Skip to comments.Witnesses and Documents Unveil Deceptions in a Reporter's Work [NY TIMES RETRACTIONS]
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May 11, 2003
Witnesses and Documents Unveil Deceptions in a Reporter's WorkBy THE NEW YORK TIMES
ollowing is an accounting of the articles in which falsification, plagiarism and similar problems were discovered in a review of articles written by Jayson Blair, a reporter for The New York Times who resigned May 1. The review, conducted by a team of Times reporters and researchers, concentrated on the 73 articles Mr. Blair wrote since late October, when he was given roving national assignments and began covering major news events including the Washington-area sniper attacks and the rescue of Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch. Spot checks of his previous stories also found errors of fact and possible fabrications.
Detective Says Sniper Suspect Was Interrogated After He Requested Lawyer
APRIL 29, 2003
DENIED REPORTS Michael S. Arif, a lawyer for Lee Malvo, the younger of two men charged in the Washington-area sniper attacks last fall, was quoted as saying: "Not one of Mr. Malvo's five attorneys who had been appointed by the court to represent him was given any information about the action taken." Through a law partner, Thomas B. Walsh, Mr. Arif said he had not spoken to Mr. Blair that day or uttered the quoted words to anyone.
FACTUAL ERRORS The first sentence of the article stated that Detective June Boyle, the lead Fairfax County investigator in the sniper case, testified that she continued to interrogate Mr. Malvo without a lawyer after he had requested one. While Detective Boyle acknowledged in her testimony that Mr. Malvo had asked a question "Do I get to see my attorneys?" she did not say that he had invoked his right to counsel. In a later ruling, the judge in the case found that Mr. Malvo's question was not an unambiguous request for the assistance of counsel.
In Military Wards, Questions and Fears From the Wounded
APRIL 19, 2003
WHEREABOUTS The scenes described in the article took place ostensibly inside a ward of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. But Lt. Cmdr. Jerry Rostad, the public affairs officer for the center, said there was no record that Mr. Blair had visited or interviewed patients there.
DENIED REPORTS Of the six wounded soldiers quoted in what Mr. Blair described as "long conversations" at the medical center, one, Lance Cpl. James Klingel, said he was interviewed by Mr. Blair, but by telephone from his home in Lodi, Ohio, after he had been discharged. Telephone records described by Times officials suggest that Mr. Blair made this 27-minute call from his desk at the paper in New York on April 17. Three men Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ewers and Hospitalman Brian Alaniz said they had not spoken to Mr. Blair, Commander Rostad said. (Two others could not be reached.)
In a telephone interview, Corporal Klingel said that Mr. Blair had manufactured or embellished parts of the article. He said that, for example, the following quotation attributed to him by Mr. Blair had been made up: "I am still looking over my shoulder. I am sure I will be standing on the back porch and worry about who might come shooting at me out of the bush."
Corporal Klingel also disputed the portion of the article that described him as "disheartened because he will most likely limp the rest of his life and need to use a cane." He said he was neither limping nor using a cane now.
In addition, he denied he had told Mr. Blair he was having nightmares about his tour in Iraq. And he said he had not spoken to Mr. Blair about "his mind wandering from images of his girlfriend back in Ohio to the sight of an exploding fireball to the sounds of twisting metal," as Mr. Blair described.
Because he interviewed Corporal Klingel by phone, Mr. Blair was not in a position to describe him as he did in his article: speaking from a hospital bed and contemplating a visit to a chaplain, as Sergeant Alva lay in the bed next to him.
Reached by phone, Sergeant Alva's mother, Lois, declined to comment. But Commander Rostad said that Sergeant Alva contended that he did not say any of the comments attributed to him by Mr. Blair. These included the following: "But in more private moments last week in the hospital, Sergeant Alva acknowledged that he had anger that he directed inward and toward the news media that he said were too hard on soldiers and a public that he said did not really understand the costs of war. `There is no point in explaining how I feel,' he said, `because no one really is going to be able to understand it.' "
Later in the article, Mr. Blair wrote: "Sergeant Alva, who has had 10 operations since stepping on the mine on March 22, blames himself for the injuries of Seaman Alaniz, who is 28. If he had not been dumb enough to step on the mine, Sergeant Alva concluded, his friend would have never been injured."
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair erroneously described Hospitalman Alaniz as a seaman and as being "down the hall" from Sergeant Alva and Corporal Klingel at the medical center. Hospitalman Alaniz was discharged on April 9, five days before Corporal Klingel's arrival, Commander Rostad said. In addition, the article stated that Sergeant Alva had lost his right leg; his right leg had been amputated below the knee.
