Open Thread: Paladino, The Press, and Charges of Adultery

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The New York political community is buzzing over a confrontation caught on tape between gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and New York Post State Editor Fred Dicker. Dicker confronted Paladino over his insinuation that Andrew Cuomo had an extramarital affair. Updates below: Brian Lehrer's take, Paladino response, and the latest on the allegations at the heart of the confrontation.

WNYC's Azi Paybarah reports on The Empire:

When reporters confronted Paladino seeking evidence, Paladino declined, and went on the offensive, declaring his own daughter – who was the product of an extra-marital affair – off limits to the media.

You send another goon to my daughter’s house and I’ll take you out, buddy,” Paladino said to New York Post state editor Fred Dicker. “You’re his bird-dog.”

Paladino’s campaign manager went further, telling Dicker flatly “You’re working for Cuomo.”

Our own Brian Lehrer adds his reaction:

We don’t know who provoked whom before the camera rolled, but to my eye, in the clip as we have it, Fred Dicker comes out looking more like the aggressor here. Paladino and his people don't exactly look like statesmen either, making Cuomo adultery charges without substantiation, but Paladino walks away and Dicker bears in.

I'm not sure it will even be a political minus that Paladino says he'd "take you out" for photographing his ten year old - less an actual physical threat than a protective parental instinct. Michael Dukakis lost the 1988 presidential election partly for failing to show emotion when asked about a hypothetical rape or murder of his wife. Not that a photographer is the moral equivalent, but Paladino probably wins this mano a mano moment. Of course, he's not running against Fred Dicker...

Governor Paterson had this to say on WOR radio this morning:

It sounds to me as if he’s having trouble coping with the pressure that it takes to be a governor or to run for governor.

The Paladino campaign sent out this defense of Carl Paladino's today:

The New York Post sent a photographer to the Buffalo home where Carl Paladino’s 10-year-old daughter lives with her mother. This
photographer attempted to take photos of the child through the windows and subsequently attempted to follow the girl to a playground.

We believe this conduct puts Carl Paladino’s daughter in harm’s way, susceptible to kidnapping or sexual predators. This behavior by The
New York Post and their senior political editor Fred Dicker is unacceptable. Endangering the safety of a 10 year-old child is repugnant.

Carl Paladino is passionate about the need to clean up the mess in Albany. The only thing he is more passionate about is his family. Carl
is deeply concerned about the privacy of his children and grandchildren.

Paladino now claims that he was never accusing Cuomo of extramarital affairs. He told the Buffalo News:

I'm sick and tired of people asking me about if I've had affairs. I was talking to [] and said 'why don't you ask Andrew Cuomo if he has had extramartial affairs. It's not that I was accusing him.

Brian Lehrer's reaction to this latest piece of information:

Paladino’s admission that he had no evidence of a Cuomo affair puts the video in a whole new light. Instead of looking like a man defending his daughter’s honor against aggressive tabloid paparazzi, he now looks like a lying thug perpetrating a phony smear campaign.

Watch the video below, and give us your reaction. How much should a candidate's private life be part of the debate? Who was over the line, Paladino or Dicker?  Chime in, the comment

Update: Several versions of the video have been recently taken off youtube. If the video below does not play, here is a search that will likely yield results.

Video courtesy of Capital Tonight


More in:

Comments [20]

My view is between Brian Lehrer's and OZ's.

I think that Palidino's aggression may be a positive with many voters who are, understandably, so angry.

They may feel he is taking charge and his anger shows how fed up he is also with Albany, Congress and even the media.

I believe, however, voting for him would be against their interests. I do not support Cuomo either.

Oct. 01 2010 10:39 AM
OZ from New York City

Brian, your feeling that Paladino's comment - "I'll take you out..." may not be a political minus, in my opinion is way off, or at least I hope it's way off. I came into this post not having heard you show, and the one thing that really stood out for me was that one comment by Paladino. Is that any way for anyone to talk? To resort to mob-like threats, to me, says it all about this man. I know little about him, but I do know he is not a man who should even consider public office. If your opinion of it having no negative effect is right, then I fear for our state, and in a larger sense, our nation.

