Local Commentary: NY Times Smears Self Instead of Paterson

By Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk is an English teacher in New York and President of the Society of Classical Poets.
February 18, 2010 Updated: February 18, 2010

The New York Times on Wednesday released a much buzzed about article on an influential aide to Gov. David Paterson having a criminal past.

The aide, David Johnson, was arrested as a teenager for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. Johnson, now 37, was also involved in a misdemeanor assault in the 1990s, though the New York Times notes there is little information publicly available for the assault. There were also allegations that he punched a woman in 2001.

The question the New York Times has forgotten to ask in reporting this story is, “Is this really news?” The answer is a resounding no.

While Gov. Paterson’s administration and policies may be legitimately criticized, the New York Times article seems to be only interested in painstakingly waging a buffoonish smear campaign against the governor’s administration. The only integrity really in question from this article is that of the New York Times itself.

The New York Times, a democratic attack dog, is practicing the same dirty politics that lead popular Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh to resign this week and lead Bayh to call Democrat-controlled Washington “broken” and filled with “brain-dead partisanship.”

The real story is that Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is leading Paterson in the polls. The Democratic Party does not want to risk a loss to Republicans, even if it means a buffoonish smear campaign against Paterson. And, of course, the New York Times is on the prowl. What about the real issues for New Yorkers and the $8 billion budget deficit they are suffering? Paterson is actually taking the lead on closing this state-crushing gap, anyone who stands in the way is really worthy of smear.

It is no surprise that people in high positions and their aides do stupid and regrettable things. We can go no further than Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, who all tried illegal drugs and committed their fair share of stupid and regrettable things. That’s what being human is about, making mistakes and picking up the pieces to do a better next time. An aide to the governor is no different.

The most recent transgression that the New York Times could dig up on Paterson’s aide (not even Paterson himself!) was nine years ago. How about when the New York Times sent a reporter (Jayson Blair), who they knew had questionable ethics, to cover a story of national importance just eight years ago in 2002. The New York Times spread lies to its readers about the D.C. sniper story back then and they are spreading their own buffoonery now.

Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk is an English teacher in New York and President of the Society of Classical Poets.