Michael Kinsley makes some fair points as to why much of the criticism of the New York Times’ handling of the Jayson Blair situation is unfair. He makes two basic arguments, one quite sound and the other beside the point.

First, he notes that it is very easy for editors to fall for the duplicity of their writers since, after all, they start with the presumption of trust and because the writer obviously has the advantage in subject matter. He notes, for example, that the people now saying that Blair’s chicanery was obvious didn’t note it at the time, so it couldn’t have been that obvious. A good point.

His second point, with which I agree, is that the NYT is the most prestigious and influential paper in the country and sets the agenda for the rest of the media. My problem with that argument is that it has nothing to do with the Blair situation. Indeed, were the NYT not in that exalted seat, no one would care. Had Blair worked for, say, The Troy Messenger, the story would have had no following.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kathy K says:

    And if he’d worked for the National Enquirer, the story would have been laughed at.