Times Scoop on David Paterson Reveals PR Struggle


After weeks of speculation, the “bombshell” profile about New York Governor David Paterson dropped today in The New York Times, on page A1, above the fold, no less.

Except, the profile is about David Johnson one the two close advisers that are giving the Governor bad advice, sources close to the administration say.

It was revealed that Johnson, at one time Paterson’s driver who worked his way up to a six-figure salaried director of executive services, is in fact a convicted felon, and may have problems with violence against women. The revelations were not enough to force Paterson’s resignation today as predicted in the meta-story that has been unfolding over the past week about what exactly the smoking gun was.

The meta-story of Times + tabloids vs. Paterson aside (you can review the chain of events on FishbowlNY), there are two PR-related elements that emerge: Johnson is definitely acting in a communications capacity, and the story itself was handled well by whomever is in control of Paterson’s image. The former, critics argue, has divided the staff and contributed to a deep hole Paterson has to dig himself out of if he has any hope for re-election against the well financed Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The latter part of the story puts named sources supporting Johnson against two unnamed “former officials,” and gives Paterson the last word, “I think in anybody’s history, you can come up with a couple incidents where they acted improperly. And this may, and I accentuate may, have been one of them.”

The story again allowed the Paterson PR camp to play draw-the-foul in the follow-up to the media story in a statement:

“The New York Times has chosen to splash his youthful offenses across the pages of its newspaper–even though the courts of our state have ordered them to be sealed.” “Mistakes committed during one’s youth are determined by law to be kept sealed for a reason–to give a young person a second chance at a productive life. I profoundly believe in this principle of redemption and giving young people a second chance.”

The statement again forced the Times to respond, “We believe the story was accurate and fair,” said Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty.

Regardless of the PR aplomb, Paterson, like our previous unnamed source explained, is cooked.

RELATED: Sources Conflict on Gov. Paterson Crisis Strategy