In a City Room blog post that went up at 6:07 p.m., the NYT finally addressed rumors of a brewing David Paterson sex expose. The unsigned story appears to be saying that the story -- at least as described by other publications -- doesn't exist.
Note the wording of this passage, reporting on Paterson's press conference today after being interviewed by the NYT:
Mr. Paterson then criticized the paper for not formally tackling the issue of the story everyone is talking about that doesn’t exist.
“They don’t seem to be interested in addressing it or doing anything about it — I think it’s appalling,” he said.
The story goes on to quote metropolitan editor Joe Sexton as saying:
“Obviously we are not responsible for what other news organizations are reporting. It’s not coming from The Times.”
Sexton doesn't deny or confirm anything about the story, but Paterson told reporters he was asked nothing about rumors related to a purported sex scandal.
The NYT post goes on to refer, throughout, to the story that "doesn't exist" or that "reporters don't know exist."
Sentences in the post are oddly constructed so as to refer to the story as something "no one knows exists."
One of his possible Republican rivals, Rick Lazio, has called for the article no one knows exists to be published or for The Times to say it doesn’t exist, all to clear the good name of the governor and end “the psychological warfare” against him.
How exactly can it be a story that no one knows exists? Someone must know. At best it's an awkward construction that seems intended to obfuscate the truth, which the NYT surely knows.
It's all a bit, well, existential. When the NYT says the article "doesn't exist," does it mean that the article doesn't exist at all, or that it just "doesn't exist" in a form consumable by readers? Does an article ever really "exist" at all? Does the NYT mean the story won't ever exist in the future?
Whatever it means, it appears that the NYT is trying to distance itself from incessant rumors that its story will be the sex blockbuster readers have been expecting.
The fact that Paterson was interviewed by a NYT reporter for 90 minutes today makes clear a story about the governor is imminent -- perhaps even hours away. But while its contents still aren't known, the NYT's blog post serves to further dampen expectations of a piece that could force a resignation.