Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for February 12, 2010

Coming up on Need To KNow the biggest story coming out of Albany this week wasn't really a story at all we'll look at how and why a rumor about governor Patterson took hold and refused to let go, we will also listen to some stories about Mount Hope Cemetery

 

(ANNOUNCER)  ROCHESTER'S NEWSMAGAZINE SINCE 1997, THIS IS NEED TO KNOW.

 

 

I’M JULIE PHILIPP, THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR THIS EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW.

 

LET’S START WITH A RUMOR OUR CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT KAREN DEWITT HEARD ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO. THE NEW YORK TIMES IS ON THE VERGE OF PRINTING A NEGATIVE STORY ABOUT NEW YORK GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON.  A FEW DAYS LATER, NEW YORK NOW HOST MATT RYAN HEARD THE GOVERNOR MIGHT EVEN RESIGN BECAUSE OF THE STORY.  THEN SOME OF THE POLITICAL BLOGGERS STARTED MENTIONING THE STORY – ONE SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE A BOMBSHELL.  TELEVISION NEWS ANCHORS STARTED QUOTING THE BLOGS ON THE EVENING NEWS.  PATERSON’S OPPONENT IN THE 2010 GUBERNATORIAL RACE STARTED SENDING OUT PRESS RELEASES ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A NEW YORK TIMES STORY.

 

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN, YOU CAN EITHER PASS IT ON…OR JOIN ME FOR A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHY THIS RUMOR IS SPREADING WHEN THERE ARE -- AT THIS POINT – VIRTUALLY NO FACTS TO BACK IT UP.  I’VE GOT RUMOR PSYCHOLOGY EXPERT NICK DIFONZO FROM ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR TIM KNEELAND FROM NAZARETH HERE WITH ME.Thank you both for coming in today I want to start with you Nick, What's going on Here?

 

(Nick) Speculation that doesn't seem to be backed up by much.  Governor Patterson seems to be taking a good stance, he's really doing pretty well in fighting this rumor, his hand was forced because of widespread media reports and he got on TV and spread the word forcefully, that these rumors are rediculous

 

(Julie) But still they persist from the Political Science viewpoint what's going on?

 

(Tim) Well I think this is a good case of what happens when there is a City Governor who has neither good political capital with the democrats even in Albany and the public at large and so I tink he's a weaker canidate so its easier to believe these rumors about a canidate that doesn't have any backing from it's political supporters and the rumors do seem to touch on classic problems not just for Patterson but politicians, the kind of scandle issues that we do find out about former governors of NY or even senators or other political officials.

 

(Julie) one of the colums called this post traumatic Sex scandal syndrum, the NY times  beignt he newspaper that reported about Spitzer and that was a bombshell do you think past experience with rumors that we heard from that story, contributed to this at all?

 

(Nick) One of the things that makes this plausible is the admission by gov. Paterson himself when he was first appointed that he had several affairs so the rumor is quite pausible and again many people want him to leave so many people are motivated to spread this rumor

 

(Julie) he's come out and said somebody out there is going far out of their way to make sure I'm not a canidate this year, is he being paranoid or do you think there's some truth to that?

 

(Tim) well I certainly thin that his political opponents are certainly gaining some ground from these rumors to say that it was malicously spread, I'm not sure that we can actually prove that, I'm not sure that that's the case, the rumor starts out and spreads quickly becasue of the plausibility also the fact that he is not the most powerful man in Albany right now he did call it Cocka-esq on the Larry King show so I think the Gov. is getting out there but in some ways he is fanning the rumor mill becasue then the next day the reports in the post or the Daily news can be well he went on TV and said here let me repeat the rumor so I think in some ways as a political you have to be careful in how you deal with these rumors because it keeps them in the papers day after day.

 

(Julie) You said you think he's handling this pretty well.  It's very unusaul for Gov. Patterson not to have a public schedule this past MOnday and tuesday he had no public schedule he laid low for a couple of days and then came out with some statements, then attacked the NY times do you think there's anythin he could have done better to slow the rumor? much less stop the rumor which he has not succeeded in doing?