Oct. 01 2010 12:50 AM
Debby from Long Island, NY

The problem as I see it, is that the right wing is always preaching morality and family values except they don't practice what they preach. Carl Paladino cares so much about his family and yet he has a child out of wedlock. Sara Palin also preaches family values and yet where was she when her daughter was getting pregnant while in high school. These so called "conservatives" can all talk the talk but can't walk the walk when it comes to their own lives. They make me sick!

Sep. 30 2010 03:49 PM
Kimberly Wilder from Long Island, NY

I think that Dicker and Paladino were both very wrong on a lot of levels.

I think that if anyone wants to know who "started it", then they should look at who walked into the other person's physical space first. It is not right to get physical.

It is a difficult situation to deal with a candidate who has a child who is definitely his, but is not in his nuclear family. It matters that someone has a child, and how they do or do not provide for that child. The public can't help wondering about the implications on someone's character.

Maybe the best thing would be for a "deal" to be made, specifically between the Paladino campaign and the NY press. Or, else, just have the Paladino campaign reach out and offer information once in a way that satiates the public and press appetite for acknowledgment/explanation of the situation.

For instance, maybe Paladino should go on record saying he has a child who was born out of wedlock. And, that he has or had a mistress. Explains the situation once, gives the names and pictures, and then asks the press to be done with it. Then, it is "on record" and not hidden. But, not fodder for constant prodding, and not the press following a little girl around.

Paladino is unwittingly serving the community of cultural conservatives. He is giving a really good object lesson in why men should not have sex with people other than there wives. There are layers of consequences that fall down upon a man who does so, and his child. And, all the yelling in the world cannot fix all the consequences.

Very sad situation.

(Something makes me think the whole situation might be so untenable, Paladino may have to resign. Short of a very elegant resolution with the press, the situation seems like the choice of resign or have your child harassed.)

Sep. 30 2010 01:16 PM
Paul I. Adujie from New York, United States

More evidence or proof that Carl Palladino is not fit for public office. And that he should not be elected governor of the great state of New York.

He is racist, sexist and a thug!

Sep. 30 2010 12:56 PM
Amber from Washington, DC

Mr. Lehrer from your comments and from listening to your show, you're not much of a hard-hitting journalist. Timid talkers stay in the safety of their studio commenting on the hard work of real journalists.

Love or hate reporter Fred Dicker, at least he had the guts to get confront Carl Paladino with an important legitimate question. More reporters need to ask the tough questions. Journalists aren't in the business of being liked. They're supposed to be acting as the fourth estate and as true watchdogs holding those in power accountable for the things they say and do.

Paladino had earlier made a strong unsubstantiated accusation against his opponent, Andrew Cuomo, to try to deflect and spin the media.

Like other far right-wing Republican candidates this election such as Sharon Angle, Paladino is avoiding reporters. He is a very wealthy bully who, as his walking with an actual pit bull shows, feels entitled get his way. Sarah Palin advised Christine O'Donnell to speak through Fox News, Sharon Angle literally runs away from the media.

Mr. Dicker let his temper and pride show a bit, but his aggressive pursuit of confronting the powerful is admirable. If more journalist had it, newspapers and television journalism wouldn't be in the predicament they are in today. More importantly, rich and powerful people whether they be politicians, entertainers, or business people, would not be able to spin the public and play the media like chumps as they have been for years.

Sep. 30 2010 12:50 PM
Gary from the Village from NYC

I used to work as an Albany reporter in the late 1980s and knew F. Dicker to be an a-hole no matter who he was talking to. He was not particularly friendly to Mario, if I recall. Mario hated to be asked difficult questions and Dicker was always prepared with one.

