Even the Smear Campaign Was Incompetent

New York Governor David Paterson's attack flack oversaw a stealth media campaign to smear Caroline Kennedy after she withdrew from the Senate race—which succeeded in making Kennedy and the Governor look terrible. Good work!

The New York Times today puts a stamp on this with a story detailing what we already knew; namely, that Judith Smith, Paterson's top PR consultant, jumped into the fray as soon as Kennedy withdrew her name and started mucking things up:

On Jan. 22, the morning after Ms. Kennedy withdrew, Ms. Smith spoke to Mr. Paterson, then went to the governor’s Midtown Manhattan offices, the advisers said.

There, she told at least two people to call major media outlets around the state. She instructed them to tell reporters that the governor had been dismayed by Ms. Kennedy’s public auditioning for the job, that he never intended to select her as senator, and that the tax and nanny issues had led her to pull out of consideration.

This looks particularly bad for Paterson for two reasons: one, he denied knowing anything about these leaks, which was obviously a lie; and two, Judith Smith had no authorization to know any of the confidential details of Kennedy's application, which she was leaking to the press left and right.

None of this will make Caroline Kennedy look any better. The damage to her is done (maybe with good reason!). Now Paterson also is clearly a lying, scummy backstabber. And his flack evidently developed so little good will that as soon as the Gov. denied leaking, the entire press corps set out to write stories outing the fact that the leaker was his personal PR person.

Time to fire your flack, Gov. [NYT]