 

 

(Nick) He needs a neutral third party source that's trusted by the general public that will come forward and say this rumor is totally ridiculous.  The NY Times would be the best of all but of course we know the NY times has chose a no comment policy and by doing so it has fanned the rumor, it's just the opposite.

 

(Julie) So he can't stop this rumor all by himself?

 

(Nick) He will do better if he has another person helping him, but I give him good grades for coming out very forcefully and also painting it as a malicious rumor, slanderous kind of news item spread by opponents, I give him good marks on that.

 

(Julie) Is there anyone other than the NY Times who can serve as his third party, stand by the governor person?

(Tim) ther was another rumor that surfaced related to this that I believe was reported by the Post about allegations of shananigans in the governor's mantion and a third party a police representative wrote a letter to support, it did not squash that rumor so again....perhaps the NY times coming out but right now there aren't too many allies that Patterson has in Albany,  He upset one of the most powerful democrats, who could have given him cover on this but he pretty much stands alone right now in Albany

 

(Julie) Have there been cases in the past where 

these whisper campaigns or rumor campaigns have been successful in getting someone out of office?

 

(Tim)A whisper campaign that has no truth to it?

Unlikely there have been whipser campaigns in the past that have been proven to be untrue for example there were alligations about McCain and  they proved to be unfounded there was a slight retraction, years and years ago there use to be rumors about George H Bush but again they were rumor mills but they never gained any real value in the public mind becasue it didn't fit with the character or the canidate was able to dispel these rumors so I can't think of any false rumor that has been so distructive to a political figure.

 

(Julie) DOes that indicate that this is a little close to home, that people could see this rumor being true?

 

(Nick) I think people could see it as being plausible, I think there's not many documented cases of this , at least where we have proof of it being successful, McCain in the 2000 election the republican primary in South carolina was the target of a malicious campaign to spread a rumor  a push pull over the phone, that he was the father of an illigitamate African American child it turns out that this child is  a child that he adopted from Asia bangladesh, it's widely rumored that this cost him the republican nomination that year, which at that point everyone thought that he was going to win.

 

(Julie) His #'s are already low if Cuomo enters the race officially he's got a very tough stong opponent, is this enough to knock him out of the running?

 

(Tim) I would say that his chances of being in the running are already pretty low to begin with this just adds contraversy to the campaign and makes it harder to raise money from potential donors, I think the real problem Gov. Paterson has is going to be not a personal scandal but a political, if he has a real problem it's going to come from th attorney general's office or someone instigating certain allegations now about a video lottery terminal that was assigned to someone who might have political connections that's his real problem you can't comment on that really because the investigations ongoing but that is a much more likely thing to hinder his campaign thanrumors of propriety or rumors of a sexual nature

 

(Julie) Do you see this rumor dying down it's been building up all week long? and there's always something new and more and more stuff coming out on the blogs and different newspapers its now showing up on TV, I think MPR had a story about it, which is really tough the News organizations struggled because they were reporting about a rumor and typically we substaintiate those that didn't happen as much in this case is there any chance, is it going to be gone next week?

 

(Nick) If the status quo holds, and the NY times does nothing and there's no new allegations.  and the rumors are not confirmed that is a woman does not come forward or someone does not come forward and say, I had an Affair with Dr. Patterson last week, I think the rumor will die down rather quickly, if the NY times comes out with a story and there's nothing in it, it will immediately die down, If however the NY Times comes out with a story that documents some of this or alleges some of this then it will go on for some weeks, I believe. 

 

(Julie) This rumor was spread in large part through social media, there were reporters Twittering there were facebook enteries, blogs how has social media changed the game for politicians?

 

(Nick ) Politicians have to be quick now you have to keep your ear to the ground when handling any rumor but especially when with the internet it can happen so quickly and so widely, that's point #1 but point #2 is more helpful and that is  with the same speed that a rumor can spread you can also spread an effective retractionif your listening very carefully.

 

(Julie) How would you say politicians and there advisors are adapting given this new world that we are in?

