Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Late on the bandwagon and so am I 

I read the Globe and Mail's profile of Jayson Blair in a coffee shop downtown yesterday. It was the usual standard stuff but this portion caught my eye, as I think Simon Houpt, the interviewer, meant it to do:

In his New Yorker review of Masters' House, Nicholas Lemann suggests the Times could prevent another Blair-like incident by creating a small team of researchers who would randomly spot-check and verify stories before publication. (This idea was first floated by the Times biographer Alex Jones immediately after the executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd fell on their swords last June.)

In some interviews, Blair acknowledges Lemann. Then at Hue Man Experience he tells the audience, "I actually have an innovative idea, to actually have someone inspect stories." There is no mention that others have already put forward the idea.

Hue Man is an African-American centered bookshop in Harlem where the audience had been really receptive to Blair and his "ideas." Can we just get down to the bottom line, which is that Blair's a sociopathic charmer? He has all the symptoms: ingratiating oneself with those above him in power while having little use or being downright hostile to his peers. Lying effortlessly and smoothly and fooling the bosses while others suspect but can never prove what he does (although of course, the Times eventually did.) I could go on, but I suspect the link I provided would have a lot more apt parallels to Blair's behavior.

And I really doubt he'll ever learn from his mistakes. Which means we'll be subjected to this crap at some point in the future, in some form or another.

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