The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Panel Discusses Scott Peterson Trial, Interview With Jayson Blair

Aired March 9, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight Jayson Blair, the man who disgraced the "New York Times" with lies and plagiarism. His first live prime time interview. Now he says he's coming clean, telling tales of drug abuse and childhood sexual abuse.

But first, jury selection delayed in Scott Peterson's murder trial so the judge can consider a new motion for a change of venue. Here with all the latest, Ted Rowlands on top of this story from day one. Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor. Defense attorney Chris Pixley. From the side of the Peterson trial, San Mateo County, California, Michael Cardoza, one of the top defense attorneys in that area. And Chuck Smith, former San Mateo County prosecutor with six years working homicide cases. And jury consultant Mark Mazzarella. There all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Jayson Blair in a little while. Let's begin with Ted Rowlands, our CNN man on the scene. What happened today?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN REPORTER: Well, it was expected that at some point Mark Geragos was going to ask this judge for another possible change of venue and he did that this morning. He said that because of the prejudice that he says he has seen from the potential jurors that have come through this system and have filled out this questionnaire, he says that it is evident that the judge has to step in, in his words, and do something about it.

He says that he's going to ask this judge for relief in one of three forms. He says he either wants another change of venue, motion hearing to be granted, and a possible change of venue to be granted. Or he says he would take a couple of different -- a couple other different things in return for what he says is this tainted jury pool.

He says, if you give me two separate jurors, one for guilt and penalty phase, he would be okay with that. This is something that the judge has already ruled on and says that that will not happen. He only wants one jury to hear this case.

Or, Geragos says, another possible remedy would be to give the defense extra peremptory challenges. Both sides get 20 apiece, and Geragos seemed to indicate in court that, in return for this jury pool that he's not happy with, he would take a few more peremptory challenges. Whether or not the judge will go for that, though, remains to be seen.

The judge did agree, however, to give them next week off, prosecutors and defense, to file their motions and their rebuttals, and then come back into court on the 22nd, Monday, to hear arguments.

KING: Nancy grace, can you understand why this is so hard to get a jury?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I can understand why Mark Geragos says it's so hard to get a jury because he wants to go to a different location. And I would suspect he wants something around the L.A. Area. But the legal precedent right here is very simple, and it is that this issue is not ripe. Like a piece of fruit for the picking.

In other words, you can't base this decision simply on jury questionnaires. You have to talk to an entire panel, several of them in this case, and then you can see whether you're going to have a fair jury or not.

So far, the numbers are indicating that about 40 out of 100 jurors -- and they are coming in by the hundred -- say they can be fair. So now the judge, both sides have to question them individually. These that say they can be fair. Delukey, the judge, says he can he thinks he can get 60 or 70 fair minded jurors.

KING: Chris is, is this request premature?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't agree that it's premature at all. We issued jury questionnaires, if you recall Larry, initially, when Scott Peterson made his first change of venue request. One of the arguments made on the other side, both on television and elsewhere, was that, look, there really isn't reliable data to tell us Stanislaus County jurors would be impartial.

In this case, we have a fairly elaborate jury questionnaire that's been issued, and so far 61 of the first 100 jurors that were questioned were dismissed on the basis of their responses to that questionnaire. Now, you can play with those numbers. Nancy represents them a different way and says, well, look, we're getting a fair number of jurors who say they can be impartial. But the fact is, it's not a stretch to say you would have difficulty getting an impartial juror when the questionnaire itself indicates that's more than half the jurors have prejudged.

KING: Michael Cardoza, what do you think?

MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it's a little premature, Larry. When the jurors come into the jury room -- not the jury room, but the judge's chambers because they're going to do a whole week voir dire here. That means they take each juror individually into the judge's chamber and talk to them. That's when you'll find out, because oftentimes, as Geragos knows, you can change the minds of jurors that say they can be fair.

So, I think it's a little too soon in this, he pulled the trigger a little bit too soon. I think he'd have a better shot a week or two after voir diring some of these jurors.

KING: Chuck Smith, what do you think?

CHUCK SMITH, FRM. PROSECUTOR: I think Mark Geragos is a little bit like the little boy who keeps crying wolf. And sooner or later, the judge is going to turn him off. The numbers are a little bit off here, Larry.

