Carl Paladino: Bold New Experiments in Media-Bashing and Making Stuff Up

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 30 2010 9:09 AM

Carl Paladino: Bold New Experiments in Media-Bashing and Making Stuff Up

So here's the background. Carl Paladino, the GOP's surprise nominee for governor of New York, is either losing by a little or a lot to Andrew Cuomo. He took a hit this month when it was revealed that he had a daughter from an extramarital affair. His response, so far, has been to make an evidence-free accusation that Cuomo had "paramours" during his marriage to Kerry Kennedy -- a marriage that ended after she had an affair. Asked for evidence by the New York Post's dogged Fred Dicker, Paladino erupted.

"You're his stalking horse," said Paladino, "You're his bird dog. Send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Now, it's not clear what the hell Paladino is talking about. The Post's coverage of Paladino's daughter, Sarah, has not been written by Dicker. The paper has not been "sending goons to his daughter's house," but it ran a story on the woman Paladino had an affair with, complete with photo and a final line about an irate Paladino threatening the reporter who worked on that story. All of this, plus a confrontation between Paladino's staff and Dicker -- with campaign manager Michael Caputo promising to cut off Dicker's access -- was filmed.

Now, here's the punchline. Breitbart.tv publishes the video with the headline "Reporter Goes Wild at NY Gov Candidate's Press Conference." The Paladino campaign sticks by its story that Dicker was biased for Cuomo and the New York Post went over the line in reporting the love child story with a photo. This is some highly concentrated anti-journalism. If conservatives outside New York are just discovering Dicker and think they see a new Dan Rather, they should listen to Dicker grilling then-Gov., now Slate columnist, Eliot Spitzer.

This is bold. It's a bet that Paladino can make baseless accusations, piss off the media, and benefit from voter anger instead of having the attack backfire. That's a bet Alan Grayson lost this week in the backlash against his "Taliban Dan" TV ad, but does it work for conservatives?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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