A Couple Separated by War While United in Their Fears
APRIL 15, 2003
WHEREABOUTS The article's dateline the label of the place and, ordinarily, the time where the reporting was done was given as Jacksonville, N.C., April 11. According to The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, "Because believable firsthand news gathering is The Times's hallmark, datelines must scrupulously specify when and where the reporting took place."
But in a telephone interview, Sarai Thompson, whose husband is a marine stationed in Iraq, said she had been interviewed by Mr. Blair by phone, not in person.
Former P.O.W. Return Home for Treatment at Army Hospital
APRIL 13, 2003
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair wrote that while waiting for Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch to arrive back in the United States, her family stayed at the Melrose House, an Army hotel in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There is no hotel of that name in the complex.
For One Pastor, the War Hits Home
APRIL 7, 2003
WHEREABOUTS It does not appear that Mr. Blair was at the church service in Cleveland on April 6 that he described. The associate minister described in the piece, the Rev. Tandy Sloan, said in a telephone interview that he did not recall meeting, seeing or being interviewed by him. A Times official recently checked with the hotel that Mr. Blair said he had stayed at, but it had no record of his stay.
PLAGIARISM Mr. Blair appears to have borrowed substantial portions of his article from an article in The Washington Post, which appeared March 29 under the byline of Tamara Jones. For example, Mr. Blair wrote: "The senior pastor, the Rev. Larry Howard, opened the prayer service by reminding the several hundred people who had gathered that God was `bigger than Hussein.' Mr. Sloan bowed his head and closed his eyes. He could hear the women, mostly family members, weeping behind him, and, as he recalls, he started to cry. `We still have hope,' Mr. Sloan said after taking the pulpit. `Hope hasn't gone anywhere.' " He also described Mr. Sloan "with his head slumped."
Ms. Jones wrote: "Now, as the Rev. Larry Howard opened the prayer service for Brandy Sloan, reminding several hundred congregants that `God is bigger than Hussein,' Tandy Sloan closed his eyes and bowed his head." She later wrote: "His broad shoulders slumped, and in four pews filled with his extended family, he could hear the women softly weeping. Then Howard invited Sloan to speak, and he climbed behind the pulpit." She also described: " `We still have hope,' he began. `Hope hasn't gone anywhere.' "
Mr. Blair also used, without attribution, quotations that had appeared in articles by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Daily News in New York.
DENIED REPORTS Mr. Blair described Mr. Sloan, at the April 6 service, as "gazing at a photograph" of his son inside his Bible. Mr. Sloan said he did not have a photograph of his son inside his Bible at the service.
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair referred to Mr. Sloan's church at one point as "Historical Greater Friendship Baptist Church." It is "Historic Greater Friendship Baptist Church," which he rendered correctly later in the article.
Family Begins Trip to Rejoin Freed Soldier
APRIL 6, 2003
WHEREABOUTS: An article about the decision by the parents of Private Lynch to fly to Germany to meet her while she was undergoing treatment there carried a dateline of Charleston, W.Va., April 5. But the hotels in the area have no record of Mr. Blair's checking in. And an editor in the national department of The Times said he saw Mr. Blair in the newsroom in New York shortly after 4 that afternoon. The editor, who had been under the impression Mr. Blair was in Charleston when he spoke to him late that morning, asked Mr. Blair how he had returned to New York so quickly. Mr. Blair said he had taken a 2:30 p.m. flight. There does not appear to have been such a flight that day. And there are calls made from his desk extension to towns in West Virginia beginning at 2:20 p.m., phone records indicated.
FACTUAL ERRORS The article stated that Private Lynch's family had flown to Germany on a commercial flight; Brandi Lynch, Private Lynch's sister, said in a telephone interview that the H.J. Heinz Company's private jet had been made available to the family.
Gifts and Offers for Book Deals Arrive at Rescued Private's House as She Has Surgery
APRIL 5, 2003
WHEREABOUTS For this article, Mr. Blair reported ostensibly from Palestine, W.Va., on April 4. But local hotels have no record of Mr. Blair's visiting around that time. Mr. Blair filed an article the same day with a dateline of Fairfax, Va., reporting on the legal proceedings against the Washington-area sniper suspects.
PLAGIARISM Mr. Blair quoted Private Lynch's father, Gregory Lynch Sr., as saying that he was "truly grateful" to the Iraqi lawyer who led United States forces to his daughter, and that the lawyer "would get a world of hugs out of that heroic deal." Mr. Lynch made those statements to other news organizations, not in an interview with Mr. Blair, a review of other publications showed. Mr. Lynch told The Washington Post that he never spoke to Mr. Blair. And Brandi Lynch told The Times that her father never spoke to Mr. Blair.
