Gov. David A. Paterson suggested during a radio interview Friday that race has been a factor in his political woes.
Linking himself with President Barack Obama and other black office holders, Paterson suggested the “crescendo” of calls for him not to seek re-election is because he’s black. “We’re not in a post-racial period,” he said.
In the interview, Paterson blamed the media for an “orchestrated” effort to stop his re-election. “You don’t hear this crusade that it’s time for the governor to step aside. It’s a game, and people who pay attention know that,” he said.
Paterson said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the nation’s only other black governor, is also being treated unfairly because of his race. He also named President Obama as the “next victim” of racially tinged attacks involving the debate over health care. Paterson made the remarks on a show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis on AM 1600 WWRL.
Paterson issued a statement late Friday clarifying his remarks, saying “certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes.” In his statement, he said: “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; that is the nature of our business. What I did point out was that certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes.”
When asked about the stereotyping he was referring to, Paterson’s spokeswoman referenced a cable television talk show that claimed Paterson had been out at a nightclub at 1 a.m. In the interview Friday, the governor said he had been out, but was at a restaurant with his daughter and left around 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, political observers say voter dissatisfaction with Paterson is driven by the struggling economy, not race. Michael D’Innocenzo, former Democratic candidate for Congress, said Paterson is a victim of a bad economy and bad decisions. “Race is still an emotional trigger for people in our society,” D’Innocenzo said. “But I would say it’s far from being the major issue for Paterson.”