Paterson Injects Race into Debate About His Performance

Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 7:15 PM EDT
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Paterson Injects Race into Debate About His Performance

Gov. David Paterson said Friday that the media has exploited racial stereotypes in coverage of him

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Gov. David Paterson said Friday that the media has exploited racial stereotypes in coverage of him, President Barack Obama and fellow black Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

Paterson issued a statement disputing reports that he accused media outlets of racism during a Friday morning radio interview. The governor denied that he intended to say that recent negative stories about him reflected racial bias, but he added that coverage of black officials hasn't been fair.

"My feeling is that it's being orchestrated, it's a game, and people who pay attention know that," Paterson said on radio station WWRL-AM in New York City.

He said even black media outlets "from our own community buy the public line, which is: 'We're going to get rid of David Paterson.'"

Later, Paterson issued a statement to clarify his on-air comments.

"At no point did I claim that this media piling-on effect was due to race — elected officials of all races get piled on by the media all the time," Paterson said in the written statement. "What I did point out was that certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes. That's not only unfair — it's wrong — and it sends an objectionable message."

"We have a long way to go to achieve a truly post-racial society," he said.

He said one stereotype was a tabloid report that referred to some black Senate staff members as people with thick necks. Paterson also referenced critical coverage of his appearance at a late-night night club event for BET, the Black Entertainment Television cable channel.

Paterson also said he is resisting political pressure to pull out of the 2010 governor's race. He took office in March 2008 after then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned during a prostitution scandal.

Stephen Crawford, a spokesman for Patrick's political committee, declined to comment on the story. The Massachusetts governor's press office didn't immediately comment on Paterson's remarks.

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