 

(Tim) I think that we're in the Obama generation and one of the things that they actually did was try to put together a white house website to dispel rumors about his health care bill and that in one way becomes a source for people who want to support the president or a canidate.  the can say well this is what they're saying and that they can actually help dispael some of the rumors.  SO it's the old good information we'll hopefully distroy false information

 

(Julie) what should people do when they're listening adn reading and these little notes are showing up on their facebook pages, when they're not sure that it's a rumor, how should they respond, te temptation to go out and tell someone else is really great.

 

(Nick ) Take it with a grain of salt, consider soembody's motivation in spreading it who might be gaining by the spread of such a rumor.  Extend the benefit of the doubt to someone who is being slandered, regardless of your political viewpoints just as you would want them to extent the benefit of the doubt to you.  check, check, check. One of the problems that the internet has created is that even though it supposed to be this great force for democracy and free speach and people interacting with one another, it turns out it's not that way.  The internet has allowed people to form more solid factions. In other words, conservative weblogs link mostly to conservative weblogs and liberal weblogs link mostly to liberal weblogs. So people are talking within a vaccum in the internet and the information and news that they hear is typically from the same flock of birds. It accentuates this birds of a feather flock together which really flock together on the internet.

 

(Julie) This rumor is still sitting out there even if it does die down next week when The New York Times comes out with some other story. Where is this going to be on voters minds?

 

(Timothy) It will just be one other brick in the wall that's sealing up David Patterson's future. Again, the public likes David Patterson, they like his narative, they like his story. But right now, poll after poll is showing that Andrew Cuomo is the one they would prefer to be governor right now. And I think even if it proved to be completely false and The New York Time apologized, and everyone came behind David Patterson, I really think that the problems that are fanning this really are political problems and an ability to be a leader in a time of crisis.

 

(Julie) So it goes much deeper than simply a rumor. Ok. Thank you both for coming in today. It was very interesting. THANK YOU TIM KNEELAND, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR FROM NAZARETH COLLEGE AND NICK DIFONZO, AN EXPERT IN RUMOR PSYCHOLOGY FROM ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY.NOW FROM P-B-S, THE FACES OF AMERICA.  THE FOUR PART SERIES BEGAN THIS WEEK.  USING THE LATEST TOOLS OF GENEALOGY AND GENETICS, THE PROGRAM EXPLORES THE FAMILY HISTORIES OF A DOZEN WELL KNOWN AMERICANS INCLUDING MERYL STREEP, FIGURE SKATER KRISTI YAMAGUCHI, AND COMEDIAN STEPHEN COLBERT.  IT AIRS WEDNESDAYS AT EIGHT ON W-X-X-I TELEVISION.  AND IF YOU MISSED THE FIRST EPISODE THIS WEEK, YOU CAN GO TO OUR WEB SITE W-X-X-I DOT O-R-G AND WATCH IT THERE.

 

 

(Julie) HERE AT NEED TO KNOW, WE STARTED THINKING ABOUT WHY PEOPLE TRACE NOT JUST THEIR OWN ROOTS, BUT THE LIFE STORIES OF OTHERS AS WELL.  WE FOUND A VERY UNIQUE COURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER AND WE WELCOME PROFESSOR EMIL HOMERIN WHO TEACHES IT.  IT'S CALLED SPEAKING STONES. I'm going to have you give a quick description of what that class is.

 

(Emil) What we do in the class is for about the first 10 weeks of the semester, so that's in September, October, we go over to Mount Hope Cemetary every week and we talk about the practices, funeral practices, barial practices in the United States and their history, and elsewhere too, but we begin the focus on the United States. In time, the students will choose a stone or a series of stones which will be the focus of their own research paper. During the course of the semester we'll also go to the Rundell Library in the local history section. Usually every year a fine librarian, Larry Nelcome, will give them a presentation about the resourses that are available. And so they start to look at the cemetary records, people's lives, newspaper articles and so forth as they try to put together the lives of people they don't even know.

