By Mike Linn
Two weeks ago, a 27-year-old New York Times journalist resigned after committing various crimes against the trade: misquoting sources, quoting sources he never spoke to, lying about his whereabouts, plagiarism and fabricating stories so bad that his chronicles incited laughter from Virginia Beach to the Texas Panhandle.
Research conducted by NY Times staff revealed the journalist, Jayson Blair, had glaring errors in over 30 articles he wrote over the past six months.
Of Jessica Lynch’s family home, Blair wrote that it overlooked cotton fields and cattle pastures and was situated neatly on a hill.
Actually the Lynch home is in a valley, no cotton field or cattle pasture in sight.
The dateline revealed the writer was at her home, but phone records show Blair was in New York city at the time — where he typically was when he was supposedly all over the country covering events.
The first questions that came to mind were: Is the reporter afraid of air travel or is he just lazy? Does he think he can dupe the esteemed editors of the NY Times?
Dupe he did, certainly for six months and maybe even longer.
This character Blair — who editors say had a hankering for cheese doodles, scotch and cigarettes — has been described as one of the more infamous reporters whose name graced the venerable pages of the NY Times since its inception 127 years ago.
Some have described the NY Times as the best newspaper in the world, but now the paper is seeking a facelift, something to cover the welting dent Blair left behind in his trail of deceptions.
Here are some ideas:
• Since more than 30 of Blair’s articles in the past six months proved faulty in one way or another, I think next Sunday’s NY Times should be half price, with buy-one-get-one free coupons for large one toppings at Pizza Hut inserted somewhere in the sports section.
• The NY Times should also sponsor a George Bush vs. Dixie Chicks celebrity death match, somewhere in Las Vegas.
• Jayson Blair should teach a free Internet course on the concepts of writing fiction while chasing cheese doodles with a bottle of Chivas Regal and a pack of unfiltered Luckys.
• And lastly, I think Blair should write a memoir on how he tricked the “top editors” in the world. The memoir should then be published in the NY Times under the headline: “Fact or Fiction? You Make the Call, We Sure Couldn’t.”