Jayson Blair Was Wrong,
But He Had Accomplices
by Michael King
A New Visions Commentary
paper published July 2003 by The National Center for Public Policy
Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110,
Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail Project21@nationalcenter.org,
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
Fallout from the Jayson Blair controversy
continues at the New York Times.
The top editors were forced to resign.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter resigned over criticism that
he relied too much on stringers to produce his articles. The
newsroom is in shock.
Former Times reporter Jayson Blair was
wrong in what he did, period. He falsified quotes and facts and
plagiarized the work of others. It didn't matter in this instance
that he happens to be black. The secondary crime in all of this
was that he was treated with kid gloves because he is black.
Everyone keeps trying to make the two into one, but they are
No one besides maybe Blair, so far, disputes
that. What he did was wrong. It wouldn't matter if he was black,
white, red, green or blue. It still would be wrong.
The secondary issue, however, was not
Blair's fault. That fault lies directly with the editors and
the publisher of the Times. Instead of treating Blair with the
same aplomb and impartiality that they would do with anyone else,
the management at the Times chose to treat Blair in a politically
correct, hands-off manner.
The result is that the birds they released
are now coming home to roost.
I can't fault Blair for being black -
which is what so many folks are going out of their way to do.
But I can fault the now-departed Times Executive Editor Howell
Raines and his cronies for patronizing Blair and, by extension,
insulting all of the hard-working, well-educated and obviously
far more intelligent black journalists and columnists out there.
Jayson Blair's name will be the one that
goes down in history. Blair will bear the brunt of the people's
ire. The ones who will most likely be quickly forgotten - and
whose mindset will no doubt go uncorrected - are Raineses of
the world. These are the politically correct editors who will
continue to patronize blacks and look down their noses. They
are oblivious to the larger damage they do to black America every
day in general and black journalists in particular.
If anything, this should be a wake-up
call. This should force us to demand better treatment from the
press. It should force blacks to see leftists for the race-baiters
that they are. The National Association of Black Journalists
should be screaming from the rooftops.
But all we hear is more silence. It's
so much easier to blame the right as the "Big Bad Boogieman"
that seeks to "oppress" black America.
In a quiet room somewhere, as he sips
a cup of coffee while reading about the "Boogieman"
and Jayson Blair, I believe that Jesse Jackson is smiling knowingly.
(Michael King is a member of
the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership
network Project 21 and a freelance writer and Internet consultant
in Atlanta, Georgia. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author,
and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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