President Obama's aides were so furious that Gov. Paterson dragged him into a rant about racism that they sent a message sharply criticizing the governor's comments just hours after he made them, The Post has learned.
Aides to Obama were angered by Paterson's tirade on liberal talk-radio station WWRL on Friday, sources said.
Paterson blamed his political woes on racially slanted coverage and predicted the president would be the next "victim" of biased media.
Obama's team delivered a pointed message to Paterson within hours of the morning broadcast, multiple sources said.
It came in a call from White House political director Patrick Gaspard, who has deep ties to the New York political scene, to Larry Schwartz, the governor's first deputy secretary.
Gaspard wanted to know "why [Paterson] was dragging the president into" his troubles, said one source.
But although Obama's aides were unhappy, the sources said, the conversation was not hostile.
Obama, who still enjoys popularity in the polls despite taking some hits on the health-care issue, has rarely touched directly on issues of race. He won election by a wide margin with support across demographic lines and broad support among white voters.
"I'm not surprised" that his advisers were displeased, said one Democratic insider, adding that Gaspard is a fiercely loyal adviser who has been monitoring the situation in New York.
Paterson is facing growing calls from union leaders and others to reconsider his chances of winning election in 2010.
Paterson, New York's first black governor, is suffering historically low popularity. He blamed his and Obama's problems on a white-dominated media that he said had embarked on an attack campaign.
"My feeling is it's being orchestrated, it's a game, and people who pay attention know that," he said.
He compared his troubles to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the nation's only other black governor, then brought in the president.
"The next victim on the list -- and you see it coming -- is President Barack Obama," he said, citing his efforts to change health care.
Paterson said the health-care debate was an example of how the nation is "not a postracial" society, a phrase often proudly used to describe the United States in the wake of Obama's election.
Paterson aides declined comment yesterday.
But on Friday, the governor issued a "clarifying" statement, saying, "What I did point out was that certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes."
There was speculation the later statement came because of the Gaspard call, although it was unclear whether they were related.
Paterson, in his efforts on Friday to point out reports he'd found biased, cited accounts of his late-night partying at a Chelsea club.
But on Friday night, he was partying again -- this time at the second annual "Best Buddies" party in the Hamptons, where he posed for photographs with Paris Hilton's mom, Kathy.
By FREDRIC U. DICKER in Albany and MAGGIE HABERMAN in New York
New York Post
Click to view image: '856e46dbe0c4-paterson_hilton.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|