The Young Plagiarizer Beat the New York Times at its Own Game
By Al Giordano
Narco News School of Authentic Journalism
May 12, 2003
The front page of the Sunday New York Times is a big deal for all journalists everywhere; we see one of the largest tips of an iceberg ever seen floating in the murky ocean of Commercial Media:
"Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception," is the headline, followed by 14, 290 navel-gazing words, including an "Editors' Note" (registration required) (the "note" doesn't say which of the editors penned it - the subtle placement of the apostrophe indicates the plural use of the noun - the Times editors are not sufficiently stand-up guys and gals that they would sign their names at a moment of crisis) and a long sidebar documenting glaring falsehoods published by the "newspaper of record" in the Big Apple.
"There will be no newsroom search for scapegoats," the newspaper cheesily announced. The scapegoat has already been found and slain upon the altar of 43rd Street: He is a 27-year-old ex-New York Times reporter, Jayson Blair, who resigned from his four-year Times career on May Day only after outside media alerted the Times of some, ahem, obvious problems with his reporting.
Jayson Blair should now write a manual: "Steal This Newspaper." He gave new meaning to the newsroom term "phoning it in." He would plagiarize material from other media, and sometimes claim, including to readers, that he was in Texas, or Maryland, or Ohio, when, it seems, he was, says the Times now, somewhere in Brooklyn. Sometimes his apparent invention of facts out of thin air harmed real people, like when he claimed that law enforcement sources had fingered the triggerman in the Washington DC sniper case (if that doesn't unfairly prejudice a defendant to a jury pool, what does?)
The Times has now characterized Blair with words normally reserved for serial killers: "a troubled young man veering toward professional self-destruction," who was both "prolific," and "pathological." The newspaper now marvels at the "audacity of the deceptions," and "his savviness and his ingenious ways of covering his tracks," his "hungry ambition and an unsettling interest in newsroom gossip," his "sloppy" physical appearance, and his penchant for "drinking scotch, smoking cigarettes and buying Cheez Doodles from the vending machines."
"The person who did this is Jayson Blair," the newspaper quotes its publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., as saying. "Let's not begin to demonize our executives — either the desk editors or the executive editor or, dare I say, the publisher."
Oh, Mr. Sulzberger, please… Let's…(more)