Originally created 05/28/03

Unbelievable



Many people are shocked and awed that disgraced reporter Jayson Blair, who quit The New York Times after being exposed as a plagiarist and liar, is now looking to get rich peddling a book and TV movie about his experience.

It's terrible, but he just might pull it off. In an interview with The New York Observer, Blair's account of his career at The Times is quite different from what's been reported elsewhere.

Blair doesn't deny he lied and plagiarized or that affirmative action played a role in getting him hired in 1998. He says racism made him do it. So much for accepting personal responsibility.

"Both racial preferences and racism played a role (in my career at The Times," he whines. "And ... they didn't balance each other out. Racism had much more of an impact."

Poor Jayson Blair; why, he's actually a victim of The Times.

There's more. The editors didn't "protect" him from being accountable for his fabrications and inaccuracies, he says. To the contrary, they put unbearable pressure on him to succeed because he is black.

Worst of all was The Times' managing editor, Gerald Boyd, an African-American who was supposedly Blair's mentor and friend. He was neither, says Blair; Boyd was an "antagonist" who damaged his career.

Isn't this the stuff of great drama for a book and movie? Blair certainly hopes so, and why not? Stephen Glass, another journalistic fraud who made up stories and sold them to The New Republic and other publications until he was exposed five years ago, is on 60 Minutes and other TV shows hawking a fictionalized novel of his adventures in journalism.

If Glass can parlay his mendacious storytelling into wealth and fame, why shouldn't Blair? Indeed, if Blair can't find a publisher - and so far he hasn't been able to - he could martyr himself even more as a victim of racism. Glass, who's white, had no trouble finding a publisher to give him a six-figure deal.

It's a sorry commentary on our times when men who seem incapable of uttering one word that anyone can believe, capitalize on their frauds and deceptions to become rich and famous. What are most people, who seek success via hard work, honesty and integrity, to make of that?