 

(Julie) So they select a grave stone and they start there. I've seen some of the case studies. What kinds of things can they learn from just looking at an old gravestone.

 

(Emil) Well, the first thing you do, one of the most interesting things you'll do with a gravestone or a family plot is you start to see dates and relationships with generations. That's a very important thing. Sometimes the stone will tell you things about relationships such as father, mother, sister, brother. It may tell you something about their life, if they were a veteran, if they were a physician. And then also, they look at the imagry which is on the stones which may have have to do with various symbols of Christianity, nature, ivy means memory, and these sorts of things and they start to build from that. So that's sometimes their basis. Sometimes students come in looking for a typr of person. I had one student, Melissa Squires, who was going on to medical school. She wanted to find a physician and what she eneded up finding was a person named Sarah Dolly who was the first female physician in the United States.

 

(Julie) And she's burried in Mount Hope Cemetary. They go on from the gravestones and do some really geneology, genological research, and they really get into the people that are burried in the cemetary and have some pretty interesting stories.

 

(Emil) They do, and one story, sometimes they can come in if they have roots in Rochester that they may have a relative there. And one student, actually found some of her relatives, I believe, great grandparents and was able to use this as a basis to trace back the Venvectin lineage. It went all the way back to some of the earliest dutch settlers in the United States in the colonial time. Elizabeth Jefferies did a fine paper on the Strong mosolium and it ends up she's a direct decendant of the Strong family. Then what they can do is bring in photographs and other memoribilia into their presentations and their papers involving family and it provides, sometimes, some very interesting reading.

 

(Julie) How come people are so facinated in tracing roots, and not only their own roots, but just the others they don't even know. Strangers.

 

(Emil) I think for some of my students it becomes a mystery, sort of a detective story. Sometimes they find good things and sometimes they find bad things. Sometimes they find tragedy. I had one student who happened to see a monument and it said on there they died on the Arctic and that was a paddle boat that sank coming from London. This student went on to research that whole event and affair. I think it's about constructing lives that they haven't lived and that they may never live and the things they find out that surprise them. For instance, in the 1800's there was a lot of death and disease, particularly in children and one of my students found a family of six all of whome died within the space of 10 days from colera.

 

(Julie) Facinating stuff. So, these are available, all of these case studies that you've been collecting now for more than a decade?

 

(Emil) They are. I work with a fine librarian named Susanne Belle at the Rush-Reis Library. The University of Rochester was a pioneer in digital storage and they created what is called UR Research which is a repository of papers and conferences and so forth and we came upon the notion that we can take all my student papers, digitalize them, and make them available. So we have a website right there and people can go and click it on, and they get the color photographs and all sorts of other information that students have collected. The class runs always in the fall, because we want to avoid the snow and then at the end of the semester in December, I will sit and work with all the papers the students have revised and we have it all squared away, then I send all of that to Susanne Belle and she puts it up on UR Research. Beginning in February, we'll start getting from all around the world from people, often times relatives and saying, I enjoyed this paper, would you like a photograph? And then we'll add that to the website so we build this up. One interesting account we had was Nathanial Pond is burried in Mount Hope Cemetary. He was a military commander in the Civil War and the publisher from the Democrat and Chronicle for a time in his life. After he died, his wife had the body of his first wife exhumed so they could all be in the plot togther.  I was contacted by one of his great great grandchildren that said I really enjoyed the paper by Julia Dugen on  Nathanial Pond, but my question is where's my great great grandmother. Apparently Nathanial Pond had been married three times and his first wife had died before Mount Hope cemetary was founded.

 

(Julie) Speaking stones. Thank you so much for coming in and we will have a link to that website on our website. PROFESSOR EMIL HOMERIN TEACHES SPEAKING STONES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER.  WE'VE GOT A LINK TO THE PROJECT ON OUR WEB SITE, W-X-X-I DOT O-R-G.  IT'S TIME NOW FOR THE BUSINESS SECTION WITH THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.

 

(Julie) Matt Daneman, business reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle joins us as he does every week for Need to Know. Good to see you.

