Forgiving Jayson Blair?

A decade later, Samantha Grant is reflecting on the Jayson Blair story through her recent documentary “A Fragile Trust,” which explain the events of the scandal surrounding Jayson Blair, a New York Times reporter who managed to go unnoticed fabricating and plagiarizing his articles for most of his journalistic career. Even though so much time has passed, there are still questions to be asked about Jayson Blair such as: Is he really sorry? How did this happen and who is there someone to blame?

Samantha Grants offers you so much information on the events surrounding this scandal as well as almost two sides of the story. You had Jayson Blair himself offering up his side of the story as well as his colleagues, boss, and the people he hurt, tell their side of the story.

It’s hard to pinpoint the cause of this but you come to see that Jayson Blair struggled with many personal issues that could be the root of the problem. Blair suffered with mental illness and addiction as well as large amounts of pressure from The New York Times which could be explanations for how this got so out of hand.

What I found interesting, was that I was constantly switching sides on deciding whether I thought Jayson Blair was guilty or whether the things Blair struggled with justified his unethical actions.

His stories about addiction, depression, and with brushes with suicide made you sympathetic of what he did while under those episodes and relapses. You almost want to blame the Times and its editors for not noticing his mental illness and not noticing him continue to make mistakes. While watching the documentary, there are so many people you want to blame and sometimes even find yourself not blaming Blair, who ultimately was the problem.

Jayson Blair fabricated, plagiarized and lied in about 36 out of 76 articles at the Times itself. It was later found out that he also did these things at the Boston Globe and even back in high school, in his high school newspaper.

I personally found it hard to almost forgive Blair for acting so unethically. He avoided questions about being sorry and ultimately did not seem like he was truly sorry for what had happened. Maybe over time he has had time to let it go, but it did not seem like he was at all remorseful which is what led me to form my decision of forgiving him.

This is why it is hard to come to a conclusion on where Jayson Blair stands. I think that Grant does this purposefully when she offers the audience both sides of the story. If she fully blamed Blair, she could’ve only used his colleagues and people he hurt as a result of his actions, but she didn’t do that. She let Blair explain himself and she ultimately lets the audience decide whether they think he is guilty or not.

Grant offers her audience both positive and negative aspects of Blair which leave the audience looking for their own conclusions and ideas on the Blair case. In the end, the entire scandal is based on morality. Blair acted unethically and there might be someone to blame, but in the end it was on him.

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