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N.Y. Times: Ex-Reporter 'Committed Fraud'
AP | 5/11/03 | TARA BURGHART

Posted on 05/11/2003 3:27:17 AM PDT by kattracks

NEW YORK, May 11, 2003 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- A New York Times reporter "committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud," including stealing material from other newspapers, inventing quotes and lying about his whereabouts, according to an investigation conducted by the paper.

The review found problems in at least 36 of the 73 articles written by Jayson Blair from the time he began receiving national reporting assignments in late October to his May 1 resignation. The Times described the episode as "a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper."

Blair, 27, "used these techniques to write falsely about emotionally charged moments in recent history, from the deadly sniper attacks in suburban Washington to the anguish of families grieving for loved ones killed in Iraq," according to a story the Times posted on its Web site Saturday before its publication in Sunday's editions.

The 7,500-word story was accompanied by an editor's note apologizing to Times' readers and a detailed accounting of articles in which falsification, plagiarism or other problems were discovered by a team of Times reporters and researchers.

"It's a huge black eye," Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Co. and publisher of the newspaper, said in the article. "It's an abrogation of the trust between the newspaper and its readers."

The inquiry into Blair's work continues, especially on more than 600 articles he wrote before his sniper coverage began in October. The newspaper asked readers to report problems by e-mailing a special address: retrace(at)nytimes.com.

The Times cited several reasons for not detecting the problems with Blair, including "a failure of communication among senior editors; few complaints from the subjects of (Blair's) articles; his savviness and his ingenious ways of covering his tracks."

Blair attended the University of Maryland, but did not graduate, and joined the Times in 1999 after an internship the previous year. He did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment, and the Times said he rejected repeated requests to help the newspaper in its inquiry or comment on his work.

In a letter sent to the Times and read to the AP after his resignation, Blair blamed "personal issues" and apologized for his "lapse of journalistic integrity."

The review began after the editor at the San Antonio Express-News pointed to similarities in an April 26 piece by Blair and a story that appeared in the Texas paper a week earlier.

The story concerned a woman's monthlong wait for news on her son, a soldier missing in Iraq. The Times said at the time it was unable to determine whether Blair had done any original reporting for the piece, and Blair quit within days.

The investigation showed that while he was filing stories with datelines from around the country, Blair was often in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, even filing expense receipts from stores and restaurants there.

In other instances:

-On Oct. 30, Blair wrote that John Muhammad, one of the two sniper suspects, had been talking with local investigators for more than an hour when federal authorities forced an end to the interrogation - perhaps as Muhammad was ready to confess. But law enforcement officials told the Times that the conversation with Muhammad was focused on minor matters, such as arranging for a shower, rather than "explaining the roots of his anger" as Blair reported.

Blair's story claimed to be based on the accounts of five unnamed law enforcement sources. Times editors did not ask Blair who those sources were prior to publication.

-On March 27, Blair wrote under a dateline from Palestine, W.Va., about the family of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, a POW rescued in Iraq. He described how Lynch's father "choked up as he stood on his porch here overlooking the tobacco fields and cattle pastures." The porch overlooks no such thing, the Times said, and no member of Lynch's family remembers talking to Blair. The Times said some of the Lynch articles also contained material apparently lifted from the AP.

-On April 6, Blair reported on a Cleveland church service attended by a reverend whose son had been pronounced dead in Iraq the previous day. The Times said there was no evidence Blair was at the service and that his article lifted at least six passages from other news sources, including The Washington Post.

When he joined the paper, Blair was assigned to the metropolitan desk. But because of mistakes and unprofessional behavior, the Times said, Metropolitan Editor Jonathan Landman wrote an April 2002 e-mail message to newsroom administrators saying, "We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now."

Blair's performance improved after he took a leave for personal problems and was warned that his job was at risk, according to the paper. But he began pushing for assignments on other desks, and Landman reluctantly signed off on a plan to send Blair to the sports department, with a briefing to the editor there.

Blair had just moved to the sports desk when he was sent to the newspaper's national desk to help cover the sniper shootings in the suburbs of Washington. National editors said they were not informed of Blair's earlier performance problems.

"By the end of that month, public officials and colleagues were beginning to challenge his reporting," the Times said. "By November, the investigation has found, he was fabricating quotations and scenes, undetected.

"By March, he was lying in his articles and to his editors about being at a court hearing in Virginia, in a police chief's home in Maryland and in front of a soldier's home in West Virginia."

The Times said Blair was aided in his deception by the use of laptops and cell phones - which prevented his editors from knowing where he was - and his access to databases of news articles and photographs, from which he took details of places he had never been.

The Times said its investigation was "focused on correcting the record and explaining how such fraud could have been sustained within the ranks of The New York Times," and Executive Editor Howell Raines said he would assign a task force of newsroom employees to identify lessons for the newspaper.

The Times article said Raines repeatedly quoted a lesson he learned from A.M. Rosenthal, one of his predecessors as executive editor: "When you're wrong in this profession, there is only one thing to do. And that is get right as fast as you can."

---

On the Net:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com

By TARA BURGHART Associated Press Writer



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: blair; corrupt; fraud; jaysonblair; journalists; liars; newspaper; nyt; times

1 posted on 05/11/2003 3:27:17 AM PDT by kattracks
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To: kattracks
The investigation showed that while he was filing stories with datelines from around the country, Blair was often in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, even filing expense receipts from stores and restaurants there.

This guy's crime was that he was using other people's material. If this guy had stuck to making up headlines and proving his points through creative writing, he would have been just fine. That's how the media does business. He wrote over 600 articles. The Times looked the other way for this guy until they just couldn't anymore.

2 posted on 05/11/2003 3:45:12 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
More than one Clymer...
3 posted on 05/11/2003 5:14:24 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: kattracks
Blair was part of a Diversity Journalism program.

I guess the color of ones skin is more important than whether they tell the truth or not.
4 posted on 05/11/2003 5:24:58 AM PDT by Guillermo (Sic 'Em!)
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To: kattracks
N.Y. Times: Ex-Liberal-Reporter 'Committed Fraud'
5 posted on 05/11/2003 5:30:50 AM PDT by DoctorMichael (...............ooooo-shu-be-do-wop.................)
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To: kattracks
I wish he had written about those black churches burning in Arkansas, that Clinton mentioned. - Tom
6 posted on 05/11/2003 5:46:27 AM PDT by Capt. Tom
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To: kattracks
They've known this since 2002. The only reason it' s out in the open now is that another newspaper called them on it. Wonder if the Times tried to get that other paper to keep quiet? I haven't seen anyone ask that question yet...
7 posted on 05/11/2003 5:49:12 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: kattracks
Rather odd that outsiders had to expose the "journalist". One has to wonder what else is locked in the NYT closet. "All the news fit to print", sure it is.
8 posted on 05/11/2003 5:52:23 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: kattracks
If it had been a less liberal paper in the center of the controversy, Jesse Jackson and Johnnie Cochran would be on its doorstep howling in harmony about a "rush to judgment."
9 posted on 05/11/2003 5:53:44 AM PDT by Kevin Curry
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To: kattracks
"The Times cited several reasons for not detecting the problems with Blair, including 'a failure of communication among senior editors; few complaints from the subjects of (Blair's) articles; his savviness and his ingenious ways of covering his tracks.'"

Couldn't be because he is a minority and diversity is everything, could it?
10 posted on 05/11/2003 6:44:56 AM PDT by ImpotentRage
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To: kattracks
This is why I'm so skeptical of "unnamed sources." It's just too easy to make something up and attribute it to an unnamed source.
11 posted on 05/11/2003 7:08:51 AM PDT by alnick ("Never have so many been so wrong about so much." - Rummy)
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To: mewzilla
They've known this since 2002. The only reason it' s out in the open now is that another newspaper called them on it. Wonder if the Times tried to get that other paper to keep quiet? I haven't seen anyone ask that question yet...

Remember that the other paper not only "asked" the Times to investigate, but also leaked the data to Howard Kurtz as well, who published it. I believe it wasn't even 36 hours from initial complaint until Blair was shown the door "resigned."

12 posted on 05/11/2003 8:43:59 AM PDT by Timesink
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To: kattracks
Liberal journalism is all about distorting the facts or just making them up to fit their agenda. It's been going on for years; Pulitzers have even been awarded to work that was pure fantasy pawned off as fact.

In a way I don't blame this young reporter for doing what he did--he was just emulating what his peers taught him and taking it to the next level.
13 posted on 05/11/2003 8:46:03 AM PDT by randog
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To: kattracks
Ummmm... I think the News paper realizes the push from the right, and knows it is guilty of many of the same things Blair is. I think they wanted to put on a little show, and Blair was the fall guy...
14 posted on 05/11/2003 8:53:02 AM PDT by sit-rep
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To: kattracks
Times Watch
15 posted on 05/11/2003 9:05:22 AM PDT by Republican_Strategist (Win the War on Terrorism - Bomb Iraq!)
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To: kattracks
I'll remember this incident every time I hear one of the useful idiots rattling on about the Internet and "its lack of filters" and how sites like Drudge Report can't be trusted because of the lack thereof.
16 posted on 05/11/2003 10:20:06 AM PDT by dwollmann
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To: Guillermo
"I guess the color of ones skin is more important than whether they tell the truth or not."

Also more important than whether the guy has even graduated from a school of journalism. This guy failed to complete his course of studies and yet got a NYT internship and was then hired on as a reporter. This is a job most experienced journalists with degrees cannot get. The NYT promoted an inexperienced rank amateur over the heads of well-trained and seasoned professionals. They knew exactly what they were doing and yet went ahead anyway. The question is --

"Why ?"

It can't be the color of his skin only, because there are plenty of qualified black journalists out there.

17 posted on 05/11/2003 12:58:00 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: randog
"...he was just emulating what his peers taught him and taking it to the next level."

He made the mistake of getting caught. He wasn't taught to do that. In fact, he had plenty of examples before him of what happens when even experienced reporters get caught -- at the Boston Globe, at The New Republic, etc.

18 posted on 05/11/2003 1:03:26 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: kattracks
The Times has a long history of lying. I'm surprised this guy wasn't promoted.

Wonder if Arthur and Howell will blame this on the vast, right wing controlled, media cabal.

19 posted on 05/11/2003 1:50:38 PM PDT by mcenedo
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To: alnick
People don't even listen to named sources and photos regarding the Ron Brown crash. They called it 'an urban myth' in Snopes, even though four forensic specialists in the Military stuck to their guns as they were drummed out of the military and one, Kathleen Janowski was even threatened with execution by the military brass. Ah but that can't be so because, well because...er... it can't be so.
20 posted on 05/13/2003 3:09:11 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March (LIBERTY or DEATH!)
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To: Bonaparte
"Why ?"

Some information from the L.A. Times:

The least credible and complete portion of the Times' account is its categorical denial that the unusual tolerance and solicitude the paper accorded Blair, who is African American, had anything to do with his race. Like other major American news organizations, the Times has in recent years made strenuous efforts to compensate for the decades of discrimination that kept women and minority reporters out of their newsrooms. The New York Times, in particular, has had demonstrable difficulties recruiting and retaining black reporters and editors.

The Times report is candid about the severe criticisms directed at Blair by the two metropolitan editors — Joyce Purnick and Jonathan Landman — prior to his assignment to the paper's national staff. It is less forthcoming about the close mentor-protégé relationship that apparently existed between Blair and the Times' managing editor, Gerald Boyd, who also is African American. By the Times' account, Boyd was head of a committee that recommended Blair be hired, despite the reservations of other editors. Boyd, along with Raines, pushed the inexperienced reporter with a poor record onto the prestigious national staff.

What the Times does not note is that in 2001 it was the tyro Blair who nominated Boyd for the National Assn. of Black Journalists' journalist of the year award for his role in producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning series "How Race Is Lived in America." When Boyd subsequently was promoted to managing editor, according to sources at the Times, Blair was selected to write the announcement for the paper's in-house newsletter.

21 posted on 05/13/2003 4:25:08 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: kattracks
Brings to mind Pres. Johnson's mistress, Kearns, who was caught. But after time passed she did make appearances on again some cable news programs. Still, it did hurt a lot.
22 posted on 05/13/2003 4:30:07 AM PDT by Dante3 (.)
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To: kattracks
http://www.inform.umd.edu/News/Diamondback/archives/2003/05/12/cartoon.html

Go to the above website. This cartoon was printed in The Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s newspaper. This clown Blair used to work there before he dropped out of UMD and went to making up stories for the NYT. Below is what I wrote to The Diamondback, hoping they would print it as a guest column. I suppose it was too scathing. Anyway, my point, is if this is what college newspapers allow, and papers like the NYT hire these clowns, then we should not be shocked or surprised when guys like Blair finally get caught.

To the Editors:

A friend directed my attention to the Editorial Cartoon in the latest edition of The Diamondback. I do not know whether to be angry or amused, perhaps just sadly disappointed. I will confess to being shocked, being forty-five years old and a career veteran of the United States Navy, at my naiveté.

Why am I naïve? Because I was under the impression that the University of Maryland, or any university for that matter, was in the business of educating children to become functioning adults in our society. The cartoon by Mr. Friedman indicates otherwise, shows not only a total lack of respect for Governor Ehrlich, it implies a juvenile mentality not only on his part but also on the editors of The Diamondback. I can see Mr. Friedman impressing editors using this cartoon in future employment interviews. Perhaps he can find work at the New York Times, as did Jayson Blair, another fine example of fair and professional journalism from the ranks of The Diamondback.

Would the editors allow Mr. Friedman to print the words the hand symbol represents in the paper? I think not. I learned years ago that an individual who resorts to cursing has run out of things to say. It is obvious that Mr. Friedman has nothing original to say and it is sad that the editors allow the ranting of a child. It makes one wonder on the teaching methods at the university that allows for a shocking lack of _expression, but also the low standards of The Diamondback. Considering the recent news of Jayson Blair and his connection with The Diamondback, perhaps one should not wonder at all.

I am sure that Mr. Friedman’s intention was to shock and I will confess that he did. I am equally positive that my letter will not be the only one you receive negatively commenting on Mr. Friedman’s freedom of speech. I am not suggesting that Mr. Friedman should not exercise his God given right of free speech. However, like a child that utters the profanity it hears at home in the open market, Mr. Friedman must learn that there is a time and place for vulgarisms. The time and place is not in a venue which sole purpose is the _expression of ideas and the reporting of items of interest to the UMD campus.

One question I have for the young Mr. Friedman – when you drew this cartoon – an amateurish attempt by the way – did you take into consideration how this will make Governor Ehrlich’s wife and children feel? For the editors – is that what you consider responsible journalism? If so, than I am not surprised that you allowed Mr. Friedman’s socialistic shock cartoon. Considering the attention Jayson Blair brings to The Diamondback, this seems to be the quality of people you obviously like to attract and work on your paper.

In the interest of fairness, would you allow the printing of a rebuttal cartoon featuring former Governor Glendening? Considering that Governor Ehrlich has not yet signed a budget and not responsible for the fiscal woes the state and university now encounter, by using your artistic logic, a cartoon representing what former Governor Glendening accomplished would probably be fit for a magazine such as Hustler. Right up your alley, so to speak.

In conclusion, I want to be as blunt as possible so that there is no misunderstanding. The cartoon was not funny, was disrespectful to the Governors family, indicated a severe lack of knowledge of how government works by young Mr. Friedman, and the artistic quality – well, let us just say it is somewhat lacking. Your editorial control, with Mr. Friedman and Jayson Blair as examples, is also lacking. However, I will continue to pick up the Diamondback. I have three cats at home and they find great use of the paper. Besides, it is free.

23 posted on 05/13/2003 4:46:24 AM PDT by 7thson (I think it takes a big dog to weigh a 100 pounds.)
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To: kattracks
Sounds like Jason Blair's articles would fit right in with some of the crap written in newspapers around the world and posted on FR. Sure we post some of them to mock and have fun. When I hear or read the word "source" as in unamed, etc I instantly place that information in the "not to be taken seriously file".
24 posted on 05/13/2003 4:50:31 AM PDT by not-an-ostrich
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To: kattracks
The First Amendment stricture,
". . . no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ."
means that the government forbidden to require a standard of reliabiliy on books, magazines, or newspapers. The writers are not under oath, and are not subject to penalties for perjury.

That is essential for freedom of thought and opinion to flourish. It does now occur to me, however, that there could be an analog to the "super marriage" concept being tried in, I believe, Louisiana. That concept being, that the "super marriage" vows are more binding, more respected by the state and divorce more difficult than in "regular" marriage.

The incentive to enter a "super marriage" is, simply, that refusal to enter into it is much like insisting on a prenuptial agreement--it implies a limitation of trust which both partners should have in each other before marriage in any event.

Perhaps there should be a "super journalism" entered into voluntarily by a news organization, and by its reporters individually as a condition of employment. That "super jouralism" would subject its practitioners to the penalties of perjury for knowingly false publication, including the insinuation that you know something when you do not in fact know it. The incentive to enter "super journalism" would be, simply, that refusal to do so would be denial of your proud boasts of "journalistic ethics"--a refusal to put your money where your mouth is.

Theoretically, FCC-licensed broadcasters already are subject to that sort of standard; the FCC certifies by law that the licensees are "broadcasting in the public interest as a public trustee"--and is charged with enforcing a prohibition on the transmission of false signals. We saw in the aftermath of the "Gore Wins Florida" announcement, tho, how seriously that law is taken. The discussion on Wednesday morning was not about the error broadcast Tuesday night at 7:50, but about the blood relation between GWB and the analyst who first correctly called "Bush wins Florida."

So my "super journalism" proposal is unserious, meant to dramatize the contrast between the claims of journalistic "objectivity" and the reality of journalistic cowardice/herd mentality. And to illustrate Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate


25 posted on 05/13/2003 5:21:31 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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