The PR firm handling Jayson Blair‘s return to the media world is shamelessly banking on what a liar he was.
In a press release to announce a story published under his byline in Surface Magazine, publicist Katherine O’Keefe writes: “Disgraced Journalist Jayson Blair Back In Print.” Many recall Blair as the journalist who resigned from the NYT in 2003 after he plagiarized and fabricated an array of stories. In many cases, he invented things out of whole cloth such as a man who died of a cocaine overdose instead of a heart condition. He also completely invented interviews that never happened and said he went to places he never visited.
Gushing with delicious disgust, the publicist continues, “Notorious former New York Times journalist Jayson Blair, infamously relieved of his duties for frequent fabrication and plagiarism, is back in print.”
Can you imagine the brainstorming session that went into that? Pure genius.
Come on Kathy, you really need to play up how disgraceful Jayson was to the profession. Like really fucking awful. He lied his ass off in the New York Times!!! Of course, she might say back, the more we play up how disgraceful he was, the better.
And so it goes with Blair’s return to print as he writes a story crapping on the media’s coverage of presumed GOP nominee Donald Trump. Senior editor Charles Curkin came up with the brilliant idea of commissioning the least trusted man in journalism write an essay on truth in media. You can’t bottle this kind of brilliance.
The headline on his story reads: JAYSON BLAIR ON WHERE THE FACTS LIE.
(See what they did there?)
The illustration accompanying the piece is painfully Pinocchio.
Blair explained how his post-Times life has been focused on the biggest ethical failing in media today, what he says is, “not calling a lie a lie.” He stated, “One shining example is coverage of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, the great American narcissist and not-so-great businessman.”
But plagiarism, fabrication, and bias are not the only—and are, perhaps, not the biggest—problems in journalism. One of the biggest problems in journalism today is not calling a lie a lie. Like an architect who speaks about form following function and then builds glass towers with concave facades in the direct path of the sun.
“In the land of lies,” Blair wrote eerily, “the biggest liar sometimes wins.”
Let’s hope he’s wrong about that.