Tapes Hint at Possible Flaws in Sniper Suspect Confession
APRIL 5, 2003
FACTUAL ERRORS Detective Boyle is described as a 21-year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department. She is a 26-year veteran, according to Lt. Amy Lubas, the commander of the department's public information office.
Freed Soldier Is in Better Condition Than First Thought, Father Says
APRIL 4, 2003
WHEREABOUTS As with all articles Mr. Blair filed from Palestine, W.Va., no hotels in Mineral Wells, the nearby town where many reporters covering the Lynch family stayed, have records of Mr. Blair's reserving or paying for a room.
PLAGIARISM Quotations appear to have come from an Associated Press article by Allison Barker that was written on April 3. For example, Ms. Barker related the following quotation and description of Mr. Lynch: " `They have successfully done one surgery on her,' he said, smiling as he joked about pink casts for her broken limbs. `There will be other surgeries, and it's going to take time and patience. She's in real good spirits.' "
Mr. Blair used most of the quotation verbatim, but slightly changed the description of Mr. Lynch, writing that he "smiled as he joked about her getting pink casts for her broken legs." Mr. Blair also wrote of Private Lynch, "She's in really good spirits."
Rescue in Iraq and a Big Stir' in West Virginia
APRIL 3, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Hotels in the vicinity of Palestine, W.Va., had no record of Mr. Blair. His co-writer, as well as a photographer who was stationed at the Lynch home for The Times, said they did not see Mr. Blair. Mr. Blair gave his editors and his co-writer a number where he could be reached on April 2, the day the article was written. The number belonged to Glenda and Donald Nelson, friends of the Lynch family; the Nelsons said that they never met or spoke to Mr. Blair. The Nelsons live in Marmet, W.Va., about a two-hour drive from Palestine.
PLAGIARISM Mr. Blair described the Nelsons' talking about Private Lynch and a letter they had received from her: "Ms. Nelson and her husband, Donald, sat in their kitchen today, staring at their own letter from Private Lynch, which arrived on Monday. In the time it took the letter, dated March 18, to make its way from Kuwait, Private Lynch's unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, was attacked during some of the first fighting in Nasiriya, she was declared missing in action for five days and yellow ribbons began to pop up all over town.
" `We just bawled like babies when we got the letter,' Mr. Nelson said today. `It just tore us apart to think of how scared she was or what might have happened to her.' "
In an Associated Press article that ran on April 2, Ms. Barker wrote: "Before the war started, Private Lynch wrote a letter to family friends Glenda and Don Nelson. The letter, dated March 18, arrived on Monday. `She said she was ready to go to war and was just waiting on President Bush's word, but I could tell she was scared,' said Don Nelson. `We bawled like babies when we read it. It tore us up.' "
Mr. Blair also used details and quotations about a shopping trip to Charleston that was recounted in an Associated Press article from March 25.
In addition, Mr. Nelson's quotation about Private Lynch being "a wholesome West Virginia country girl" appears to have been adapted from a comment in the April 2 Associated Press article made by Lorene Cumbridge, a cousin of Private Lynch. "She's just a West Virginia country girl. Warm-hearted. Outgoing," Ms Cumbridge said.
The Last Stop on the Journey Home
APRIL 1, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair's article, about the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, took place ostensibly at the base on March 31. Second Lt. Cathy L. Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the 512th Airlift Wing at the base, whom Mr. Blair interviewed by phone around that time, said in a telephone interview that she was "100 percent" sure that Mr. Blair had not visited the base to interview people for this article.
DENIED REPORTS Mr. Blair quoted Lieutenant Milhoan as saying of the reservists who staff the military mortuary: "They have really been taxed both logistically and emotionally."
Lieutenant Milhoan said that Mr. Blair had inserted the reference to logistics into her comment and that she had spent considerable time during the interview explaining that the Iraq operation presented no logistical challenge to the reservists working at the mortuary. "There were plenty of people," she said. "This is our mission. This is what we do." She said she called Mr. Blair on April 1 to discuss her concern with him, after he had e-mailed her a link to the article on The New York Times Web site. Lieutenant Milhoan said he had apologized.
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair wrote that the base, to assist in the handling of soldiers' remains, "brought in 58 reservists from a local wing in Delaware and eight more from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland." Shortly after the article appeared, Lieutenant Milhoan told Mr. Blair that the correct figures were 42 Dover reservists and 16 Andrews Air Force Base reservists, according to an e-mail message that a Times official described.