 

(Matt) Julie, good to see you.

 

(Julie) Starting off with some things going on in Honeoye Falls.

 

(Matt) Actually, what's going on in Honeoye Falls is what's going on in Buffalo. The Buffalo Auto Show this week General Motors is using that as sort of a backdrop to show off the next generation of it's fuel cell stack. Down at Honeoye Falls they've got all their R and D high tech  wonkery going on to try to fuel cell power train systems for a generation of fuel cell cars that will run on hydrogen. Get away from oil etc. At the Buffalo Auto show this week they sort of showed this next generation of fuel cell stack, the significant parts of it being that it's a lot smaller, a lot cheaper and a lot lighter than the old generation so it's closer to, and General Morots is is continuing to progress towards that point where it will actually be commercially viable and make sence for you and me to buy one as opposed to right now when it's far to large and far too expensive to be a commercially viable going. These new fuel cell stacks, about the size of a computer tower, where the old ones have been the size of a really big suitcase that would have been a real big hassle.

 

(Julie) You know, with all the turmoil in the auto industry and GM how is the facility in Honeoye Falls fairing? It seems like they're still progressing with their research.

 

(Matt) They are still progressing. General Motors throughout their entire financial difficulties still continues to pump money into this research so you can really see that the companies counting on this kind of technology. This isn't sort of a, oh it would be nice, kind of thing. They're really pushing this as a major direction in their future. Over it's history, General Motors keeps throwing out this figure that it spend 3.5 billion dollars on fuel cell research. It's still staffing the Honeoye Falls Research center. Obviously work is still going on. The company is talking about potentialy in 2015, these things could be commercially available. Toyota and the German auto maker  Dimer also pushing towards that kind of year too. So we potentialy could see in 5 years being able to go to your local dealership and polp down money for a fuel cell vehicle.

 

(Julie) Country Sweet.

 

(Matt) A little bit of bad news for a Rochester icon. The Country Sweet chain, there were three restaurants, 30 plus years Country Sweet's been in business in the Rochester area, it sells sauces on grocery shelves all over the place. 2 of the restaurants have been closed down purely due to the economy. It's kind of facinating. I was just reading about this. Chicken wing prices nationally continue to go up and up and up and they typically are more expensive, per ounce, than chicken breast prices now. Pure supply and demand. You can buy chicken wings all over the place now, even KFC is offering chicken wings. So chicken wing prices go up, cost of doing business goes up, Country Sweet shuts down it's Monroe Avenue and Lake Avenue restaurants. It's Mount Hope Restaurant is still open, the sauce business is still going, but it's definatley taken a hit to a Rochester Icon. A restaurant chain that has been a part of the community for 30 plus years.

 

(Julie) And finally, a high speed google test site may be in our future.

 

(Matt) Part of the google oligarchy that's threatening to take over our entire lives since it already runs all of our e-mail.

 

(Julie) You sound paranoid.

 

(Matt) Google is talking about doing some high speed internet test sites around the U.S. where it, itself would offer high speed internet access. Roughly 100 times faster than what you can commercialy get right now through providers such as Time Warner and things of that nature. There's applications going on all over the country, make this the test site, make this the test site, Ontario County and Monroe Country are both talking about pushing this as well too. So we could potentialy see this sort of thing going on in our backyard as well. A test site for ultra high speed internet that's faster than you or I would ever need internet access, but for some people, it would make a big difference.

 

(Julie) Thanks so much! Have a good weekend! MATT DANEMAN, BUSINESS REPORTER FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  COMING UP NEXT WEEK ON NEED TO KNOW - WE BRING YOU AN INTERVIEW WITH GWEN IFILL.  YOU KNOW HER FROM WASHINGTON WEEK AND P-B-S NEWSHOUR.  ALSO, AN EXCERPT FROM MY INTERVIEW WITH DR. BRAD BERK - WHO WILL BE RETURNING AS C-E-O OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER IN JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS.   I'M JULIE PHILIPP, THANKS FOR WATCHING AND HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

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