First of all, it's not that 61 people out of 100 are saying they are prejudiced by pretrial publicity. That 61 number includes people who cannot serve because of hardships. So the actual percentage of people who feel that they prejudged the case is much, much smaller. And I am confident the motion is going to be denied. They will move along, and they'll find plenty of people who have an open mind about the facts of this case and can be good jurors.

KING: What is a jury consultant faced with, Mark Mazzarella, when he has this question in front of him?

MARK MAZZARELLA, JURY CONSULTANT: The question is really relative to most cases, how high is 61 percent? It's very, very high relative to even high profile cases. So, this is a very, very unusual situation, given the number of people who have been exposed to media and prejudged the defendant's guilt against the defendant.

So it's really an uphill battle. I think that partly what Mark Geragos is doing now is he's conditioning the judge ultimately in the hope that, if nothing else, he'll have the judge exercise challenges for cause more liberally. And he gets an infinite number of those.

So I think he's, at a minimum, trying to get the judge alerted to this problem. And even if all the motions are denied, the fourth alternative is soften the judge up a little bit, and I think that's what he's doing.

KING: Ted, you talked to a lot of people there. In your opinion, have a lot of people made up their mind?

ROWLANDS: Well, a lot of jurors that have been dismissed say that's what they've articulated on their questionnaire. But some folks come out and say, yes, I think he may be guilty or he may be innocent. More so guilty, it seems. But they're willing to put that behind them.

And the question is whether that's true or not. And that's, I guess, what they're trying to get through. It does seem that, if people have made up their mind, people who have been following it, do believe going in that he had something to do with his wife's disappearance and murder.

KING: Nancy, what's the key question? Is that, you haven't made up your mind or might lean -- to be a good juror you have to what?

GRACE: Larry, you're dead on. Because you can ask a juror multiple questions to get the answer you want. For instance, Geragos can ask, isn't it true you've heard pretrial publicity and it tends to suggest my client is guilty? And the juror can say, yes, yes. As if they're being charmed by a snake charmer.

But then the state must rehabilitate that juror by saying very simply -- and I've done it a million times. Are you meaning to tell me you will not sit and follow this judge's direction and be fair and impartial and listen to the facts from the jury, from the witness stand and render a verdict that speaks the truth? Practically every juror is willing to keep an open mind.

And let me tell you something, Larry, I've got the jury questionnaire right here. This covers everything from your knowledge of boats to your religion to what cable TV show you watch. So this is very telling, and the judge will be studying these very carefully.

KING: Chris Pixley, isn't this hard?

PIXLEY: It's very difficult. I mean, I don't disagree with the rest of the panel in saying that it's going to be very difficult to get the judge to move venue in this case. Again, I mean, you've got to consider what Mark Geragos is up against. When this case was initially moved, the presiding judge, along with the California Administrative Office of Courts, considered untainted venues. They looked closely at other venues that would be appropriate and then they gave a McGowan hearing (ph) to each side and said, look, you can argue over these venues to decide -- to help us decide which is appropriate.

All of that's been done. With all of that having gone before us, it's now very difficult to argue. Look, this venue itself turns out to be prejudicial.

KING: Let me get a break and be back with more of our panel, and then we'll meet Jayson Blair the author of "Burning Down my Master's House: My Life at the New York Times."

Andrew Morton and extraordinary tapes of Princess Di tomorrow night. Dan Rather on Friday. Don't go away.


KING: Michael Cardoza, why would a defense attorney ask for a second jury for the penalty phase?

Doesn't that seem to presume you're going to lose in the first phase?

CARDOZA: No, it doesn't seem that way at all, Larry. What happens here, when you have a death qualified jury, they are always more conservative jurors. And that's what Geragos is trying to get away from here. He doesn't want a death qualified jury deciding guilt or innocence. That's why he's trying to trade this off. He is a trader right now. He's says, judge, I'm going to make a change of venue motion, but if you give me two different juries, that would be great. So you're going to get a less conservative jury deciding guilt or innocence. That's where Geragos will have his best shot in that guilt phase.

KING: Chuck Smith, is this the slam dunk some people thought it was?

SMITH: No, I don't think so at all. That's part of the reason why I believe they will not have a difficult time getting a jury. Because people in this community have heard bits and pieces of the circumstantial evidence, but not all of it. And I think in everyone's mind, this is a mystery still. This is a circumstantial evidence- based case, which isn't bad by itself, but the pieces haven't been put together by a prosecutor in a clear, coherent fashion, which comes when the opening statements are made and the evidence is presented.

