I’ll admit that my initial reaction to the news that one-time New York Times fiction writer Jayson Blair had launched a second act as a Virginia based life coach was much the same as Megan’s: a niblet that didn’t need a punch line to be funny.
But I feel a little differently having listened to the man himself this morning as he did a phone interview on public radio’s The Takeaway.
“The years 2003-2009 have been pretty tough for the Times,” Blair remarks at the beginning of the discussion, bookending the Grey Lady’s economic troubles with the crisis of confidence brought on by his work.
But the chat is just as much focused on his new job as it is on the damage he did to the Times by producing, by an internal panel’s reckoning, at least 36 stories by journalistic misdeed.
His new boss, also joining the show by phone, praised Blair as a model employee and says the clinic would never have hired Blair, where he helps people with substance and mental health abuse problems, if Blair hadn’t slayed his own, similar, demons first.
Indeed, Blair does sound well in the interview. Six years on from what can only be the lowest moment in his life, despite the ongoing harm he’s done to journalism, it would be cruel—or at the very least churlish—to wish him anything else.Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.