Report: NYT ready to drop scandal bombshell on New York governor

HuffPo’s got all the links you need pointing to a sex scandal, which makes the deja vu here doubly intense. (Paterson copped to infidelity on practically his first day on the job, but the rumors have picked up again lately.) The story’s not that politically interesting on the surface. Paterson’s headed for an unholy beating by Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary if he’s dumb enough to run again, so the only major fallout from this will be to convince him not to. But that presents the question: Could the story have been leaked to the Times by Democrats anxious about a primary fight that might weaken Cuomo in a tough November political climate? Come to think of it, wasn’t the White House reportedly leaning on Paterson to retire months ago? Hmmmmm. Watch your back, Deval Patrick!

The Albany Times-Union has the story of the non-story:

The last few weeks have brought two major eruptions of rumors concerning Paterson’s private life: reports of nuzzling at a New Jersey restaurant and being caught in semi-flagrante in a utility closet in the Governor’s Mansion — stories that Paterson and his press office have vehemently denied.

According to sources who have actually been interviewed for the Times’ story, its central narrative is the role played by members of Paterson’s inner circle in his personal and political activities.

Rumors about a possibly publication date for the story have ranged from Monday to today; the latest suggests Sunday, but it’s hard to believe that the Times would hold the story much longer when knowledge that it’s pending has put every other reporter in the Capitol and elsewhere on the scent. Possible reasons for delay include editorial fine-tuning and thorough legal review.

Rumors range from the sensational to more mundane abuse-of-power stuff involving state troopers who know too much about shenanigans at the governor’s mansion. My only non-deep thought about this is that I wonder to what extent the Times-Union and Daily News are feeling emboldened to speculate by the Enquirer’s success with the John Edwards expose. Respectable papers don’t want to drop the ball on the next political mega-scandal, so we’re probably going to see more risk-taking with speculation until, inevitably, some big rumored scandal story fails to materialize and everyone is chastened anew. Here’s to relearning lessons!