For Families of the Dead, a Fateful Knock on the Door
MARCH 31, 2003
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair embellished certain details while incorporating notes from a co-author into the article. He wrote that Stacy L. Menusa and her 3-year-old son were "standing in the driveway of her parents' home" when two marines arrived with news of her husband's death. Ms. Menusa, in a recent interview, said that she and her son were inside the house at the time.
Relatives of Missing Soldiers Dread Hearing Worse News
MARCH 27, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Although this article about the relatives of soldiers missing in combat in Iraq carried a March 26 dateline from Palestine, W.Va., Mr. Blair's cellphone records, described to reporters by William E. Schmidt, an associate managing editor of The Times, indicate that he was in New York. In addition, several people at the Lynch home including photographers and other reporters said they had not met or seen Mr. Blair there. And the hotels nearest to Palestine have no record of Mr. Blair's staying there.
PLAGIARISM In the article, Mr. Blair described the anguish of the Estrella family whose son was one of the eight members of the 507th Maintenance Company listed by the Pentagon as whereabouts unknown. " `We don't know anything. Not knowing anything is so hard,' said Ruben Estrella, whose 18-year-old son, Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto of El Paso, is among the members of the 507th listed as missing. `I can't take this waiting.' " An Associated Press article, written from El Paso on March 26, quoted Ruben Estrella as saying, "We don't know anything, not knowing anything. It's been three days of waiting."
DENIED REPORTS Mr. Blair quoted Kimberly Cieslak, whose brother, Sgt. Donald Walters, was missing. Ms. Cieslak said she did not recall speaking to Mr. Blair, although she did remember speaking to a different reporter for The Times for a later story.
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair wrote that tobacco fields and cattle pastures were visible from the porch of the Lynch home. Brandi Lynch said there is no such view. Mr. Blair wrote that Private Lynch's brother was in the National Guard in West Virginia. He is actually in the Army. Mr. Blair described a dream of Private Lynch's mother, Deadra Lynch; Brandi Lynch said her mother had not described any such dream. Mr. Blair also misspelled Deadra Lynch's first name.
Watching, and Praying, as a Son's Fate Unfolds
MARCH 25, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair does not appear to have traveled to Hunt Valley, Md., on March 24, as the article indicated. The article included interviews with the members of only one family Martha and Michael Gardner, the parents of Cpl. Michael P. Gardner II, a marine in Iraq, and his sister Cara. Martha Gardner said that he did not visit their home and that she spoke to him only by phone. Phone and other records suggest that Mr. Blair was in New York from 10:09 a.m. to 3:59 p.m. that day, and again the following morning.
DENIED REPORTS Mr. Blair described Ms. Gardner speaking as she was "turning swiftly in her chair to listen to an anchor report on a marine unit that had suffered heavy casualties in southern Iraq and about a group of soldiers that had been captured nearby." He also recounted other scenes, which a photographer for The Times did not recall describing to him.
FACTUAL ERRORS The sister of Corporal Gardner is named Cara, not Kara.
Chief in Sniper Case Considers a Job Change
MARCH 22, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair filed this profile of Charles A. Moose, the police chief in Montgomery County, Md., ostensibly from Gaithersburg, Md., on March 21, 2003. Mr. Blair's cellphone records did not indicate that any calls originated from or were received in Maryland that day.
DENIED REPORTS The article described Chief Moose as speaking "in an interview here in the apartment he shares with his wife, Sandy." A spokeswoman for Chief Moose said the quotations in the story were accurate but that the interview had been conducted over the phone, not in his apartment.
FACTUAL ERRORS Chief Moose's annual salary was listed as $120,000 in the article; it is $160,619. Joseph D. McNamara is a former police chief in San Jose, Calif., not San Diego. And the article misstated the name of a public body. It is the Montgomery County Council's public safety committee, not public safety commission.
Bearing the Worst News, Then Helping the Healing
MARCH 22, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair purported to write this article about the work of military officers assigned to notify families of soldiers killed on duty from Norfolk, Va. on March 21. A Times official said cellphone and other records indicated that Mr. Blair was in New York that day.
FACTUAL ERRORS Four people were quoted by name in this article concerning military officials who deliver the news of soldiers' deaths to their relatives, and two of those names were misspelled. Lt. Asha Fotos's surname was rendered as Potos on five occasions. And Chief Petty Officer Glen Gaynor's first name was given as Glenn.
Sniper Suspect Is Disciplined For Cell Graffiti
MARCH 8, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Phone records described to reporters by Times officials indicated there were calls made from Mr. Blair's desk in New York to Virginia at 11:46 a.m. on March 7, when the article was ostensibly written, and cellphone and computer records indicated that he remained in New York through the rest of the afternoon.
