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Groundless gossip: Gov. Paterson slams salacious speculations

Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.

The gov has even more questions: "Why instead would they [stir] up a feeding frenzy in which irresponsible journalists are printing absolute lies and unsourced allegations? Speculations are what might be happening, but for the public it all mushrooms together. After a while, people, because they hear lies long enough, start to believe them."

On a roll, Paterson continued, "In what dictatorship does a citizen, even if he is governor, get gossiped about for two and a half weeks, and when it is learned that none of the information is true, not one snip of it, that nobody is held accountable? There's no accountability. Now when government does something, there's always accountability: Why didn't he do this? Why didn't he do that? Well, this time I'm asking them, why didn't they show any integrity?"

Did he ask the New York Times these very questions?

"First my communications staff called them two weeks ago, and last week I called their political editor. On Monday I went to talk to the entire New York Times editorial board--and they told me that that wasn't their area. I spoke to the reporter and he said they're not responsible for the other media outlets. Other public officials and interested parties have contacted them and they have refused to comment. Other media outlets have called and asked them questions, and they have refused to answer the questions.

"All this time, they've been enjoying the popularity, being the center of attention, while a governor who is trying to do his job is being slandered."

In response to an Amsterdam News request for comment, Diane McNulty, executive director of New York Times Community Affairs and Media Relations, simply referred the paper to their cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com website. On the site there is being held a discussion on how "newspapers, blogs, reputable outfits and fringe gossip sites have worked themselves into a frenzy about a purported article in the New York Times that would be so scandalous as to compel Gov. David A. Paterson to resign. It has often been a self-feeding, self-referential frenzy."

Joe Sexton, the Times' metropolitan editor, said: "Obviously we are not responsible for what other news organizations are reporting. It's not coming from the Times."

"Where have you ever seen this type of vile journalism directed against a governor or any other political leader?" boomed City Councilman Charles Barron. "These are unsubstantiated claims against Gov. Paterson, and yet they are repeated as news and facts with more vitriol than any of the known cases like a Clinton or Spitzer. The assault on Paterson is unwarranted, and yet it is mirrored by the similar, ongoing attack on our Black president, Barack Obama. Race is most definitely a factor."

"I've seen a lot of journalism that I thought was improper in my time, but I can't remember ever seeing anything like this," Paterson noted about the intense and relentless media coverage, which has had him berated on the front pages of the city's tabloids. "And in addition, I think that a media outlet has an obligation to the public as much as to an individual [to ensure] that mere rumoring and gossip is not destabilizing the government."