But now he turned a legitimate story about false or unprovable accusation from a candidate into a story about himself, making that candidate look sympathetic. That only helps Paladino, so Dicker must (unwittingly or Wittingly) be on Paladino's side. Anway, the whole thing looked like a set up to me!

There's no way the NY Post is ever friendly to a Democrat.

Sep. 30 2010 12:26 PM
Mary Jane Gocher from Manhattan

Candidates' families should be off-limits, especially children. I don't blame Paladino for being outraged. I am not going to vote for him, but I am on his side on this issue.

Sep. 30 2010 12:07 PM
Robert from NYC

How suffocating, more Albany. Oimeh! As Dante would say.

Sep. 30 2010 11:58 AM

i can see wanting to kick Palandino's a*$

Sep. 30 2010 11:55 AM
Robert from NYC

A NY Post reporter? If a typical one would have been interesting to watch them kill each other. We'd be rid of them both!
If not a "typical" Post reporter I retract this statement. lol

Sep. 30 2010 11:52 AM
Robert from NYC

Brian, I can't believe you asked how did we get this point! We've been at this point now for at least 2 years. Goodness, you've done many stories on it over the past 2 years at least.

Sep. 30 2010 11:50 AM

Threatening to kill somebody if they photographed his daughter is quite insane.

Sep. 30 2010 11:34 AM

I'd like to share my thoughts on the main BL comments page.

[[Note from BL Producer: When there is a segment on BL related to an existing story on It's A Free Country, we've been trying to consolidate the comments by closing the BL segment and directing people to IAFC. Hope that makes sense. We're experimenting with how to juggle the two sites, but hopefully this makes sense. Thanks for understanding.]]

Sep. 30 2010 11:28 AM
Brian from NYC

Palidino is a very tight and controlling person. Its freedom of the press only when its good for many of those in the "teabag" party. Very manipulative and if you get cant say inflammatory stuff and not expect it to come back at you in spades....

Sep. 30 2010 11:05 AM
Dave Rakowski

Two idiots who have behaved this way their whole public and professional lives---they deserve each other.

Sep. 30 2010 10:38 AM

It's clear that Fred Dicker's intention was to provoke Carl Paladino. He got in Carl's face. Dicker's history shows that he is on Cuomo's side and he obviously he has a personal stake in this as a reporter that is part of the Albany old boy network. On the other hand Carl needs to back up statements when he makes them, but he doesn't answer to Fred Dicker, much like how Andrew Cuomo completely scripts all interviews and never acknowledges any questions he doesn't want to answer. It's a clear double standard which is totally ignored by Albany's "Senior" reporter. Unfortunately Fred Dicker seems to have forgotten the fact that as a reporter he should maintain some semblance of unbiasedness. Maybe that's because Fred is biased for Cuomo as evidenced by his long history of reporting favorably for Cuomo when everyone knows Cuomo has skeletons. Anyone ever wonder why the media hasn't grilled Cuomo over the HUD housing debacle that he oversaw? It's just the same old, same old. Here comes the next crook to occupy the Governor's Mansion.

Sep. 30 2010 10:22 AM
s from uws

Maybe Dicker was provoking, but if Paladino can't find it within himself to step away from a situation that ultimately could threaten his campaign, then what can you expect from him in more difficult conversations he is likely to have with government officials? He and his staff really showed their colors when they made threats both veiled and pretty direct. He's the best thing that could have happened to Cuomo.

Sep. 30 2010 10:21 AM

I think this "private" incident reveals an interesting side of Paladino. He needs to learn how to argue at the right moment for the right things with the right people. But a guy who's on a "crusade' as he declares himself in the stand-up on his websiite can't be taken seriously anyway---- or, if we take him seriously, after this threataning incident with this so-called journalist and after his crusade statement we should make sure that this individual will never ever become governor.

Sep. 30 2010 10:14 AM

I'm not a fan of Paladino, but Dicker was really provoking these guys. This looked like it was about to turn violent.

Sep. 30 2010 09:00 AM

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