One day we’ll all look back on the David Paterson/New York Times alleged expose and laugh about how desperate we all were for a juicy story in the middle of a long, cold February. For now though, we’re just trying to piece together how a story about a New York governor’s aide having a sordid history turned into a media spectacle about Governor Paterson having an affair. Here’s what we’ve come up with.
The Times story itself is a big deal: aide David W. Johnson (That is confusing!) used to be Paterson’s driver, now he’s pulling in six figures as one of the governor’s top aides. Meanwhile, he has a rap sheet of selling narcotics, hitting women, and in one instance, punching his girlfriend outside the senator’s office in Harlem.
So yes, this is a big story. But it’s not the big story: It’s not the scandal about David Paterson that the media has speculating on ever since John Koblin at The New York Observer Tweeted “anyone hearing about NYT bombshell on Paterson? Heard big, damanging story comin. been working for weeks, but still not published yet.” In the past two weeks, that one item has morphed into a sex scandal of John Edwards’ proportions: The New York Post ran a salacious headline about the non-story, Governor Paterson had to directly address the issue in a press conference, and Bill Keller from The New York Times issued a statement from the paper about the matter.
To think: All of this for a story that does not exist, which can either stand as evidence that new media allows information (real or false) to travel at such a never-before seen rate that we’re all basically playing one giant game of telephone, or as proof that New York media is really hurting for some gossip right now. Or both…no one said the technology and the content weren’t equally to blame for this gossip misstep. And hey, if it had been the National Enquirer that had floated this idea instead of someone from The Observer, no one would have given it a second glance when it turned out to be a fake lead.