Accuracy in Media

Jayson Blair’s publicity agent, Ted Faraone, e-mailed me in the wee hours this morning to say that I made “one huge mistake regarding Jayson” in my “otherwise excellent blog post” yesterday by reporting that Blair said his speech at Washington and Lee would be his last public comment on journalism. Faraone noted that Blair said he hopes it will be his last public comment on the topic.

That is a distinction without a difference, in my opinion. Blair wrote in the preface to his memoir that “I am the master of my own destiny,” so if he doesn’t want to comment publicly about journalism in the future, he won’t.

For the record, here is exactly what Blair said: “My intention, and my hope, is that this will be my last public comment on journalism. I hope to reserve future conversations about my career in journalism to private audiences of students and for individuals who might be able to benefit from my experience, learn from my mistakes and be inspired by my recovery.”

I do love the irony of the PR agent for a man who destroyed his own journalism career lecturing me about accuracy. Blair lied and plagiarized with abandon for months. His willful ethical transgressions were “huge mistakes.” At worst, I read too much into Blair’s own words. I actually thought he meant he wouldn’t be speaking publicly about journalism ever again.

Has the public heard the last from Jayson Blair? I hoped so until today, but Faraone’s e-mail holds open the possibility that Blair will have more to say about journalism. He was paid $3,000 for his appearance at Washington and Lee, the same fee he earned five years ago at Winston-Salem State University, so if the price is right …

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