CARDOZA: Remember, Chuck and Larry, the person that made that comment about the slam dunk has never tried a jury trial in his life. So he's not experienced enough to make that kind of comment. And I'll tell you, no experienced trial attorney would dare make a comment like that.

GRACE: I agree, Larry. You should never jinks your trial by touting it up front. Larry, the question you asked us as to why Geragos wants two juries. It's a called a bifurcated jury. Number one, it's never going to happen because there's no legal precedent for two juries for one case and one defendant. But the reason he wants it, Larry. Think about it. You've got your guilt-innocence phase and then your sentencing phase or the death penalty phase. He doesn't want the jury that hears all this detail about Amber Frey and the condition of the bodies and Laci's pregnancy to hear all that factual evidence and then sit as the penalty jury because it is so damning. At least that's what he is concerned about. So that's why he wants a different set of 12 new eyes and ears.

KING: Mark, as a consultant now, what are you looking for if you're a defense consultant here?

MAZZARELLA: Well, certainly on the guilt phase you are looking for that juror who's not going to be really too affected by the affairs and tangential evidence. Somebody who really has a rather spotted lifestyle. Somebody who's maybe had a lot of different relationships, lot of different jobs, somebody who doesn't show a lot of stability. You don't want people who have been in the same job for 30 years, who've had the same marriage for 30 years, who are going to look at Scott Peterson and his life and say, wow, he's just not a good guy because he does all these things that I don't do. You want a very different juror.

KING: And the prosecutor wants the reverse, right?

The guy who's nerve never missed a rotary meeting?

MAZZARELLA: That's the guy. The person that's the BFW person and married for 35 years and working for the same company for 35 of those years.

KING: Who is jumping in there?

SMITH: I was jumping in. This is Chuck. I think what the prosecutor wants is the prosecutor wants professional, working mothers who would never put up a guy like Scott Peterson. I think that would be the model prosecution jury in this case.

CARDOZA: Yes, Chuck, this is almost a different type of jury they're looking for on the prosecution side and the defense. You can almost say they flip flop here because the defense wants intelligent, well educated people that will look at the circumstantial evidence in this case and see two different possibilities. That will fall right into the jury instruction here in California that says circumstantial evidence susceptible to two reasonable interpretations, you, the jurors must go with the one that points to innocence. The person that's the analytical one, the more intelligent one, is the type of juror Geragos is looking for in this case.

KING: What, Chris Pixley, is the best definition of reasonable doubt?

SMITH: Good luck, Chris. Good luck on that one.

PIXLEY: Could you ask me anything else, Larry?

SMITH: Larry, I can quote it. I can quote the actual instruction that we use here in California. It's awkward language.

KING: What is it?

SMITH: Reasonable doubt is defined as follows, it is not a mere possible doubt because everything relating to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of the jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge. It is awkward.

CARDOZA: You know what's interesting there is, in California, a number of years ago that jury instruction had in it you had to decide it to a moral certainty, but the supreme court of California took the moral certainty out of that instruction and weakened it.

KING: Very, very fascinating.

Ted, why is this trial going to take so long?

ROWLANDS: Well, because of the amount of discovery. This investigation lasted four months plus. In fact, they say it's still going on. And the amount of discovery that is involved in this is just voluminous, thousands and thousands of pages of potential pieces of evidence. And because the prosecution presumably is building this wall of small, little pieces of circumstantial evidence that they're going to have to lay out in front of this jury. So it's going to take a lot of time. And Geragos himself is going to battle each little bit, each little tidbit in court.

KING: Next hearings is a week from Monday, the 22nd, right?

ROWLANDS: And, in the meantime, they will continue jury selection or potential jurors...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) continue to go through with it.

ROWLANDS: The end of this week, and next week is off.

KING: Thanks, guys. Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Michael Cardoza, Chuck Smith and Mark Mazzarella. We'll be hearing lots from all of them throughout all of this.

When we come back, the fascinating story of Jayson Blair, formerly of the "New York Times."


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Jayson Blair, the former the "New York Times" journalist resigning after committing acts of journalistic fraud and plagiarism. A scandal that eventually led to the resignation of the paper's executive editor Hal Raines and manager editor Gerald Boyd. He's author of a new book, "Burning Down My Master's House." There you see its cover, "My Life at the New York Times." Why did you write this?

