David Paterson

Mar 16, 2010 5:11 PM

The New York Post is published just where its name indicates, although some might think, from its fire-from-the-hip journalism, that it is in based in Deadwood, South Dakota. It says what it thinks, and pulls no punches.

Less than three weeks ago, in a story headlined, "Pack your dirty tricks and get the hell out," the Post fired a broadside at the governor of the state of New York, David Paterson. The piece, written by the paper’s Michael Goodwin, said the governor had "created a huge deficit of trust with the citizens of New York, then brazenly committed a firing offense." It said the accidental Democrat governor must follow his predecessor – the prostitute’s pal, Eliot Spitzer – "out the door and into the Hall of Shame." And it waved farewell, saying, "Thanks for nothing, gov. Goodbye and good riddance."

All that came about because Paterson had intervened in a domestic violence case involving a high official of his political entourage, and allegedly had ordered his state police to get mixed up in the matter. The Post said that action "proves he (Paterson) is unfit for the high office entrusted to him," and added, "The sooner Paterson hits the road, the better for New York."

He isn’t gone yet, but he has one foot out the door and will be steamrolled by Andrew Cuomo, the son of former governor Mario, if he gets that far, which is doubtful.

Paterson was not elected to the job. He moved in as successor when Spitzer, who came from a law enforcement background, confessed to being a client of a pay-for-petting pal.

Goodwin, writing about the former governor’s trysts with the tootie, called Paterson’s latest actions in the domestic violence case "an outrageous intervention that proves he is unfit for the high office entrusted to him," and concludes, "That’s it, case closed, game over.

All this follows the governor’s playing with political fire in awarding a 30-year, billion dollar baby to a bevy of friends parading under the name of Aqueduct Entertainment Group, and getting burned and smudged in the ensuing fire.

Last week the roof caved in, and when Paterson’s state Assembly leader, Sheldon Silver, joined the state lottery commission in saying they would not license the shaky and shady AEG, it collapsed.

So the saddest chapter in the comic book capers of a clueless legislature that has allowed this nonsense to drag on for nine years has been written, and a weekend story in the Post’s rival tabloid the Daily News now swallows whole a spurious story from Albany that Paterson’s staff is fashioning a "politics proof" selection process for once again trying to award the bountiful license to build and operate the Aqueduct racino.

The story said the final approval in the new selection process would rest with – guess who? – the governor.

It is highly unlikely Paterson will still be governor when that process is worked out, but it will matter little. The Aqueduct award smelled so bad that a sharp cookie like Steve Wynn, with one of the keenest noses in Vegas, quickly backed away from money, which is not his style, and withdrew his application for the huge bundle of cash awaiting the winner.

So did the project’s musical director, Jay-Z, and the powerful black minister and former politician the Rev. Floyd Flake, both withdrawing not voluntarily but from constant, relentless hammering from the Post and New York’s formidable battery of other newspapers, including the patrician Times.

If nothing else wholesome, the entire disgraceful episode illustrated dramatically that The Power of the Press is not an empty term. Happily, for the most part, it still exists, a double-edge sword that can kill as well as spare and save.

They may not hang another plaque on the Post’s crowded wall for bringing down AEG and the governor’s brazenness in this mess, but no one following the story can doubt the role the paper played.