February 14th, 2010
04:23 PM ET
13 years ago

Paterson slams the press over reporting on salacious rumors

Washington (CNN) – Rumors of personal and professional misconduct surrounding Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) swirled throughout the blogosphere and the New York media establishment this week to the point where the Governor himself was compelled to deny reports that he would resign. The Governor also addressed an illusory New York Times profile, for which the Governor was interviewed but has not been published as of Sunday.

Howard Kurtz criticized the media's behavior on Reliable Sources Sunday morning and asked: "How on earth do media organizations justify reporting what's essentially damaging gossip?" Two top New York reporters joined Kurtz to answer that question.

Marcia Kramer, chief political correspondent for WCBS 2 in New York, said she was aware that the New York Times was working on a story about the governor more than three weeks ago, but did not consider going on-air with what may or may not be in the Times story until the Governor himself discussed it during a press conference Tuesday.

"That becomes the story," Kramer said. "The governor decided that his strategy would be to talk about it to try to kill it. And, you know, once he started talking about it publicly...the hyperbole kept getting more and more and more… I mean, you had to cover it. I mean, he's the governor of the state of New York."

Paterson was a guest on CNN's Larry King Live on Thursday and said he believed somebody is out to get him. He, again, called rumors of his resignation "a flat out lie."

Joanna Molloy, veteran columnist for the New York Daily News said Paterson is acting "paranoid."

"He doesn't seem to understand the way that the blogs work now," Molloy said.

"First the blog put it up. Something called 'Business Insider' which is owned by a man named Henry Blodget, who actually was ousted from the finance industry by [former New York Governor] Eliot Spitzer. They put it up, as Governor Paterson said, in the first quarter of the Super Bowl. Huffington Post put it up shortly thereafter," Molloy explained. "If he got three phone calls during the Super Bowl, it simply means that people saw The Huffington Post posting.“

Kramer said the press had good reason to investigate allegations of improper conduct against the Governor because The New York Post saw Paterson at lunch in New Jersey with a woman other than his wife, dressed in what Kramer described as "a purple disco shirt." Paterson denied any wrongdoing, but Kramer said the Governor's explanation that the woman in question is a member of his staff and that he was on his way to a fundraiser for Haiti doesn't add up.

"That made the rest of the rumors take on a new credence," Kramer said. "Right as all the rumors about The Times investigating him came to fore, here was that headline and those pictures with that woman who really existed. So, that, in the court of public opinion, and also in the chattering classes, I would say, people felt, well, they had to check out the other rumors they were hearing."

The executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, told the paper's public editor in a column published Sunday morning, that addressing rumors "spreads them and gives them an aura of credibility, even if the intent is the opposite. For The Times to issue a statement saying, 'We are not investigating rumors about the sex life or drug use or financial shenanigans of Public Figure X' doesn't clear the good name of Public Figure X."

Kurtz questioned the ethics of the entire media establishment with respect to the coverage of Gov. Paterson. "I think this was a humiliating moment for the press, for the blogosphere, for all of us collectively, to report something based on a whisper of a rumor, of a possibility that a newspaper can report something really bad, perhaps devastating. But the story hasn't come out," Kurtz said. "I think this is Exhibit A in why people do not like journalists, and why they think that we go way too far when we don't have the goods."

Filed under: David Paterson • Reliable Sources
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    I don't know about those papers, but CNN has become the on-line gossips of the year. I can't watch any of them any more- except Fareed Zakaria.


    February 14, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. kravitz

    Too many reporters act like they're in a grade school, reporting gossip for major media salaries. Then act like they're paid to chase rumors instead of uncovering facts. Because rumors and groundless quotes are easier to retype. Facts are hard, and take more time to uncover and substantiate. Typing should be really, really easy.

    February 14, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. valwayne

    The White House wants Gov Patterson out! And rumors and innuendo were exactly the way they went after Hillary during the campaign. Who else could get the mainstream media to play this game? Its not Republicans....they'd love to have Gov Patterson as the nominee. So ask youself? Where and when have you seen this kind off dirty politics before. The answer is....against Hillary!!!!

    February 14, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Thank you Massachusetts

    Why should anyone be surprised. The press is in bed with the liberals and the liberals don't want Paterson to run for Governor again so they have to try to destroy him. I'm a Republican and I hope he runs, and almost hope he wins. Nah, he's still a Democrat and wrong thinking on some serious social issues.

    February 14, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Perusing-through


    I think Gov. David Paterson is a good man. But somewhere between the time Paterson took over for Eliot Spitzer until now, he lost his mojo and Paterson cannot get back his political support. Therefore Gov. Paterson should step aside and let another Democrat run for New York Governorship.

    February 14, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. S Callahan

    It leaves one to wonder how ethical the media is..it seems some of the media is in the pockets of politicians for smear campaigns. Shameful...... the articles out about Gov. Patterson are insane, misleading, and really void of any 'real' information...basically like neighborhood bar talk. That is sad...sad for NYS...sad for the ones creating insanity out of nothing.

    February 14, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Ken in NC

    I have no clue if rumors are true or not about Gov. Paterson but I do know from reading and seeing further evidence later that what was written was factually inaccurate, that the print media will hit and run with just about anything for the sake of having a story.

    February 14, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. GuyInVA

    Those are the worst kind of rumors, you know... the salacious ones.

    February 14, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |