campaign desk

The Paterson E-mails

Flacking and reporting, through the rumors
December 1, 2010

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.

The Times asked if Paterson was caught in “compromising positions”

E-mails reveal early questions about women who were “not his wife”

So You Want to Talk to the Governor?

The word “promise” comes up

Dealing with the Times

Governor’s aides parry with their inquisitors

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One Night at the AP

Conflicting e-mails from capitol editor offer window into a newsroom conflict

How To Leak A Political Scoop

It starts with an e-mail…

A Lecture for the New Media Set

Kauffmann on John Koblin’s Tweet and “journalistic integrity”

“I will separate his head from his body”

Communications director wants to plug leak with machete

Governor Spotted With Four Women

None-too-pleased reporter forced to watch The View

Nicholas Confessore: Greatest Journalist Who Ever Lived?

Making up quotes is fun and easy

Rumor-mongering Is Wrong…Except When I Do It

Does NPR’s Ken Rudin see the irony here?

“Sorry About the Inadvertent Promotion”

Chris Smith’s error in NY Mag piece predicts the future

Need Some Help Climbing Out of That Mess?

NY Mag’s Chris Smith’s witty e-mail misfire

WTF! Where’s My Callback?

There’s time for a laugh in Albany

“Not Putting This In An E-mail”

She must have known

We wish to thank our counsel, Andrew Wittenstein and Mary Dontzin, and the rest of the staff at Friedman & Wittenstein.

Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.