In March 2010, CJR filed two Freedom of Information Law requests seeking e-mails between journalists and Governor Paterson’s two most senior press aides during the period of time when the The New York Times was working on an investigation that would lead to Paterson’s decision to drop his gubernatorial campaign, and when Albany was seized by rumors about what the impending bombshell would be.
The state denied our requests, and a similar request made by Gawker’s John Cook. After appeals and legal action by both Cook and CJR, the Attorney General’s office determined that it could not defend the state’s initial denials, and finally released the documents to us on the afternoon of November 24, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Gawker and CJR mutually agreed to delay publishing any reporting based on the e-mails until December 1. (Gawker’s take is here.)
We bring you a selection of articles and excerpts from the e-mails. Some are just for fun, but others reveal newsroom conflict, reporters angling for access, sharp elbows from the governor’s communications staff, or previously unknown aspects of the Times’s reporting. But they all have something to say about how reporters do their work.
We wish to thank our counsel, Andrew Wittenstein and Mary Dontzin, and the rest of the staff at Friedman & Wittenstein.