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Paterson to media: You clean up your act, too

ALBANY –- Gov. David A. Paterson is leaving Albany on a media-bashing blitz. Today’s installment has him likening reporters to Tammany Hall political hacks.

"This is the new political club," he said of reporters. "These people are not interested in reporting the news. They’re not even still interested in making the news. They want to run the government."

The governor’s latest criticisms of the media -– shared in recent "exit" interviews with news outlets, including The Buffalo News a couple weeks ago – came this morning on WWRL, a New York radio station.

The governor, leaving office in a few weeks, has been most critical of the Rumor Phase of his administration, which occurred earlier this year when speculation spread like wildfire of some sort of a career-ending scandal about to him. (What was eventually revealed were Paterson’s telephone calls to a woman who had accused one of his top aides in a domestic violence incident. Paterson then decided against running for governor this year. David Johnson, the aide accused in the still-unresolved incident, was terminated from the state payroll last month, the state comptroller's office said today.)

In his radio interview, Paterson portrayed reporters –- in a broad brush -– as more interested in revenge and getting their faces on television than truth-seeking.

"Anybody who speaks against them is castigated. Anybody who objects to the unprofessionalism is labeled. And what we know we have, in my opinion, is a situation where the dysfunction is in the media as well as the government," he said.

Instead of reporting or "keeping government clean," reporters have become publicity-seekers, he said. "They are on TV more than the elected officials. They have no standards at all," he said, while insisting he is not making excuses for his "colleagues" in government and, presumably, the problems Albany has witnessed at the Capitol in recent years.

"What you see going on now is absolutely outrageous," he said of the media. "And the media, who you think in the American value of competition, would question itself on occasion."

In response to a caller, Paterson also told the radio audience that he made mistakes in the debacle that became the 2009 selection process for a replacement for former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. That was the time when Caroline Kennedy put her name in the running, only to later drop out; sources close to Paterson told news outlets, including The Buffalo News, that Kennedy had some personal problems that forced her to bow out.

Paterson, who has lamented in the past the way he handled the Kennedy situation, said that she had been "insulted" and "castigated by people who worked for me."

In retrospect, Paterson said, he should have immediately fired "all people potentially involved ... in leaking to the media about her, which by the way was false information and gossip."

--Tom Precious


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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |