It’s entirely possible the now weeks-long debacle over the rumored but not-yet-seen NYT “bombshell” story about New York Gov. David Paterson may end up being the best thing that ever happened to him. New Yorkers love nothing more than public figures who give as good as they get and Paterson has certainly been doing that this week with a full court press pushback that landed him on Larry King last night. Here’s part of the exchange (video after the jump). Who knew we had a Governor who read Kafka!
KING: So nothing’s been printed. So?
PATERSON: They didn’t start the rumors when they sat down with me for an hour and a half to talk about the profile piece. They did not ask me questions about any of this. But I would think — look, I’m going to leave for the journalist like yourself and other analyzers of the media to come to a conclusion.
I’m not a journalist. But I am an elected official. And I think I have a right to say this. The human decency, if not journalists ethics, I think would compel an organization when they see a person being slandered for over two weeks now — I’ve been waiting for three weeks for this article to come out — to clear the air and at least say that the charges that are being made are not in the perimeters of our investigation.
KING: So you’re saying “The New York Times” should print something tomorrow?
PATERSON: I wish they would so I could be out of my misery because the reality is that these charges have been unsubstantiated. They are speculations. And Larry, it’s like a Kafka-esque scenario that –
At which point King interrupts to give Paterson the opportunity to “set the record straight” to which Paterson says: “I already have!” (Short version: There was no canoodling.)
Shortly thereafter, Larry wants to know if perhaps there is some sort of conspiracy against the Gov.: “Do you think it’s some sort of plot, conspiracy against you? A group, a person, an — what?” Paterson, to his credit is not willing to go that far. Though it’s fairly clear to anyone who spends a significant amount of time online that of course there’s a conspiracy against the governor! It’s called the Internet page view conspiracy. Something the New York Post perfected a long time ago and is now de rigueur online. Politco makes at least half its bread and butter these days by fueling story lines of their own creation. Not to mention — back in the land of reality — New York State is still recovering from the last NYT “bombshell” story that took down a governor, though it that case the story actually appeared in print.
So what’s the solution here? NPR’s David Folkenflik talked at some (very smart) length on Office Hours yesterday about the predicament the New York Times finds itself in. Should they print the story already, or does that put them in the position of being a bit PR firm for the Paterson. Folkenflik said something to the effect that the Times should not be in the habit of making public statements about their story subjects. That said, they are the New York Times, and the have more clout to make or break a career than any media outlet anywhere, so perhaps they do have a responsibility at some point to reign the rumors in. Either way, it’s a good reminder to know that newspaper journalism (or rumors of it!) can still pack a punch.
>>>NEXT: Video of Paterson on Larry King.