Two weeks ago, rumours swirled that the New York Times was working on a “bombshell” story about New York Governor David Paterson. One source told us the story was so devastating that it might lead to the Governor’s resignation.
For a week, as the media screamed, the New York Times remained silent, publishing nothing.
Then, finally, a few days ago, the paper published a mildly interesting but largely irrelevant account of how one of Governor Paterson’s closest aides had been arrested for selling cocaine as a teenager and had the cops called on him a couple of times for domestic disputes. A bit sexy and curious, perhaps, but hardly a “bombshell.” And hardly resignation-worthy.
But now the New York Times has struck again. And although the new story does not contain a vivid scandal, its effect may be just the same: It’s a devastating indictment of Paterson’s effectiveness as a governor.
Basically, the story portrays Paterson as a lazy, out-of-touch party-boy who doesn’t care much about the job. It also portrays him as dishonest.
Here’s one anecdote, illustrating the Governor’s habit of not showing up for long-scheduled events, as well as what may have been a fabricated excuse for cancelling at the last minute:
Last May, Mr. Paterson was lined up to speak in Manhattan at the evening graduation ceremony for Teachers College, Columbia University. It was kind of a makeup: he had agreed in 2008 to be the speaker at the same ceremony but canceled at the last minute because he needed emergency eye surgery.
University officials were surprised last year when Mr. Paterson canceled again, with just two hours’ notice.
“The second time, it was going to be kind of like closure,” said Joe Levine, a spokesman for the college. “I don’t really know why he didn’t come.”
He had to cancel, the governor said, because of an emergency terrorism briefing. The Times requested the names of others who attended the briefing, or other evidence that the briefing had occurred, but Mr. Paterson’s office declined to provide any.
Mr. Paterson said that the next day, he called the president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger, to explain what had happened, though Mr. Bollinger, through a spokesman, said he could not recall such a phone call.
Two people with knowledge of the matter said that the governor had not wanted to travel to Manhattan for the ceremony, wishing instead to stay in Albany that evening and gather with friends there to celebrate, since it was the night before his 55th birthday.
This, along with the rest of the details the New York Times has dug up, make Governor Paterson seem as unfit for office as any sex or drugs scandal would. Given that Paterson tried personally to neutralize the NYT’s story–and failed–we imagine he’ll be unable to make an effective case against it now that it’s out (or, more importantly, on the campaign trail). So at this point, scandal or no, he might as well resign.
So there’s your bombshell.
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