Why the David Paterson Story Actually Is a Big Deal


A reader writes! “Now are we to bombshell stage?” He refers to the third story the New York Times has run on David Paterson in the last week or so, which went up last night, rudely disrupting my dessert. The story detailed the hideous personal life of Paterson’s aide, David Johnson, whose girlfriend was pursuing a restraining order; Johnson and Johnson’s lawyer both refused service on the restraining order; the woman stopped pursuing the issue only after contact from the state police, whose jurisdiction is not such matters, and also a telephone call from the governor. Johnson was suspended last night; this is particularly troubling that this suspension occurred just hours before publication of this story, as a matter of reaction to scrutiny. So local opinion suggests that the answer to the question of bombshell status is “kind of.” But in part, based on what we still don’t entirely know!

There are, however, dissenters, who consider it “shocking” but not “gamechanging.” So, we have griped here about the Times’ previous murky references to Johnson’s Halloween-costume ripping assault on a woman. Now the paper has given us almost entirely what we wanted on that issue-they went and got the records!-so we will not quibble about this story; it wouldn’t be fair.

First, it does seem important to note that Paterson is not Johnson, even while they are extremely close. Part of the frisson of the story is simply that it’s Paterson-related. It’s highly Paterson-adjacent. And yet the story for the most part, it needs to be said even though it is obvious, is not about Paterson at all.

But here’s the part that is about Paterson.

Perhaps you have friends and coworkers with extremely objectionable personal lives! (I sure do.) Let’s try this this on for size.

Congrats, you’re the governor. And say one of your best buddies works for you. A woman is reporting an assault by him. You’ve met this woman three or four times. Do you… call her? And ask if there’s anything you can do for her? The day before her court date? With what motivation would you do that? I suppose I can see a way in which that was done out of common decency… but the timing, in particular, makes absolutely no sense.

The violent incident occured in OCTOBER.

The court date, the one that took place the day after Paterson made the call to the woman, was IN FEBRUARY.

That is extremely, obviously, highly problematic. That’s when suddenly you get an itch to call this woman to pledge your assistance?

And then, why would you later tell reporters that she called you, contradicting her lawyer’s statement that you called her?

And when a newspaper goes to talk to this woman, why would you then tell the paper that they are out digging for dirt on you? That doesn’t add up, unless it does add up.

And finally, referring to the incident between this woman and Johnson as a “bad breakup,” as Paterson did, is pretty unforgivable.