A Chaotic Mind: The Jayson Blair Story

Ethics and trust are the rock of all journalsim, without it there is no substance. Jayson Blair, has no regards for either of them. In watching Samantha Grant’s documentary, “A Fragile Trust”, she gives an account of disgraced journalist, Jayson Blair, and the plagarism scandal that he is so well known associated with The New York Times. While watching this documentary it is revealed that Blair suffers from mental illness and drug abuse, which usually evoke empathy and compassion from viewers.

In this picture, however, I see what can best be described as a chaotic mind. In seeing his interviews with numerous television reporters and within the documetary, the sense of empathy and compassion does not cross my path. I see things that I’ve recognized before, whilst I have never scene nor heard of Jayson Blair before. I was having this feeling of seeing someone you know, but you are not sure what from. Then it hit me, he resembles two characters that I have scene in movies, Frank Abagnale (“Catch Me If You Can”) and the Joker (“The Dark Night Rises”).

Obviously these two characters are much more exaggerated and absurd than Blair, but there were instances where those two comparisons made a lot of sense. Take Frank Abagnale, someone who-in the film-used his con artist methods as a means of survival, began to get really good at it and started to enjoy conning people. Once he started getting pleasure out of it, things get out of control and he crashes and burns. I connected this part to Blair when he fabricated stories to make his job easier and get out of doing certain work that he did not want to do, and once he started plagiarizing and lying more than he did real journalism that’s when he got caught in a web of his own lies.

In terms of the Joker I see more so a person incapable of feeling remorse, while also struggling with mental illness. Whenever Blair talks about his mental illness and drug problems, he talks about the way he felt and then you really feel for him. I was still skeptical however, like the Joker, Blair’s wrongdoings are not something that I can contribute to his mental health. He knows right and wrong and has a history of lying. In the film it is found that in high school and in an earlier time in his career at The Boston Globe, he has had accounts of plagarism.

This is the moment at where I had no sympathy for the devil. While I don’t think that the mental illness helped his case, I do not find it to be the main reason for his actions. During the movie I could not find a way to describe the way I felt about him unil, his mentor and colleague Jerry Gray was quoted saying, “I don’t know where the sickness ends and the gaming begins”. This is the quote that really cemented the Joker reference and helped me articulate what it was about him that made me so skeptical.

He knows what he is doing is wrong, yet he continues to do it without any remorse. I understand he has a mental illness, but when you watch him in interviews it almost seems like it is a big con, which I am not saying it is. All in all I can’t describe it as a perverse mind nor a sick mind, the best way I can put it is, a chaotic mind.

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