Media Blog

Jayson Blair on Race and Merit

Daniel Glover of Accuracy in Media attended the “ethics” lecture of disgraced New York Times fabricator Jayson Blair at Washington and Lee University over the weekend. Of the finds he listed, I thought these were the most interesting. First, that race wasn’t much of a factor in his journalistic rise and fall:

Blair rejected the notion that his story should have any bearing on the future of other black journalists or efforts to achieve “diversity” in American newsrooms. “When you look at the facts of the case, I think race played very little role in either my rise or my fall. The people who have commented and said that it did, not only are they uninformed, they weren’t ever close to the situation.” Blair said his qualifications were “far above” any of those his age when he was hired. “And if you look at my fall, it has to do with my personal failings and nothing to do with my race. … It’s just a silly argument that to me is not even worth engaging in. The type of people who are gonna go and run with that, I’m not gonna ever change their minds.”

That’s pretty weird for a guy who titled his Times-bashing memoir Burning Down My Master’s House. (See the Clay Waters review for NRO on Blair dragging minorities in for grievances to pad the narrative.) Blair also thought there was nothing wrong with climbing the corporate ladder with aggressive networking:

He also downplayed the suggestion that he advanced professionally because of his personal connections rather than his skills. “Journalism, like any other profession, involves networking and relationships and other things like that….That’s just a natural part of any business, and I don’t think it’s necessarily incongruent with meritocracy. The idea that somebody would be your advocate doesn’t bother me.”

How Blair thinks his ascent was a natural phenonomenon of “meritocracy” — even as he made up people, places, and quotes — shows that perhaps his humility hasn’t quite fully arrived yet.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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