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NY Times Apologizes For Fake Stories

"The New York Times" issued an apology today for dozens of fabricated stories printed on its pages by one of its staff writers.
First Publish: 5/11/2003, 10:51 PM

The New York Times issued an apology today for dozens of fabricated stories printed on its pages by one of its staff writers.

Jayson Blair, a long time writer for the Times was revealed to have been writing dispatches that purported to be from Maryland, Texas and other states, while he was located in New York. He made up scenes, quotations, entire interviews and reported several events that had not occurred, managing to get the articles past the editorial staff of the Times and printed in the widely distributed newspaper.

In an inquiry formed to explain how such fraud could have gone undetected within the newspaper, journalists from the Times have identified "factual" problems in at least 36 of the 73 articles Mr. Blair wrote since he started getting national reporting assignments late last October.

"The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper" read an apology in Sunday's New York Times.

This is not the first time the New York Times has been accused of dishonest reporting. An Associated Press photo was published on page A5 of the Times on September 30, 2000 with the false and deceptive caption, "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount." In actuality, the bloodied teenager was Jewish yeshiva student, Tuvia Grossman, who was saved by the Israeli policeman after nearly being lynched by Arabs.

In what was an extensive, if not timely apology for another one of its controversial journalistic decisions,The New York Times published a full page editorial on November 14, 2001 apologizing for its lack of coverage of Nazi genocide during the Holocaust.

Robert Lichter of the US based Center for Media and Public Affairs commented that "any time you find something so pervasive, you have to wonder what else slips past the checks and balances. The Times was a standard that journalists looked up to. Now it's something they're going to have to live down."

"The ease with which Mr. Blair fabricated article after article to be printed on the pages of one of the world's leading newspapers exposes a great chasm at the feet of the editorial staff of the New York Times," said Yisrael Medad, former director of Israel's Media Watch in an interview with Israel National News. "If he got away with it for as long as he did, with no political agenda or ideological beliefs fuelling his distortions, one can only imagine what goes on in the news room when Israel is the subject being reported upon."

"Mr. Blair was not pro-sniper or anti-sniper," Medad pointed out, "his fabrications about meetings with soldiers back from Iraq stemmed not from political motives but a desire to make a name for himself - if he could so easily turn lies into 'truth' using the pages of the 'newspaper of record' I shudder to think of what other writers, holding very strong views about Israel, manage to slip into the 'news'."