JAYSON BLAIR, JOURNALIST: The main reason I wrote the book, Larry, is, you know, I'm 27 years old. I made, you know, a lot of mistakes. I was given an opportunity to have a wonderful job at a young age, and I self destructed. And I feel like people can learn a lot of things from my experience, and hopefully grow from it.

I also feel that there are things about the "New York Times" and things about the journalism business, corners that are cut, problems that exist, that a lot of people are not -- don't get a chance to see.

KING: Did you like self-examining yourself that way? Was it a catharsis for you?

BLAIR: Well, it was a catharsis, but to say that I liked it might be a bit of a stretch. It was a very painful, painful process.

KING: What happened?

BLAIR: I initially started with a lot of assumptions and a lot of anger. And I, you know, began examining initially what happened, and I wanted to put the blame on everyone else. But really quickly, I realized that a lot of the blame fell on my shoulders. So that was a very difficult process.

KING: Why did you -- "Burning Down My Masters House" is racial in tone. Isn't it? Master, slavery.


KING: But nowhere in reading this do you make racist charges that it was involved in your hiring, that you were a product of that. But you were a talented writer. Why that title?

BLAIR: Race for every African American, man or woman, you can't really separate race from your experience. You face racism in small and large ways. It's really hard to say what role race really played in my case.

But what I can say about "Burning Down My Masters House" is that I was the master of my own destiny and I burnt it down. It's a double entendre. Yes. Race and racism were a part of my life, but ultimately I was the master of my own destiny. And it is an experience, you know, from burning down my own house, I'm trying to come out of the rubble and, you know, move on.

KING: How do you react to those who say you're not apologetic enough. You're apologetic but not overly apologetic.

BLAIR: I am immensely contrite, and I am sorry for the damage that I've done. I apologized in the book. I've apologized in interviews. Some people, you know, it seems to me some people would like me to crawl into a hole and disappear forever. That's just not in my nature. I'm not sure what more I could do to show people how sorry I am.

KING: Why have you mentioned with all the opportunities you've had, people could learn from this? With all the opportunities you had, why did you throw that away? Because you can write. If you couldn't write, you wouldn't have been hired, right?

BLAIR: Right.

KING: And, obviously, you had promise and talent. Why take the route out of faking things when you could do the things?

BLAIR: Right. It wasn't a conscious decision. My goal was not to someday be Jayson Blair, the infamous the "New York Times" reporter who lost his job. My goal was to be a very good reporter.

I went through a very difficult period of time, and I think that a lot of people, regardless of whether you work on Wall Street or you work in a factory or you're in a job in middle America, can relate to the pressures that come on you. I was not prepared to handle them. Not prepared to handle them at that age. Not prepared to handle them at that high level of the game. And I flamed out.

You know, I talk a little bit in the book about my diagnosis with manic depression. I talk a little in the book about my self- medication with substance abuse. I tried to find ways to sort of take care of myself, but, obviously, for whatever reason, I wasn't prepared.

KING: The first time you did something that was wrong...

BLAIR: Right.

KING: Whatever that was, did you cop a story?

BLAIR: I think it was when I was 2 years old.

KING: I'm talking about at the times.

BLAIR: Right. KING: Did you say, hey, maybe I need some help here? Maybe I ought to sit down and talk to somebody. They like me at "The Times." Maybe I ought to talk to them.

BLAIR: You know, Larry, I felt a tremendous pressure, and I'm not saying this is because of racism. I think it's my own insecurities that relate to race. I am, you know, felt a tremendous pressure to outperform my competitors, be better, be stronger, be the Teflon man. And I walked around from the first day I walked into that building, despite my talent, fearful that some day they were going to figure me out, and I didn't deserve to be there.

KING: You felt you were a fraud?

BLAIR: I felt I was a fraud. So I was very reluctant to go for help. The one time I did go for help when I was struggling with an addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

KING: You say your competitors. Other writers were competitors?

BLAIR: Competitors -- it's an interesting thing. Your primary competitors when you're a reporter at the "New York Times" are other reporters at the "New York Times."

KING: Really?

BLAIR: Yes. We're fighting each other to get on the front page. And often we lose sight of the readers in that situation. We lose sight of what's really important, and that's delivering the most important information to people.

KING: Were you the fair haired boy?

