Black conservative commentary

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, Web 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 mutually exclusive.

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

Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.




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