saturday night live versus david paterson. they are killing him with ridicule. so how should paterson play it? obviously, engaging them is not the answer, paterson's communication director is gone, and other staffers are sure to follow. the governor happens to be a man with a sensational sense of humor. if he's going to take them on, he should rely on that gift to get back at them. the sad truth is that nobody is exempt from these guys, especially when their victims, like paterson, are good people who have neither the tools nor the will to fight back.
clearly, the saturday night live people don't want to take on obama. they like him. anyone who has been watching snl for the last torturous eight years knows that the writers haven't been that tough on the bush-cheney gang. could it be that it was just too dangerous? let's just take a minute to remember who owns nbc. that's right, general electric, a company that depends on the government for the largesse that has become known as corporate welfare. could it be that in the back of these tricky executives' minds is a sort of inverse google motto of "do no harm (to ourselves")? in any event, the cast and writers went very light on the bushies, but the administration didn't take any of it seriously enough to fight back. of course, in the end, their polling numbers were lower than a hound's belly.
when snl represented mario cuomo as a mafioso, the then-governor was not happy, nor should he have been. too many people figure that if snl says it, it must be true: because if they were lying, they would be sued. unfortunately, it ain't necessarily so. at one point, a very liberal supreme court said that if one chose to become a public figure, all the rules were off. the standards to prove actual malice were set so high that it became practically impossible to sue. then, too, there are all those thugs out there on the internet who slander and libel with impunity, often hiding behind a coward's anonymity.
so, if i am david paterson, i laugh. there really isn't anything else he can do. if he fights them, he brings even more attention to their cowardly and vicious actions. on some level, people know this is just foolery. they may laugh, but it is the laughter of bullies in the schoolyard who are violating their mothers' injunctions not to pick on those who cannot fight back.
for my friend david, this piece of advice: let it go or take them on with charm and wit. and, by the way, sometime in the future, when some of these folks least expect it, remember something i once heard former governor cuomo say: "the world is round." sooner or later when someone wants something and then, for no apparent reason, doesn't get it, it will be your turn to laugh. -- alan s. chartock is president and ceo of wamc/northeast public radio and an executive publisher at the legislative gazette.