Just to be clear, nothing new is going on in the Jayson Blair case. But we want to document the demise of his book, "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life at 'The New York Times,'" and a piece of his O'Reilly interview, for posterity, Google searches, and our own amusement.
For a $150,000 advance, Blair, the now-thoroughly discredited former fictionalizing, plagiarizing journalist (?) at The New York Times, wrote the memoir of his four-year stint at the newspaper, whose motto is "All the news that fits, we'll print," or something like that.
'More than my share of lies'
The 27-year-old Blair wrote more than 600 articles at The Times. As he says in the book, "I told more than my share of lies and became as adept as anyone at getting away with it unquestioned and unscathed." Turns out he'd applied the same skills at previous jobs, as well.
When his book was released, it "sparked the newsroom uprising that culminated in the resignations of the executive editor, Howell Raines, and the managing editor, Gerald Boyd," according to a Times review.
Blair hit the media circuit to promote the book:
"The O'Reilly Factor"
"Larry King Live"
Toeing the liberal line
O'Reilly may have had the most interesting interview, in which he ignored Blair's perfidy in favor of an approach that took shots at The Times' social change agenda. Liar or not, Blair reinforced the beliefs of conservatives everywhere, when he told Bill O'Reilly that a reporter who didn't toe The Times' liberal line would have been ostracized.
O'Reilly: "If you walked into the newsroom and you said that 'The O'Reilly Factor' is my favorite program, I love that O'Reilly guy ... what would happen to you if you were a New York Times reporter?"
Blair: "I'd be laughed out of the newsroom. I mean, people would brand me as a neo-con, and, you know, they'd stop talking to me."
But all those interviews resulted in only a mild blip in sales.
Road to obscurity
"Burning Down My Master's House" is No. 32 on this week's New York Times list of nonfiction Best Sellers, one spot below O'Reilly's "Who's Looking Out for You?"; the Blair book is scheduled to drop into obscurity when the next list comes out on 11 Apr 04.
On 28 Feb 04, the day after The New York Times ran its first article on Blair's book, it reached No. 312 on the Amazon.com list of all book sales. Yesterday, it had fallen to No. 1316.
Perhaps not the best career moves for a young journalist, what?