The Jayson Blair epside: What took so long?

Fine, 27-year-old ex-New York Times reporter Jayson Blair has a very long history of fabrication and plagiarism. For example, 36 of the 73 articles he wrote since he arrived at the Times’s prestigious National Desk in late 2002 contain errors, many of which are brazen and outrageous. He made up quotes, pretended to be places he wasn’t, and generally wrote fiction.

So I have two questions:

1) Given his history — he had been warned in 2002 when he was still on the NY Times Metropolitan Desk for playing loose with the facts (one editor said in an email that Blair should be taken out of the paper entirely) — how did he end up as a national reporter mere months later?

My answer: Affirmative action almost certainly played a role. As Mickey Kaus points out, the Times’s Howell Raines was bragging to the National Association of Black Journalists about the Times’s affirmative action program, and specifically mentioning Blair, while Blair was already in hot water for making up stuff.

2) What took so long? I mean, the guy pretended to talk to people he hadn’t spoken with, said he was places that he wasn’t at, with people he wasn’t with, and so on. As any online journalist will tell you, you’ll be skinned very quickly for that sort of thing online. So why did no-one notice that Blair’s Times stories were so awry?

Some people did notice, but not enough apparently. You start to wonder if people read the paper critically. After all, Blair lied about being at the house of Michael and Martha Gardner as they listened to war missives while their son was fighting in Iraq — yet the parents clipped the article and thanked the Times for the piece.


  1. How many warnings did the editors of Times recieve?

  2. STOP making this a black and white issue. He was a liar and probably a drug addit. They should have a drug testing policy. And why did they hire him with sub standard skills he never graduated from college. If you are going to hire people of color for a job that require skills at least make sure they complete their education! I
    agreee that Howell Raines should be punished for flaughting he EEOC policy, but being fired is a little harsh! Make sure the punishment fit the crime. All companies should implement drug testing policies to stop these addits from managing our American businesses.

  3. Tired of excuses says:

    Please. Why is that when a non-brown/black person does something, he or she is the problem, but when a brown/black person does something, it is indicitive of an entire race? What does affirmative action have to do with Blair being a liar and a con-artist? Those of you who are against anyone other than whites prospering in this country make me ill. I wish that some of your ancestors would have complained about the treatment of my people, as you complain about the poor white people. If affirmative action is the issue, then what was the issue with the very rich, white, greedy enron execs? MCI execs? Or any other non-black/brown common thief? Has anyone served any prison time? If so, how many? Are they suffering from infectious greed? Oh yes, I forgot, when you are white, you are right. Steal a country, enslave generations of innocent people but whine foul when you feel that you aren’t getting EVERYTHING. Give me a break!!!!!

  4. Renette says:

    I wonder how this whole situation would have played out if the person in question were not of african-american descent. Granted, what occured was without a doubt wrong, but it is not indictive of all african-americans. And how does affirmative action play into this? What happened could have easily taken place with blacks, whites, women, gay, etc. This was just a man who thought that he could get away with false facts and lying. Let’s just the get rid of the race card once and for all.