Paterson rumor mill resembles journalistic game of telephone

Mike Riggs Contributor
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Rumors of a David Paterson expose in the New York Times took root last week and haven’t let go.

In anticipation of the Gray Lady’s scoop, Gawker suggested that the embattled New York governor might be exposed as a swinger, or at least a serial philanderer. A New York Daily News reporter called the impending story a “bombshell,” citing as her source “the rumor mill.” Business Insider wrote that Paterson would resign Monday, Feb. 8, following the publication of the Times piece, citing “a single source familiar with the goings on at the Governor’s office.” A fourth reporter passed along the “bombshell” angle as well, tweeting, “Anyone hearing about NYT bombshell on Paterson? Heard big, damaging story coming.”

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 9, and these are the facts: Paterson is still in office, his communications team has categorically denied that the forthcoming piece — which the Times has yet to publish — is a “bombshell,” and not one of the above-mentioned journos will say exactly where the salacious intel came from.

Most likely, it didn’t come from the New York Times, which has refused to speak about the upcoming story. (The paper’s reporters didn’t even sit down with Paterson until today.)

When asked if he stands by his aforementioned tweet, the Observer’s John Koblin told The Daily Caller in an e-mail, “Let’s just keep reporting and stick to the news.” Gawker’s Alex Pareene, who published the swinging rumor, wrote, “I don’t know for sure what the gov’s deal is, or what’s in the story, but what I wrote is what people in Albany believe the story is,” though didn’t mention who those people are.

Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News, source of the “rumor mill” and “bombshell” quotes — the latter of which has been republished on numerous sites, including Business Insider and WPIX — refused to comment. Joe Weisenthal at the Business Insider, who reported that Paterson would resign yesterday (another line that was picked up, sans attribution, by WPIX) has yet to return a request for comment. In the New York Post today, Fred Dicker also managed to recycle the gossip, writing, “Rumors have spanned everything from double dates without his wife to sex-and-drug parties at the executive mansion.”

The onslaught of anonymous rumors prompted Paterson to speak to the AP on Monday. “For the last couple of weeks I have been the subject of what, even by Albany standards, has been a spate of outrageous rumors about me,” the governor said.

A request for comment from Paterson’s office has not been returned.

The Atlantic has its own roundup of Paterson gossip.