Tuesday 8 p.m. An anonymous caller tells The State that Sanford was seen on a flight last week from Atlanta to Buenos Aires. The newspaper, months before, had received e-mails that purported to be romantic exchanges between Sanford and an Argentine woman. The e-mails could not be authenticated at the time.
About 11 a.m. The State informs the governor's office it has the e-mails that detail an extramarital relationship. Sanford already had called a 2 p.m. news conference.
So Sanford had already announced the 2pm press conference. It's possible he planned to come clean even before The State showed him the emails -- according to a source, the paper contacted both Sanford's office, and Tom Davis, his former chief of staff, who the paper had worked with before -- and made clear they had the goods on him.
But it's also very possible he planned to stick with the rather far-fetched tale he had spun at the airport: that he had planned to hike the Appalachians but decided at the last minute to go to Argentina, and that he spent the time there alone, driving along the coast. Only the emails eventually convinced him the gig was up.
Perhaps Sanford does deserve some credit for speaking with a certain degree of honesty about his feelings yesterday. But it's hard not to suspect that, if his hand hadn't been forced by the combination of the emails themselves and the tip about the flight to Argentina, we'd all still be in the dark about the true story.