“I really feel Governor Paterson owes me an apology,” said Dominic Carter.
It was Monday afternoon, and Mr. Carter, the seasoned political anchor of NY1′s Road to City Hall, was speaking on the phone with The Observer.
Three days earlier, during a Friday morning radio interview with Errol Louis of WWRL, Governor Paterson had blamed his current struggles in office in part on the color of his skin, alleging that the media was treating him (and Barack Obama) unfairly because he is black.
Along the way, Mr. Paterson singled out Mr. Carter for criticism.
“I know he likes to ingratiate himself with folks, trying to beat up on elected officials from our community,” said Mr. Paterson.
“What we are dealing with is a media that has already decided the election,” Mr. Paterson added later. “And has pawns in the media who spend all their time ingratiating themselves with their supervisors hoping they’ll get a better job, trying to promote that.”
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Carter said he was taken aback by the criticism.
“For some unknown reason the governor thinks I’m an easy target for his frustration with the media which is very disappointing to me on a personal level,” said Mr. Carter. “There is nothing that is more important to me than being fair and objective.”
Mr. Carter, who grew up in the Bronx and recently chronicled his childhood in a memoir titled No Momma’s Boy, said that he has known Mr. Paterson for more than twenty years, since his early days in the media, reporting for WLIB, then a black talk radio station.
“If he doesn’t want to apologize, then fine,” said Mr. Carter. “I’m a big boy. The job goes on. But he indicated that I was selling out as a black man. What he’s really saying is that I shouldn’t cover the governor straight up. I should give him an advantage because I’m African-American and he’s African-American.”
“Let’s say, for arguments sake, that Paterson went out to a party every night,” said Mr. Carter. “So under Paterson’s rule, we shouldn’t point this out because it would be perceived as racist or playing into a stereotype? That’s ridiculous.”
“In the African-American community, one of the biggest insults you can direct at another African-American, from a historical point of view, is to call them ‘Uncle Tom’ or to imply that they are an ‘Uncle Tom,’” said Mr. Carter. “He owes me an apology for basically calling me an ‘Uncle Tom’ but without actually using the term.”
On Friday morning, Mr. Paterson seemed particularly annoyed about an interview that Mr. Carter had conducted the night before with Rev. Al Sharpton. During the interview, Mr. Carter and Mr. Sharpton discussed recent reports that the Governor had stayed out to 1 a.m. celebrating at a birthday party at the Manhattan night club, Taj, on W 21st Street.
At one point, Mr. Sharpton criticized reporters for not pointing out that Mr. Paterson was at the event with his daughter. “I think it’s more inappropriate that you didn’t say he was with his daughter,” said Mr. Sharpton.
“I don’t know if his daughter was there, Reverend Sharpton,” replied Mr. Carter. “But I do believe that his daughter is under the age of 18. So if that’s the case, she shouldn’t be at a bar at 1 o’clock in the morning.”
As it turns out, Mr. Paterson’s daughter is 21. And on Friday morning, the governor pounced on Mr. Carter for the mistaken suggestion.
“Last night, questioning Al Sharpton, Dominic Carter says, ‘One thing is a fact, his daughter is under 18 and what is he doing taking her into a club at that hour,’” said Mr. Paterson, his voice seemingly bristling with anger. “My daughter’s 21, Dominic.”
“I think the governor is running off at the mouth without even having seen the clip,” said Mr. Carter. “Once he sees the clip, he’ll have no legs to stand on.”
Mr. Carter said he planned on reshowing the clip of the interview with Mr. Sharpton on Monday night’s Road to City Hall. In the meantime, Mr. Carter said he’s invited the Governor to come on his show “We could go point by point over what he feels is unfair,” said Mr. Carter. “But he’s not going to do that because the governor knows the truth—he’s trying to make me into an easy target.”
And what of the governor’s broader suggestions of racism in the media? Mr. Carter said that the governor was entitled to his opinions. “It’s not my role to quarrel with that,” said Mr. Carter. “I will say that many of his wounds are self-inflicted. Anyone who tries to deny it is in denial themselves.”