BLAIR: People have argued that I was a favorite. I ultimately don't know the answer to that question. All I know is that I'm grateful for the tremendous opportunities that I was given. And, you know, I don't want to suggest that...

KING: But two significant people lost their jobs, right?

BLAIR: I feel -- there is nothing, Larry, that I feel worse about than the fact that Gerald Boyd and Hal Raines lost their job, and then Rick Bragg, a national correspondent, and Lynette Holloway a correspondent, a friend of mine and correspondent, lost their job, lost her job. There is nothing I feel worse about. But ultimately, none of those people are responsible for my actions, Larry.

KING: Another thing, is with all the time you spend in -- for example, you would fake a trip. Then you'd have to go somewhere, look up what happened in San Antonio, take something from another newspaper, rewrite it, et cetera. Wouldn't it have been easier to go to San Antonio? It looked like it was more work to be fraudulent.

BLAIR: We're in the information age now, where at our fingertips on our laptops and computers, we have access to databases that give us video feeds and pictures and with a cell phone and telephones, we can not only mask our locations, but obtain all sorts of information we wouldn't otherwise be able to.

You can do that if you're a lazy reporter. In my case, it wasn't out of laziness purely. I was also very sick during the time period. In the book, I talk about struggling with my undiagnosed mental illness. But for me, it was the fact that I didn't want to get on the road. I didn't feel well enough to get on the road. And I thought it would only last a couple weeks.

KING: In retrospect, would you have been better off going with a smaller newspaper somewhere and working your way up?

BLAIR: It's a question I thought a lot about. There are a lot of different things that, when I look back at my situation, I would have done differently.

KING: Were you hired under an affirmative action program?

BLAIR: I was hired into a minority internship program, but then went into a program that was open to people of all races.

KING: We'll be right back with Jayson Blair. We'll also include your phone calls. The book is "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life At the New York Times." Don't go away.


MACARENA HERNANDEZ, "SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS": Someone sent me an email saying, you should look at this story. There was something fishy about "The New York Times" story. I mean, it was hard to comprehend that I had been plagiarized. And I thought that they had just borrowed from the AP and not credited the AP and the AP had borrowed from "The Express News." But it was when I saw the longer version on the actual "New York Times" Web site that I realized that my work had indeed been replicated.

I called the people at 2:00 in the morning to ask them if I wasn't insane for thinking that sentence I found was alike. I was shocked, especially when I saw the by-line, Jayson Blair, who was someone I knew.




BLAIR: This is the telephone where I called my bosses after I received a call from the "National Editor," saying that there were similarity between a story that I had written and a story that was in the "San Antonio Express News." You know, I just remember being in a cold sweat, shaking, you know, still lying. It was just terribly emotional. I wasn't supposed to be here or in the city. And so I used the pay phone so they wouldn't know where the call was coming from.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The guest is Jayson Blair. The book is "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life at the 'New York Times'." available everywhere. When they knew they had you, what was it like?

BLAIR: It was a panic like I never felt. I talk about it in the book that I wasn't conscious of the idea of getting caught. I wasn't thinking about that. And my...

KING: Did you fear it?

BLAIR: No, did not fear it. And my immediate reaction was -- and that is definitely foolish of me. And my immediate reaction was to cover up. But it was a cover-up out of an adrenaline run panic. It got so bad that, you know, by the last few days, I had told so many lies, so many twisted versions of the story, and I had become so depressed, you know, as I talk about in the book, I had contemplated suicide. And that's the moment where I decide -- decided I'm going to stop lying. And I'm going to...

KING: Let it all hang out?

BLAIR: I'm going to let it all hang out.

KING: By contemplating suicide, how close were you?

BLAIR: I was in the bathroom of a restaurant with a belt around my neck, and that's when mental health professionals, who quickly became involved, said I really needed to get checked out. That's what led to the diagnosis of...

KING: How did they know to get to you in the bathroom?

BLAIR: It was actually an employee assistance counselor at the "New York Times" who had helped get me into rehab. She, had called -- a friend of mine, was also in the cafe and came to the bathroom, and she got in touch with them.

KING: Are you free of drugs now?

BLAIR: I am free of drugs and alcohol, and thank god for that.

KING: Through a program?

BLAIR: Yes, it's one of the things I'll always owe "The New York Times" for, which is getting me into rehab.

KING: You'll never write for a newspaper again?

