09.28.2010 2

NY GOP Gubernatorial Challenger with Tea Party Appeal Portrayed as Unstable, Racially Insensitive

By Kevin Mooney — Let’s take this from the perspective of a reader who is not familiar with the Tea Party candidate running for governor of New York as a Republican. Carl P. Paladino comes across as an unstable, overly emotional man with no sense of style. You know a political race has taken an unexpected turn against liberal elites when the challenger earns an unflattering front page spread in The New York Times.

The first few paragraphs are laced with subjective comments and observations that serve to persuade rather than inform. The idea here is convince readers that Paladino lacks statesmanship. Never mind some of the immediate gubernatorial precedessors.

“Mr. Paladino, 64, a rumpled, weary-eyed developer from western New York, seemed to emerge from nowhere to capture the Republican nomination for governor, a political unknown who became a vessel for Tea Party-tinged anger against insiders and incumbents,” the report says. “But for decades he has been an outsize, impulsive and often outrageous figure: polarizing in his politics, relentless in amassing his real estate empire and irrepressible in seeking to impose his will on civic life.”

“Interviews with dozens of people who know him — friends, relatives, admirers and adversaries — revealed a highly emotional man who oscillates between cursing his enemies and crying over his friends’ sorrows, who believes in elbows-out confrontation no matter the cost and whose lifelong dealings with the government have fueled his enormous wealth and his bottomless rage,” the report continues.

The article then proceeds to review Paladino’s family history and early work experience, which is fair enough. But it concludes with a section entitled “The Style of a Bully” that is very one-sided and overloaded with innuendo. No Tea Party report is complete unless the race card is inserted in some form.

While in Buffalo, Paladino clashed with James W. Pitts, the city council president.

“Mr. Pitts was the ranking black official in Buffalo and Mr. Paladino’s efforts were denounced  as an attempt to erode emerging black political power,” The Times tells readers. “Undeterred, Mr. Paladino financed repeated charter-reform campaigns that sharply reduced the powers of the office that Mr. Pitts held.”

There’s certainly ample room to be critical where personal missteps have affected Paladino’s family relationships and private life. But there is nothing described in the report that is out of proportion with or even up to the level of many transgressions that involve career politicians in state houses and on Capitol Hill.

This could have been an informative and helpful news piece for voters who are unfamiliar with Paladino. Instead, the reporting is intermixed with too many ad hominem attacks to serve as a reliable source of straight news. Paladino should have been permitted to respond to at least some of the criticisms and attacks that his political enemies put into circulation. That’s not to say the negative comments should not be covered. But they should be balanced against rejoinders from friends and allies who are mentioned but not quoted.

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