This deserves to be on their masthead. Replace "All the news that's fit to print" with "A pathological pattern of misrepresentation, fabricating and deceiving" and the Times will have broken new ground for "Truth in Advertising" standards. No wonder these guys supported Clinton - they are both so disinterested in the truth.
|...Sundays story honestly detailed the startling breakdown in communication among Times editors about Blairs extensiveand well-chronicledhistory of problems with accuracy and sloppiness. The paper was unflinching in its description of how the Times failed to track Blairs expense reports and missed glaring warning signs along the waylike the time a national editor saw Blair in the newsroom hours after he had supposedly filed a story from West Virginia. Times metro editor Jonathan Landman was quoted as being particularly vocal about Blair; in April 2002 Landman, the Times story reports, sent a two-sentence e-mail message to newsroom administrators: We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now.
But theres plenty that the Times report, which ran under the rubric correcting the record, didnt fully explore, namely how a troubled young reporter whose short career was rife with problems was able to advance so quickly. Internally, reporters had wondered for years whether Blair was given so many chancesand whether he was hired in the first placebecause he was a promising, if unpolished, black reporter on a staff that continues to be, like most newsrooms in the country, mostly white. The Times also didnt address an uncomfortable but unavoidable topic that has been broached with some of the papers top editors during the past week: by favoring Blair, did the Times end up reinforcing some of the worst suspicions about the pitfalls of affirmative action? And will there be fewer opportunities for young minority reporters in the future? We have, generally, a horribly undiverse staff, says one Times staffer. And so we hold up and promote the few black staffers we have. Thats a point other news outlets have made since Blair resigned. Executive editor Howell Raines, who declined repeated requests for an inter-view with NEWSWEEK, told NPR, when pressed about whether Blair was pushed along because of his race, No, I do not see it as illustrating that point. I see it as illustrating a tragedy for Jayson Blair. (Blair, whose voice mail at the Times was still active as of Saturday evening, did not respond to a message left there or on his cell phone; several sources at the Times say he is currently in a hospital setting dealing with personal problems.)
Blairs close mentoring relationship with Times managing editor Gerald Boyd, who is also black, was not explored in depth in the paper. Blair wrote Boyds biographical sketch in the Timess internal newsletter when Boyd was named managing editor. Blair was known to brag about his close personal relationships with both Boyd and Raines, and the young writer frequently took cigarette breaks with Boyd.
Questions about Rainess management stylehis penchant for giving preferential treatment to favored stars, his celebrated fondness for flooding the zone on big stories, severely stretching resourceswerent addressed at all. Indeed, more than one Times staffer pointed out that the papers national staff would not have been in need of the services of an untested young reporter with a spotty track record had a number of veterans not been pushed out by Raines last year.
Of course, plagiarism, and even outright fraud, can occur at any news organization, and certainly the lions share of the blame for this scandal should fall on Blair. As commentators have noted, the normal journalistic checks and balances are put in place with the assumption that everyonereporters, editors and readersshares an interest in getting to the truth. The per-son who did this is Jayson Blair, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in Sundays story. Lets not begin to demonize our executives. As the Times seeks to come to grips with how this could have happened, there is bound to be a lot more soul-searching in the months ahead.