat, I’d run with it.
“I’m just reporting what I hear and what I see, and let the chips fall as they may.”