There's a lot of sputtering coming out of the Carl Paladino camp about the web site that broke the story about him sending racist and pornographic e-mail. Stuff like they're Democratic operatives -- or worse, liberal elites, gasp! -- who hacked his computer to obtain the e-mails. Yada-yaha-yada.
I happen to know the three fellows behind WNYMedia.net and spoke Tuesday to the head honcho of sorts, Chris Smith, about all the hell that's broken loose since they posted the e-mails Monday morning.
"We're usually good for one big thing a year, but we've never done anything this large," he said.
I guess not. The post was all over the media, capped by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC declaring Paladino "The Worst Person in the World," on his show Monday night.
That hasn't happened to anyone from Buffalo since maybe when the Bills' Ronnie Harmon dropped that touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns. Or maybe Wide Right.
But I digress.
WNYMedia.net has gotten almost 4 million page views since Monday -- which is especially impressive since Smith said the site was effectively shut down for about 12 hours Tuesday when a cyber attack overwhelmed its server and denied users access.
"Someone was trying to clog the ports people use to get to the site," he said.
Smith doesn't know who the guilty parties are, but my guess is you can't blame it on the Chinese. Nah, the guilty parties most likely have a photo of Richard Nixon, not Chairman Mao, on their bunker wall.
But I digress.
What about the charge that WNYMedia.net hacked Paladino's computer?
Being a reporter, I knew the answer to that question before I asked it. When people do stupid things and do it in writing, much less on the Internet, it comes back to haunt them. Guys like me make a living off such shenanigans.
But I'll let Chris provide the details.
"Carl sent out e-mails to thousands of people over a decade. It's pretty likely one of those people might forward them for media review."
Gee, ya think?
Is there more to come?
"We're trying to parse additional data and verify additional information," Smith said.
In other words, stay tuned.
Or, as Austin Powers once put it:
OK, how about the charge that the party responsible for the post is, in Paladino's words, "a Democrat elitist person who has another agenda." Or, as Carl's campaign manager charged yesterday, the report was nothing but a "liberal Democrat blog smear."
Let's take a look at this supposed Axis of Elitest Evil.
First, we've got the face of WNYMedia.net, Alan Bedenko, aka, the Buffalo Pundit. I read his blog every day and can tell you he slams Republicans -- when he's not slamming Democrats. I checked his voter registration and, sure enough, he's a Democrat. But wait, he was a registered Republican until late 2003 and later run for public office. Which means he changed parties several years before getting into politics, kind of like, well, Carl Paladino. Except the Pundit never gave money to Al Gore or Hillary Clinton, unlike, well, Carl Paladino.
But I digress.
What about this Marc Odien fellow? He's the in-house techie who wields a mean video camera, writes a blog and generally keeps the site humming. He used to work at WGRZ-TV News, which rules him out as a media elite. Plus, I can tell you from first-hand experience that he eats at cheap restaurants where they don't serve arugula. (Donn Esmonde had to spell that one for me -- a sure sign he is a media elite. He's got a good column today on the Paladino situation, by the way.)
As for Chris Smith, well, like Odien, he is a blogger -- and a registered Democrat. Ah-hah! But wait, he started out his voting life as a registered Conservative. Then he re-registered as an independent. En route to the dark side, he served in the Air Force.
Among what this trio has wrought on WNYMedia.net is a blog written by none other than Rus Thompson, a leader in the local Tea Party movement and a vocal supporter of one Carl Paladino. Rus hasn't done much with his platform since last fall, however.
So, as you can see, these guys aren't exactly the types to vacation in Berkeley, much less Havana. What they are are news entrepreneurs in pursuit of good stories -- and they got a hell of a good one in the Paladino e-mails. Carl and Co. can cast aspersions and try to change the subject, but it's akin to throwing punches in the dark -- few, if any, are going to find a target.
The bottom line to me is that the Paladino campaign is not challenging the factual accuracy of what WNYMedia.net has reported. In fact, it has effectively confirmed it, while at the same time saying "so what, everybody does it, can't anyone take a joke, it's no big deal."
As Paladino is finding out, a lot of people think it is a big deal, that dropping the n-word and passing along pornography -- including bestiality, for crying out loud -- is no laughing matter, especially when the perpetrator fancies himself as our next governor.
No one has expressed this with more outrage than the New York Daily News in an editorial today, in which it declared Paladino "a Grade A creep unfit to occupy a barstool, let alone the state's highest office."