All the Wrong Moves

A Fraud Grows on West 43rd Street

After the news of Blair's resignation broke, investigative stories began appearing in other papers. Last week, as the Times prepared to publish its own investigation, the staff was informed that Raines and Boyd would not see the story before it went to print. Even so, Times staffers wondered if any blame would be assigned to the institution and its executives. Staffers eagerly opened a memo from Raines, only to read that the former picture editor had a new assignment. On March 8, Boyd assured a small group of staff that "no heads would roll." Says one insider, "It's disappointing to see Gerald refusing to take responsibility. I think Gerald was blinded by this guy."

In the Times' account, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. explained there will be no search for scapegoats. "The person who did this is Jayson Blair," he said. "Let's not begin to demonize our executives—either the desk editors or the executive editor or, dare I say, the publisher."

A spokesperson said the Times would have no further comment. Yet the May 11 report blames the newspaper only in the most general way, in what it dubs a communications breakdown among reporters and editors. According to the company line, institutions built on trust and integrity cannot be expected to ferret out a pathological liar.

Publicly, Raines and Boyd have been absolved. But internally, says one source, some feel that this "tragedy is the absolute failure of management." The Times reported that management will now conduct an internal study of "the newsroom's processes for training, assignment and accountability." But will self-examination produce diagnosis and treatment—or another episode of willful blindness?


cc@villagevoice.com

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