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Friday, December 05, 2003

If you buy this book...

I will never speak to you again.

First, let's wipe our shoes before we walk in the house.

There. Now that we've gotten the mess out of our boot waffles, let's talk about why this sucks.

Jayson Blair, foe to journalists and black people everywhere, is not only published, but now a little on the financially comfortable side. Taking in a reported half million dollars, he can now afford to doff his respectable New York Times tie and don a comfortable t-shirt for the cover of his book Burning Down My Master's House: My Life at The New York Times.

If you don't know the backstory, it's a simple as this. Blair lied his way into a job, lied about what he was doing when he was at work, and eventually lied to every one of the times 1.4 million subscribers about the stories on which he reported.

It was at once the worst thing that could have ever happened to journalism. The promotion and publication of a compulsive liar and cheat. The punishment should've been a lifetime working at McDonalds. The reward was, instead, a book deal.

The book's publisher defends his decision to publish an admitted liar and cheat as (paraphrasing here), "Well, he's not the first bad boy to get a deal."

I wish someone would please open an ethics book and show me the section on how precedent makes something that is clearly wrong right.

Burning down my master's house? Blair blatantly used America's system for making good on years of oppression to rise to the level of the national desk at the New York friggin' Times. And he takes a slavery shot? Pardon me, but fuck him.

The worst thing about people like Blair (read: liars who get caught then blame the people who caught them) is they expect to be rewarded for finally telling the truth. Blair takes it one step further, apparently, by not only asking for a reward, but blaming the accuser for his telling the lies in the first place.

I know a guy who writes pretty damned well. His political leanings don't always jibe with mine, but I've never held that against anybody. Especially when they tell the truth. And he does (as he sees it). He's written a few books. Publishers routinely ignore him. This guy has worked hard into his 50s. He lost his wife to cancer. Now he's living with his new dog and his writing. A $500,000 book deal would make his life a lot better.

I would love to buy Jayson Blair a drink only so I could throw it in his face.

It's one thing to lie, get caught, and apologize. It's another to lie, get caught, then make a living off it.

So, if you already bought me the book for Christmas, I'd suggest you return it. If the store gives you a merchandise credit, buy a copy of the book below and send it to Jayson Blair.


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