Times’ Third Strike a Knockout: Paterson Says He Won’t Seek Full Term

It’s official: The New York Times has taken down the governor. In a televised speech this afternoon, David Paterson announced he would not seek election. His decision, reported earlier today by the New York Post, comes on the heels of a scandalous Times piece that caused allies to waver in their support and editorial boards to call for his resignation.

Paterson’s announcement marks the end of a weeks-long saga of rumor, disappointment, and finally delivery by the Times. Politicians and members of the media had been clucking about a potential career-ender as early as Jan. 30, when the Post wrote that Paterson would face a sex scandal. The next week, the Daily News wrote that there would be a major Paterson bombshell from a prominent news publication, touching off days of speculation as to the nature of the governor’s supposed misdeeds.

When the Times on Feb. 17 finally did publish something it was met with disappointment. Focused primarily on Paterson aide and unsavory character David Johnson, it didn’t seem to tie in directly to Paterson himself. Two days later, the Times came out with a second profile, again without any apparent teeth.

During the intervening week, the Times faced additional scrutiny thanks to a reshuffling of editorial higher-ups and the resignation of Dealbook reporter Zachary Kouwe. On Feb. 21, a defiant Paterson announced his intent to run for a full term in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

All that has faded after the Times published what has proven to be a devastating bombshell Wednesday night. Since the piece aired, tying Paterson and his security force to inappropriate intervention in a domestic violence charge by Johnson’s girlfriend, a senior member of Paterson’s administration resigned and his political allies began to publicly dissuade him from seeking office. And today, Paterson reversed his earlier decision to run, bowing out of the race, citing “an accumulation of obstacles.”

After weeks of doubt, the Times has proven, through Paterson’s decision not to run, that it can still tear down powerful political figures.