It isn't often, even in the modern world of attack politics, that an unknown Republican candidate for governor kicks off his campaign with a scathing denunciation of the state's largest newspaper.
Yet that's exactly what economist Pierre Rinfret, the long-shot challenger to New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo (D), did this week in venting his spleen against the New York Times. In an interview with the Syracuse Herald-Journal, Rinfret had this to say about the Times:
"I hate it. I hate it with a passion. It's biased, it's prejudiced and it lies. It's pure fabrication, and it drives me nuts." He said the paper's editorial positions are "nonsense" and its scientific coverage is "fake. If I want to know a fact, I go into the office and ask my staff or ring it up on a computer."
Why then does Rinfret have the Times delivered to his Fifth Avenue home? "There ain't much else in New York," he said in a comment that should endear him to the city's three other major dailies.
The candidate acknowledges that his comments were imprudent but isn't taking back a word. "We have to get used to that kind of candor from him," said Rinfret spokesman Jack Cookfair. "It's kind of refreshing, actually."
What about the political fallout? "I'm not so sure we were in the running for the Times's endorsement anyway," Cookfair said.
Times executive editor Max Frankel took the disparaging comments in stride. "We are very pleased to have Mr. Rinfret among our subscribers," he said. "We are also pleased to learn that some of his opinions are based on other sources."