After Jonah Lehrer was caught fabricating Bob Dylan quotes in his book “Imagine,” Salon’s David Daley turned to former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair for his thoughts on the scandal. “Journalism is a profession that’s built on this notion of trust,” says the former journalist who plagiarized and fabricated at the Times. (He’s now a $130/hour life coach.) “I think fundamentally because of this trust in each other, our colleagues and our friends, we’re very slow to realize that any of us, under the right pressure, is capable of anything. …Once you’re young and successful, I think, in this profession you’re only as good as your last story — and you want every story to be better.”
What is Lehrer feeling today? Blair is asked.
I think on one hand he probably feels a sense of relief. On the other, a lot of sadness — sadness for losing his ability to be in a profession which by all accounts he valued, and sadness at disappointing the people who gave him a chance, and his friends and colleagues. The other emotion I would guess he’s feeling is the shock. It seems so incongruous to feel all of those things at the same time, but I’m sure he is feeling both sadness and relief.
What would Blair tell Lehrer?
Redemption is possible, and perhaps the best way to find that redemption — and, more importantly, peace — is to learn lessons from your experience and be able to help others through those lessons.
It’s rough. Very few people enter this profession wanting to do harm or damage to it. It’s heartbreaking to do it because you value it; I still feel as if journalism is my first love. The idea of losing the ability to be in the profession is bad, but the truly hard part is knowing you’ve done damage to the trust that people have in the profession.
* Jayson Blair: Jonah Lehrer’s story reminds me of my own (Salon.com)
* Robert Wright: Lehrer could resurface because “America is actually a pretty forgiving place” (The Atlantic)
* New Yorker says it doesn’t plan to pull Lehrer’s posts from its website (WWD.com)
* “A guy who looks cute and wonky is better positioned to get away with this than others” (NYTimes.com)