Judge in Sniper Case Bars Cameras From Trial
MARCH 4, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Cellphone records, which Mr. Blair had submitted for reimbursement, indicate that calls were made from New York between 2:16 p.m. and 10:50 p.m. on March 3, when the article was supposedly written. At 5:19 p.m., he sent an e-mail message to his editors, saying that he was in the Washington bureau and was about to send a draft of his story.
Making Sniper Suspect Talk Puts Detective in Spotlight
MARCH 3, 2003
WHEREABOUTS The article was written ostensibly in Fairfax, Va., on March 1. Mr. Blair's cellphone records indicated that no calls originated from outside New York between Feb. 27 and March 26. Phone and other computer records indicate that he was at his desk in New York.
DENIED REPORTS The article reported that statements made by Lee Malvo, the younger defendant in the Washington-area sniper shootings, during questioning by Detective Boyle on Nov. 7, 2002, had been videotaped. There is no videotape of the questioning, according to Lt. Amy Lubas, the commander of the public information office at the Fairfax County Police Department; there is only an audiotape. In addition, a quotation from one law enforcement official who had supposedly seen parts of the videotape described him as being in awe of Detective Boyle's performance. "To watch her is to watch a master," the official was quoted as saying. The quotation appears to be manufactured, because law enforcement officials said there was no videotape to be watched.
FACTUAL ERRORS Mr. Blair wrote that Detective Boyle, while investigating the death of a young woman in 1995, had noticed blood on the jeans of the woman's brother. According to the article, the detective was then able to build a circumstantial case that led to the man's confession. Lieutenant Lubas said that Detective Boyle did not notice the blood and that the brother did not confess. In addition, Detective Boyle was described as being dressed in her trademark combination of a blazer and black shirt. Lieutenant Lubas said that Detective Boyle did not have a trademark combination and preferred bright colors, not black.
Peace and Answers Eluding Victims of the Sniper Attacks
FEB. 10, 2003
WHEREABOUTS This Page 1 article carried a Feb. 8 dateline from Washington. Cellphone and other Times records indicate that Mr. Blair was in New York that day.
PLAGIARISM Mr. Blair quoted Mrytha Cinada, the daughter of a sniper victim who died, as saying, "That is a big hole in my life that will never be filled by anyone else." The quotation appears to have come from a story in The Washington Post that ran on Oct. 10, 2002, by two reporters, Sylvia Moreno and Darragh Johnson. Ms. Cinada said of Mr. Blair, "I never heard of him and I've never spoken to him."
DENIED REPORTS Penny Hannum, also quoted in the story, said she did not speak to Mr. Blair. It is not clear where her quotation came from. Kellie Adams, who was shot in a liquor store robbery in Montgomery, Ala., said she did not compare her background to those of the suspected snipers when she was quoted as saying, "There are similarities in our backgrounds, and I see bits and pieces of myself in even them."
FACTUAL ERRORS James Ballenger III said in a telephone interview that he is not a part-time preacher or any kind of preacher. Mr. Ballenger did not volunteer at the local prison; it was a paid position. He had not "relied heavily" on donations from others; he said he accepts them but does not rely on them. The article said that he took "a message of forgiveness to church pulpits and television programs across Louisiana, arguing ferociously that Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo should not be executed," referring to the two suspects arrested in the sniper shootings. Mr. Ballenger said he never addressed this topic from a church pulpit and that he made his points "peacefully." Ms. Adams did not suffer from back pain; she said she suffered from shoulder and neck pain.
OTHER ISSUES Mr. Ballenger said that he discussed the fact that his son, James IV, had dropped out of college on the condition that it not be published, and that he was upset to see it in the paper.
Gun Tests Said to Bolster Sniper Case
JAN. 25, 2003
WHEREABOUTS This article was written ostensibly in Washington on Jan. 24. That day, records indicated, calls were made from Mr. Blair's cellphone in New York beginning at 10:51 a.m. and continuing until 10:10 p.m.
In Absence of Parents, a Voice for the Accused
JAN. 19, 2003
WHEREABOUTS The article, about one of the lawyers for Lee Malvo, the younger of the two men accused in the sniper shootings last fall, had a dateline of Fairfax, Va., Jan 18. Calls originating in New York were made from Mr. Blair's cellphone that day beginning at 11:42 a.m. and continuing throughout the day until midnight, records indicated. In the middle of the afternoon he made a purchase at a Starbucks in Brooklyn, according to a receipt he submitted.
Like Sniper Case, Hearing for Youth Is Out of the Ordinary
JAN. 18, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Cellphone records indicate calls were made on Jan. 17 from New York at 3:43 a.m., 12:32 p.m., and then throughout the afternoon and into the evening until 11:11. The article was supposedly reported and written in Fairfax, Va., on that date.
Prints Reportedly Tie Sniper Suspect to Killing
JAN. 6, 2003
WHEREABOUTS This article was reported and written ostensibly in Washington on Jan. 5. But cellphone records described to reporters by Times officials indicate calls originating in New York were made beginning at 11:35 a.m. until 4:57 p.m. Mr. Blair, who stopped submitting expenses for reimbursement in the middle of January, ate at a restaurant in Brooklyn that day, according to a receipt he submitted for reimbursement.
Execution Opponent Joins Sniper Case
JAN. 2, 2003
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair ostensibly filed this article on Dec. 31, 2002, from Lexington, Va., where the subject of the profile, Roger D. Groot, is a law professor at Washington and Lee University. Professor Groot said that his quotations in the story were accurate, but that he had spoken to the reporter only by phone. Cellphone records indicate that Mr. Blair was making calls from New York between 9:31 a.m. until nearly midnight.
Teenager's Role Tangles Case Against Older Sniper Suspect
DEC. 22, 2002
WHEREABOUTS The article about how Mr. Malvo's supposed role in the sniper shooting was affecting the case against the older defendant, John Muhammad, carried a dateline of Centreville, Va., Dec. 19. Calls were made that day from Mr. Blair's desk and cellphone in New York beginning at 12:17 p.m. and ending at 11:59 p.m., records indicated.
DENIED REPORTS The article reported on supposed evidence from unnamed law enforcement officials showing that Mr. Malvo was the likely triggerman in most of the shootings. The commonwealth attorney in Fairfax County, Va., said in a recent interview that at least two of the five pieces of evidence cited in the article do not exist. The first is a videotape said to have been recovered from a security camera near the Home Depot parking lot in Falls Church, Va., where Linda Franklin was killed on Oct. 14, 2002, showing someone who appears to be Mr. Muhammad in the driver's seat. The second is a grape stem bearing Mr. Malvo's saliva said to have been found near the site of another shooting.
Acquittal in Shooting of Priest Splits a City
DEC. 18, 2002
WHEREABOUTS This article about divisions in Baltimore following the acquittal of a man who, claiming he had been molested by a priest as a child, shot the priest, was ostensibly reported and written in that city on Dec. 17. Records indicate that calls originating in New York on that date were made from Mr. Blair's desk phone, including calls to Baltimore. Calls were made from Mr. Blair's office extension as late as 10:06 p.m. In addition, Mr. Blair did not submit a train ticket receipt or ask to be reimbursed for other travel expenses.
OTHER ISSUES Mr. Blair used comments by Lee Gardner, editor of The Baltimore City Paper, that Mr. Gardner said he had stipulated could not be used with his name attached. Donna Jones Stanley, the executive director of the Associated Black Charities of Maryland, said Mr. Blair had used her comments out of context. Mr. Blair wrote that Ms. Stanley said that blacks were "happy that this young man did not have to pay the price for a broken system." Ms. Stanley said she had been speaking only for herself and did not say anything about the views of blacks in general.
Man Who Shot Priest in an Abuse Case Wins Acquittal
DEC. 17, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Cellphone and office phone records indicate that calls were made from New York throughout the day of Dec. 16, until 9:40 p.m., while the article was supposedly being written and reported in Baltimore.
Sniper Case Will Be First Test of Virginia Antiterrorism Law
DEC. 17, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Cellphone records indicate that Mr. Blair was in New York from 9:37 a.m. to 7:36 p.m. on Dec. 9, ostensibly when the article was written with a Washington dateline. There are no records of travel to Washington, and he appears to have been in the New York office the next day as phone calls to Virginia were made from his extension.
Laura Bush Visits the Youngest Sniper Victim
DEC. 13, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Cellphone bills that Mr. Blair submitted for reimbursement indicate that calls were made from New York beginning at 11:07 a.m. on Dec. 12 and continuing past midnight. He was supposedly in Washington that day to report and write this article.
Questions Over Reward for Tips in the Sniper Case
NOV. 27, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair was supposedly in Rockville, Md., on Nov. 26 to write the article. But receipts submitted for reimbursement include one from a Marshalls store in Brooklyn at 5:12 p.m. that day. On his expense form, he wrote that the purchase was for blankets for his hotel-room bed in Washington.
Attendance Requirement Leaves Colleges Sweating
NOV. 23, 2002
DENIED REPORTS An article about efforts by college football teams to increase attendance to comply with a new requirement of the National Collegiate Athletic Association quoted Pete Mahoney, the associate athletic director at Kent State. In a telephone interview, Mr. Mahoney denied making the quoted statement or speaking with Mr. Blair.
FACTUAL ERRORS The article said that the new N.C.A.A. rule setting minimum home-game attendance requirements "went into effect this season." In fact, the rule will go into effect in 2004.
OTHER ISSUES The article used a quotation from The San Jose Mercury News of Sept. 26, 2002, without attribution. Robert Caret, the president of San Jose State University, told that newspaper: "You can like it or not like it, but the fact of the matter is, of the institutions we want in our peer group, Division I football is one of our defining characteristics." Mr. Blair wrote only that Mr. Caret had made the comment earlier in the year.
In addition, The Daily Kent Stater, a student newspaper, published an article in December in which school officials took issue with Mr. Blair's reporting. The writer of the article, who said that he could not reach Mr. Blair because his voice-mail in box was full, then left detailed messages for The Times's sports department. No one at the paper responded to the messages.
Statements by Teenager May Muddy Sniper Case
NOV. 11, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Expense records, as described by Times officials, suggest that Mr. Blair traveled to New York from Washington on the weekend of Nov. 9 and did not not return to Washington until Nov. 11, the day after this article was filed with a Washington dateline. A receipt submitted with his expenses indicated that he bought $11.46 worth of cigarettes and magazines at Penn Station in New York on the morning of Nov. 11.
DENIED REPORTS In this article, Mr. Blair quoted Toby Vick, a former state and federal prosecutor in Virginia, about the dangers that the inclusion of Mr. Malvo's statements could have on Mr. Muhammad's trial. "It helps him with one of the statutes, the capital murder charge, but it does not help him on the terrorism charge," Mr. Vick said. "If you bring it in to prove he was not the shooter, prosecutors could bring it in to prove the terrorism charge, where you don't have to show the defendant fired the shot."
Mr. Vick has said that while he has spoken to Mr. Blair about the sniper case for previous articles, he is "fairly confident" that he did not make this statement.
Officials Link Most Killings to Teenager
NOV. 10, 2002
WHEREABOUTS Mr. Blair used The Times's travel agent to book a train ticket from Washington to New York on the evening of Nov. 8. Cellphone records indicate that he was in New York later that same night as well as the next day, at least between 11 a.m. and 4:46 p.m. While it is possible that Mr. Blair could have returned to Washington later that day, hotel records at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington show no additional charges to the room tariff. Food and phone charges were incurred between Nov. 4 and Nov. 8.
Sniper Suspects Linked to Yet Another Shooting
NOV. 2, 2002
FACTUAL ERRORS In an article about how investigators linked the Washington-area snipers to earlier shootings in other states, Mr. Blair described the recovery of a handgun used in a shooting in Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Blair wrote that "John Wilson, the chief of the Montgomery police, said a .22-caliber Magnum handgun that was stolen in Oklahoma was found on Wednesday in an area where an officer said he had chased Mr. Muhammad," one of the sniper suspects. In a telephone interview, Mr. Wilson said that the handgun was found in an area where a civilian said he had chased Mr. Malvo after a fatal shooting in the area on Sept. 21.
U.S. Sniper Case Seen as a Barrier to a Confession
OCT. 30, 2002
FACTUAL ERRORS In this article, Mr. Blair wrote about the way a dispute between local and federal prosecutors affected the interrogation of John Muhammad, a suspect in the sniper case. Mr. Blair wrote that two assistant United States attorneys from Maryland, James M. Trusty and A. David Copperthite, participated in discussions about whether the suspects should be charged by local or federal authorities. Neither official participated in the discussions, according to Thomas M. DiBiagio, the United States attorney for Maryland, whose account was confirmed by other law enforcement officials who participated in the meeting. The article also suggested inaccurately, Mr. DiBiagio said that Mr. Trusty and Mr. Copperthite were among the officials who had gathered to watch the interrogation of Mr. Muhammad.
OTHER ISSUES In the first sentence of the article, Mr. Blair wrote that Mr. Muhammad had been talking to investigators for more than an hour, "explaining the roots of his anger," when a federal prosecutor interrupted the interrogation and told investigators to deliver Mr. Muhammad to Baltimore. In the third paragraph of the article, he also quoted an anonymous law enforcement official as saying that "it looked like Muhammed was ready to share everything." The article drew a conclusion unwarranted by the reporting. According to local and federal law enforcement officials who monitored the interrogation, the conversations were aimed at building a rapport with Mr. Muhammad and he was not on the verge of a confession. The officials said that the interrogation had not yet broached any of the shootings, and that Mr. Muhammad was not discussing the "roots of his anger." Editors who worked on the article said that the story should have also acknowledged more promptly information from other Times reporters that contradicted Mr. Blair's account of the interrogation.
Cultural Groups Need Help
OCT. 20, 2001
FABRICATIONS A brief article concerning the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York cultural institutions said that the American Craft Museum was "already in serious financial trouble before Sept. 11." The assertion was not attributed. A correction published on Oct. 30, 2001, stated that "while lower-level staff members spoke of financial troubles that existed before Sept. 11, the director, Holly Hotchner, says the museum's finances are strong."
In defending his original reporting to his editors, Mr. Blair relied primarily on what he said were conversations with the museum's chief financial officer, who was said to have acted as a confidential source.
In a recent interview, the museum's chief financial officer then and now, Robert J. Salemo, said he never spoke with Mr. Blair. There is no evidence that Mr. Blair spoke with "lower-level staff members." Mr. Salemo said that the museum broke even that year.
Fighting Words: Whose Icon Is It?
SEPT. 29, 2001
FACTUAL ERRORS In an article about the effort by some family members of passengers on one of the aircraft hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, to trademark the phrase "let's roll," Mr. Blair quoted John F. Delaney, a lawyer, on what a trademark is. Mr. Blair quoted Mr. Delaney accurately but failed to identify him or his law firm correctly. Mr. Delaney's first name is John, not Jonathan, and he is a lawyer in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster, not Morrison & Forester.
In Side Effect of Economic Prosperity, White-Collar Crime Flourishes
MARCH 13, 2000
FACTUAL ERRORS An article about white-collar crime discussed the experiences of Gary Ahlert, who was said to have lost $400,000 on a plan to market a material to cover artificial limbs. That loss, the article added, made him eager to listen to a sales pitch concerning an investment in a mine in Arizona. In a recent telephone interview, Mr. Ahlert said he had not lost money on a marketing plan, though he did fail to collect a licensing fee of some $200,000 in connection with it. He added that the investment involved ore in a warehouse and not in a mine.
Readers with information about other articles by Jayson Blair that may be false wholly or in part are asked to e-mail The Times: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten days ago, Jayson Blair resigned as a reporter for The New York Times after the discovery that he had plagiarized parts of an article on April 26 about the Texas family of a soldier missing in Iraq. An article on Page 1 today recounts a chain of falsifications and plagiarism that unraveled when The Times began an inquiry into that Texas article. At least 36 more articles written by Mr. Blair since October reflected plagiarism, misstatements, misrepresentation of the reporter's whereabouts or a combination of those. An accounting of the flaws will be found on the right side of this page, as the first headline under "Related."
Today's article and the accounting result from a weeklong investigation by five Times reporters and a team of researchers. The newspaper organized it in the belief that the appropriate corrective for flawed journalism is better journalism accurate journalism.
The reporters have telephoned news sources cited by Mr. Blair and have interviewed other journalists who worked with him. Executives have read them summaries of telephone records and expense documents. To examine the newsroom processes that went awry, they have had unrestricted access to other Times staff members, including top editors, involved with Mr. Blair's copy and the management of his career. Within the limits of laws and ethical codes governing health and employment records, Times managers have described documents for the reporting team.
The reporters' examination has centered on the last seven months, a period in which Mr. Blair increasingly received assignments distant from the newsroom, which allowed him wider independence. His earlier work, done under closer supervision, will be spot-checked. If another major examination appears warranted, it will be carried out. Readers and news sources who know of defects in additional articles should send e-mail to
The Times: retrace@ nytimes.com.
In online databases that include copy from The Times, cautionary notices will be attached to the faulty articles in coming days.
The Times regrets that it did not detect the journalistic deceptions sooner. A separate internal inquiry, by the management, will examine the newsroom's processes for training, assignment and accountability.
For all of the falsifications and plagiarism, The Times apologizes to its readers in the first instance, and to those who have figured in improper coverage. It apologizes, too, to those whose work was purloined and to all conscientious journalists whose professional trust has been betrayed by this episode.
Isn't that what the NY Times is?
That's because this fellow was an affirmative action hire...so he was held to different "standards and qualifications". Isn't that they way our world works these days?
He was found out when a journalist in Texas noticed quotes from the mother of a soldier missing in action in Iraq which appeared in her story resurfacing almost verbatim in Blair's.
And until some editors' heads roll, I'm not impressed with this long-winded trip to the confessional.