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Gov. Paterson: Somebody is after me

By Jason Kessler, CNN
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'Outrageous charges,' Gov. says
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Word of imminent New York Times story electrifies New York political, media circles
  • New York Gov. David Paterson on rumors: "None of this is true. It's a flat-out lie."
  • On "Larry King Live," Paterson suggests media should focus on motives of the sources
  • Paterson criticizes New York Times for its handling of the frenzy

New York (CNN) -- Those lurid rumors flying around about New York Gov. David Paterson? "None of this is true. It's a flat-out lie," he said in a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Larry King on Thursday night.

Since word of an imminent New York Times story electrified New York political and media circles last week, Paterson has been on the defensive. But day after day, the putative piece has failed to appear -- allowing gossip and conjecture to flourish.

Sex? Drugs? Graft? Theories about the article's focus have taken on lives of their own.

Asked whether the onslaught of rumors means "somebody (is) after you," Paterson was blunt. "Clearly somebody is. ... I won't kid you. I think I have thought about who might be after me."

He declined to name the suspects, but he encouraged the media to turn its focus from the whispers to the whisperers.

"Maybe those in the media might investigate why the sources are saying what they're saying."

During the sit-down, Paterson also knocked the Times for its handling of the frenzy.

Video: Paterson vows not to resign
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"The human decency, if not journalists' ethics, I think would compel an organization when they see a person being slandered for over two weeks now ... to clear the air and at least say that the charges that are being made are not in the perimeters of our investigation."

Absent a public clarification, the governor pleaded for the Times to publish its piece at once, "so I could be out of my misery."

It's not clear whether the governor will get his wish. He said that New York Times Albany Bureau Chief Danny Hakim, whom he identified as the writer of the article, told him he was not sure when it would run.

Paterson also blamed some of his plight on the fresh memory of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal, saying that his predecessor's dalliances conditioned the public to assume sexual misbehavior in the governor's office: "I think people have still a sort of sensitivity to that, to the point that people would tend to believe anything they hear these days." He added, "I think that's victimized me."

At one point, King teed up an opportunity for Paterson to say that the Times article will vindicate him, but the governor didn't swing.

King said: "And you're positive that nothing of this is ever going to come forward and prove true?" Paterson replied: "Asked and answered."

On the question of drug use, Paterson opted not to issue a new denial, telling King he had "denied that just the other day." Similarly, he turned down the host's offer to rebut the charges against him "one by one," saying, "I've already denied these charges in several media outlets."

He cited the need to deprive the rumors of momentum for his reluctance to engage in specific denials.

Between the accusations and deflections, the governor squeezed in a few jokes. Echoing a quip he made earlier in the week that "the only way I will be leaving office before (my term ends) is in a box," Paterson told King, if "you hear I've resigned, it means you're invited to my funeral."

The gallows humor continued later with a timely reference to former President Bill Clinton's heart episode. "I hope he comes on your show tomorrow to dispel the latest rumor, denying that I had anything to do with his heart condition," he told King.

 
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