Broken Clouds 45° Good Evening
Broken Clouds 45° Good Evening

Did "SNL" Attack Paterson as Payback for Caroline?

Here's how the press works, sometimes.

A famous person is spotted having an intense conversation with another famous person at a famous restaurant, and the next thing you know, this meeting is in a million papers and on a million websites. And because the press has no idea what these famous people were talking about, the story has no legs, or a "nut" graph. So, they make something up.

That's what happened recently with Caroline Kennedy and Lorne Michaels. On Jan. 29, they were spotted at Morandi's on Waverley Place. One of the few facts: That they were in "intense conversation" to the exclusion of the other guests at the table.

The resulting nut graph in countless stories - that they were plotting an appearance on "SNL" to rehabilitate her image.

That nut graph was a complete fabrication. No one really knows if she's going to go on the show, or why she would use this venue to "rehabilitate" her image. Or whether her very famous image even needed "rehabilitating." Honestly, it doesn't.

So, two can play at this game. And here's MY nut graph: What if they were meeting that night to plot revenge? To go after a governor who had betrayed her, humiliated her - publicly.

What if this meeting was about...payback?

Do I have your attention? Good, then head on to the jump, if you want to read more of MY theory… Meanwhile, I've gotta run to watch "Oprah." Love ya..! Welcome to the jump, dear reader, and let me warn you right now: You may have just entered the realm of pure fiction. It is - I promise you - the realm of pure speculation. I like to call it "informed speculation."

Let us consider some basic truths:

1.) Lorne and Caroline Kennedy are old friends. They move - as the saying goes - in the same social circles. She is royalty and he is royalty. He is the most famous television executive in the world. He may be the only famous television executive in the world. Only one may have recently come close to his level of fabulousness, and barely at that - Roone Arledge, who died some years ago and was another Kennedy clan consigliore. Lorne and Kennedy have been pals for years; go to Patrick McMullan's website to see some priceless shots from a few years ago.

2.) The skit that pilloried Gov. David Paterson aired just two nights after the Morandi dinner, on Jan. 31. How vicious was it? Again (same as the skit last month), it made gentle fun of his blindness, and had Fred Armisen/Paterson respond to Seth Meyers' question about the search process to replace Hillary. "Haven’t you heard?" he says in a nasal whine. Not well.

3.) By Monday of this week, there was a flurry of stories - notably a big one in the NYT - detailing how Paterson's staff had leaked embarrassing details about her, either as a way of forcing her out of the selection process, or by covering his own mistakes during the process. (Kirsten Gillibrand was selected to replace Hill.)

So, let us recap: Old friends get together to exact revenge on a bumbling governor who embarrassed her.

What's the problem with this theory? You're right! The first Armisen/Paterson skits aired Dec. 13.

Two days later, on a Tuesday, she formally announced she was in the hunt for the Senate seat.

Why would Lorne want to embarrass the gov with these skits - which infuriated the gov, by the way - when his friend needed all the help she could get from said gov?

You won't be surprised to learn that I have another theory! The governor never had any intention of appointing her, and she knew it. She tried to force HIS hand by entering the sweepstakes, which caused him all sorts of problems (notably one with AG Andrew Cuomo, who was also sideswiped.)

You don't believe me, do you? OK, here's a key paragraph from the Dec. 13 Times piece by Nicholas Confessore, which reported on her entry into the race:

"The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing the governor, said that Mr. Paterson also had come to see Ms. Kennedy as a strong potential candidate whose appointment would keep a woman in the seat and whose personal connections would allow her to raise the roughly $70 million required to hold on to the seat in the coming years."

OK: Now here's the sensational Times piece on Tuesday, Feb. 3. by Danny Hakim and Confessore. How sensational? It talked about how Paterson leaked stuff to the media about Caroline (taxes, nanny problems, etc.) to embarrass her. Newsday's James Madore has also reported widely and well on the same allegations last week. But the Times story had some intriguing details...

And I quote:

"According to advisers to the governor who were involved in the process, the leaks against Ms. Kennedy were coordinated by Judith A. Smith, a consultant who has been acting as the governor’s top communications strategist.

[Judy Smith?! Yup, the same Judy who used to be the TOP PR person for NBC. That's the network where Lorne works, by the way. A small world indeed.]

The piece continues:

"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..."

Let me repeat those words: "...that he never intended to select her as Senator..."

OK, those are my theories, and - caveat emptor. They may entirely bogus.

But I DID get you to read this far, right?

And ask yourself, finally, this question: Why would "Saturday Night Live" pillory a little-known governor with a disability to a national audience in the midst of such enormous political intrigue in Albany?

If you have a better theory, I’m all ears…

More Entertainment