Flashback: 2000 SC Presidential Primary and Palmetto Journal


As I’ve noted before, I started a news and political website about South Carolina called Palmetto Journal in 1998.  During the runup to the 2000 SC GOP Presidential Primary, the traffic for the site spiked, it was linked by Drudge, and I was in the spin room for the last debate prior to the primary.

In 2000, a columnist on the site reported on events at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport at an event for Senator John McCain when he arrived there the evening of the New Hampshire primary. The article isn’t accessible via the Internet Wayback Machine. Here’s what Etherzone.com said about it at the time:

The Insider is an off shoot of the Palmetto Journal, a Columbia South Carolina website. The Palmetto Insider, written by internet journalist Andy Jackson, broke the story Thursday morning February 3, 2000 of underage drinking at the McCain shindig. The McCain event took place at the Greenville-Spartanburg International airport early Wednesday morning following Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary victory. McCain scheduled a late night (early morning) rally where hundreds of young people had gathered. Apparently, beer was the free beverage of the day and according to the Palmetto Insider, some of the participants were “falling down drunk”. Further, several minors were intoxicated according to Jackson’s report.

The Drudge Report linked to the above piece with the headline, ““UNDERAGE DRINKING AT McCAIN EVENT.”

The server load was so heavy on PalmettoJournal.com that the site was slowing to a crawl. Drudge later put up a story on his site and used the title, “MCDRUNK: KIDS BOOZE OUT AT MCCAIN RALLY.”  At the time, the Etherzone story accused Drudge of ripping the story off from Palmetto Journal without credit. I put out a press release noting that while the site I was the publisher of had the story first, there was no proof that Drudge stole it. In hindsight, I suspect he was getting information from the same sources I had gotten it from and when my webhost’s servers slowed to a crawl he posted his own version,  which he later added more color to as he talked to more sources. 

Palmetto Journal aggregated stories and provided original content on political news and other items starting in 1998. While covering the 2000 SC Presidential Primary, I was credentialed and in the spin room for one of the 2-3 debates and I also got a call from Jake Tapper, then of Salon.com, when he was headed to SC to cover the primary and wanted to get the lay of the land.

Here’s the AP version of a story in The Spartanburg Herald-Journal from March 5, 2001. The original, longer version of the article was written by Aaron Gould Sheinin of The State (now with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)


Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton