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Jayson Blair: Sociopath

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Thank god Jayson Blair’s chosen weapons were a laptop and a cellphone, instead of duct tape and a butcher knife.

The former New York Times reporter, who resigned earlier this moth after fabricating dozens of stories, has been the subject of a running debate over race issues [he’s black] and the poor management structure of his former employer.

No matter where you fall in that debate, everything that’s been written so far was rendered moot by two articles in the current New York Observer.

In the first full-length interview since his fall from grace, Mr. Blair reveals his true nature and that of the scandal he caused.

Jayson Blair is a sociopath.

Every personality marker of the sociopath is documented in NYO and the previous coverage: the self-centeredness, the elaborate system beating mindset, the lack of remorse over those he’s injured, the warped philosophy, the charm and the con.

Especially in defeat, he exhibits the hallmark of a true sociopathic criminal when he gloats over his victim: “They’re all so smart, but I was sitting right under their nose fooling them.”

Again, thank heavens the guy was drawn to apply his warped skills in the media field, and not as a meat packer. We’d all be eating Hannibal Lecter pie if he had.

So everyone involved, from black journalists to Times haters to affirmative action demagogues, should all rest easy.

That’s because the true nature of sociopathy lies in the protagonist being able to manipulate the system to his advantage. So he used his skin color and effusive social skills to land on the fast track, so what? Ted Bundy used his good looks and charm to lure women into his fatal embrace.

The Times has a bad management structure? Well, no kidding, every large corporation has holes big enough for the truly insane to slip through – indeed, turn to their nefarious advantage.

But there isn’t a company in the world that is set up to isolate and remove the truly disturbed. Ask the post office.

That’s what’s been missing in this whole debate – the ability to think outside the norm. Just like Jayson did. And still does.

Every journalist that has written about this situation has approached it from a rational perspective, where the central subject doesn’t reside.

This story isn’t about black journalists or the New York Times, or affirmative action or the media in general. It is about a nut case who worked the system.

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About Frank Giovinazzi

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent Frank, this does seem to answer the questions better than anything else I’ve seen, and you’re right about his choice of weapons: the NY Times may not think so, but we lucked out on this one.

  • NC

    I agree with Eric. Excellent job.

  • cephusj

    You have a very brilliant opinion. I agree wholeheartedly. I am black and have mixed feelings about affirmative action and the race issue when it comes to disciplinary action in terms of favoritism. This guy is a classic loon and should be treated as such. The idea of race should not even be considered in this case.

  • mommydoc

    Either a sociopath (antisocial personality disorder) or a narcissistic personality disorder, but I’m leaning toward your diagnosis. But I have to disagree with you, cephusi, in that his long pattern of bad behavior would have not been permitted to continue were it not for the frequently stated (by NYT management in conjunction with this case) goal of diversity.

    It still stinks of the subtle bigotry of lowered expectations. Were he white, he would not have been thought of as such a rising star. He wasn’t that talented.

  • ESTEBAN O’HARE

    Thanks for expanding on the obvious: Jayson Blair as sociopath.

    Expecting rationality from dangerous people is never conducive to a long, happy life…as the folks who keep thinking their new and improved plan will somehow get the Islamic Jihadists and Palestinians to act nice…

  • John

    Have to agree with mommnydoc here: While Blair indeed shows himself to be a sociopath, and one whose preening braggadoccio in the Observer may show signs of manic/depressive disorder, the whole incident changes after the spring of 1992, when Blair is called out the first time by newsroom personnel at the Times for his mistakes.

    Up until that point, the paper’s execs can be given a little leeway for not spotting Jayson’s problems in the beginning, but after his medical leave and return to the paper, the actions by Boyd and Raines in promoting him to the D.C. sniper story smack of liberal white guilt on Howell’s part and a desire to feel good about himself by promoting a minority despite questions about his reliability.

  • mike

    Rick Bragg’s suspension indicates this problem may be more widespread, and have nothing to do with sociopathic personalities or affirmative action. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into an Enron-type contagion: reporters at all sorts of papers turning out to have “issues” with accuracy, etc.

    Journalism is a marginalized profession with very low standards. Lying on behalf of power is routine, as the Iraq war showed. I’ve heard the Pentagon was stunned by easy it was to smoke the press, the phony Jessica Lynch rescue story being a notable example.