Jayson Blair: Jonah Lehrer's Lies Just as Stupid as Mine

Fellow disgraced reporter weighs in on fabrication scandal
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2012 12:13 PM CDT
Jayson Blair: Jonah Lehrer's Lies Just as Stupid as Mine
In this March 12, 2004 file photo, former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair   (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)

Jonah Lehrer's fabrication scandal gets the once-over today from none other than Jayson Blair, who admitted to plagiarism in his New York Times articles nine years ago. "It’s remarkable to me that someone who grew up professionally in the context of my scandal could make such a similar set of colossal mistakes," Blair writes in the Daily Beast (where, interestingly, Howard Kurtz—one of the reporters who brought Blair's fabrications to light—now works as Washington bureau chief). "It may sound funny coming from me, but I have to say fabricating quotes by Bob Dylan, who barely speaks publicly, was about as foolish as my fabricating quotes from prominent figures such as Jessica Lynch’s father."

So why did Lehrer do it? Blair figures the reporter's own success—three books, numerous articles, and a Rhodes scholarship by 31—is partly to blame. "Success, of course, brings with it the pressure to make each new publication better than the last," Blair writes, noting that such pressure is particularly intense in the newsroom. And the Internet, which was not nearly so powerful in 2003, contributed both to Lehrer's missteps—"it's so much easier to plagiarize" these days—and to his eventual downfall, because the Internet also makes it easier to get caught. What's next for Lehrer? As he navigates a post-journalism career path, Blair—who now works as a life coach—believes "he deserves a shot at redemption." Click for Blair's full column. (More Jayson Blair stories.)

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