campaign desk

Need Some Help Climbing Out of That Mess?

NY Mag’s Chris Smith’s witty e-mail misfire
December 1, 2010

On March 1, New York Magazine reporter Chris Smith accidentally sent an e-mail to Paterson press secretary Marissa Shorenstein with the subject line “stair repair.” Parts of the message are redacted, but it looks like someone had asked Smith for his recommendation on a good stair repairman, and he responded with some suggestions.

Shorenstein, getting the message in error, wrote back to Smith:

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To which Smith replied, “oops. sorry, wrong e-mail number.” A few minutes later, Smith wrote back to Shorenstein again with this quip:

By “there,” presumably, he was referring to the chaotic and scandal-plagued Paterson administration. At the time, the governor was getting hit hard with criticism over his handling of an accusation of domestic violence against David Johnson, a top aide.

Looks like Smith was right that the press secretary could use some help. The very next morning, the New York Daily News published a piece about Shorenstein being used as a “pawn” in the coverup of the scandal, and that she was lawyer-ing up. A New York Observer piece about her later that day was entitled “the last flack standing” after many of Paterson’s team had already resigned.

Of course, she “climbed out” on her own, eventually: Shorenstein quit on March 17, becoming the fifth official to resign from the Paterson administration in the wake of the scandal.

Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner