March 14, 2004

Books Corner

The NYT reviews Jayson Blair's "Burning Down My Masters' House."

They are not kind to their old employee:

"Although Blair wrote more than 600 articles at The Times, he never communicates much in the way of great satisfaction in a piece well done or a scoop scored. His real enthusiasms seem to be barhopping, Scotch swilling, partying, cocaine scoring and snorting, joy riding the streets of New York City in the Times company car, and playing the toadying, push-and-shove high-risk game of office politics."

The paper is (a bit too) eager to point out that not only the NYT got hoodwinked by the shameless charlatan:

"After The Times uncovered Blair's deceptions, The Boston Globe reviewed his work there and found numerous examples of journalistic perfidy. Blair concocted news sources. He stole quotations from other newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. He invented quotations and stuck them into the mouths of real people, and appears to have made up a source out of whole cloth. And according to his former student journalist colleagues, Blair appears to have plagiarized The Associated Press in the school paper at the University of Maryland."

And the scope of the review is, er, a bit limited:

"Whether Blair got away with it because he was a clever cheat, or because The Times patronizes African-American employees, or because Gerald Boyd and Howell Raines were guilty black and white liberals, or because the newspaper became too invested in Blair's recovery from drugs and alcohol, is beyond the scope of this review." [emphasis added]

Still, Jack Shafer is right when he writes:

"The Times is a flawed, human institution that deserves every brick tossed at it except this one. Jayson Blair is a confessed con man, and ''Burning Down My Masters' House'' is just another installment in his ongoing con."

Indeed.

Posted by Gregory at March 14, 2004 02:57 PM
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