BLAIR: No, I don't have the right to write for a newspaper.

KING: Are you going to write for books, fiction?

BLAIR: I'm going to try to write books. I'm thinking about fiction.

KING: Was the book fact checked? BLAIR: Yes, it was doubly fact checked. At least according to my publisher, and at least the time I spent with the fact checkers, we were up day and night reviewing different details.

KING: How much of this points to a weakness at the "Times?"

BLAIR: You know, I can't judge the changes that they've made since I left the "Times." But, you know, my best guess, from reading the changes they made, there's nothing there that they've done that would prevent another Jayson Blair. Another important point from the book, Larry, is I lay out examples of other "journalistic war criminals" who pretend to be at certain places.

KING: At the "Times"?

BLAIR: At the "Times."

KING: Who do things like what?

BLAIR: Who do things like, you know, one example of a man who spent an entire day on the Washington Mall when he was supposed to be in Baltimore, and all of a sudden a story from Baltimore appeared in the paper.

KING: With a Baltimore byline?

BLAIR: With a Baltimore dateline. A woman reporter who was in New York when she was supposed to be in Maryland, and it his a Maryland dateline on the story. You know, examples of a reporter dressing up as a nurse in the middle of a fire -- excuse me. In the middle of a plane crash to get the story. You think "New York Post," not "The New York Times." That kind of situation puts someone's life in danger for a story. There are plenty of examples like that within the book that suggest to me that there are these journalistic war criminals still at "The New York Times" who have not been caught.

KING: Is sort of like saying I passed the red light, but so did they?

BLAIR: No, I don't believe -- I'm not like the white collar criminal who is sitting in jail saying everybody else does it. I don't use that as an excuse. In the book, I just use it to explain where I got the ideas from. It doesn't excuse it because a man with integrity can look at unethical behavior and do the right thing, and I didn't.

KING: Is this something that could happen in a newspaper, because on television I can't stand at the Washington Monument and say I'm in Baltimore.

BLAIR: You can't fake it. You can't fake it.

KING: Some have tried.

BLAIR: Airbrushed things out. I think there was a CBS or ABC controversy related to that. KING: It's harder.

BLAIR: It's a lot harder. You know, with a print newspaper there doesn't really need to be, you know, any -- there's no verifiable proof other than the reporter's word that they made it there. I like this idea that Nicholas Lehman, the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, put forth in a New Yorker article about my book. He suggested there should be random fact checking of stories in the same way that the federal government checks.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) can do that once a week.

But, how do you random fact check a newspaper?

BLAIR: Randomly fact check. Pick 10 stories a week and have a team of people that go through them and make sure the people exist, you know, who look and spot check the expenses and make people who are going. I think we owe that -- newspapers owe that much to their readers.

KING: Is "The New York Times" -- I understand one memo was published -- are they starting a campaign against this book, to your knowledge?

BLAIR: If you ask, Michael Viner, my wonderful publisher, he would make the case that they are starting a campaign. You know, I don't want to make a judgment about that other than the fact that I know "The New York Times" is going to run a negative book review. I know that they broke...

KING: When is that, next Sunday?

BLAIR: That's next Sunday.

KING: They didn't give it to a "Times" man to review, did they?

BLAIR: They gave it to Jack Shafer from "Slate," which causes ethical problems because he covers "The New York Times" for "Slate." That's a whole other situation. I know that they broke the embargo on the book and printed details about it. I know that -- you know, but I also know they're concerned about it. They're concerned about what they describe as the smears, and I know on some level they've begun a witch hunt inside the building to find out who some of the people are that I've mentioned doing unethical things and whether they really were unethical.

KING: You don't mention them by name?

BLAIR: No. I try my best not to...

KING: Have you apologized to the people you've plagiarized from?

BLAIR: I have not apologized to the people I've plagiarized from. I've apologized to...

KING: Why not? BLAIR: Well, I've apologized -- one of the things that I did, you know, in the fall of last year was make a list of people I felt had been hurt by this situation. And I've slowly begun trying to make amends, and I've started with friends. And as I move from friends, some of my former colleagues. Some of the people I plagiarized from. I really need to understand my actions completely, have my heart into these apologies. And, you know, I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't done apologizing over the next 20 years, and I don't find anything wrong with that.

KING: Does anyone who knew about this throughout...


KING: No confidant, no friend?

BLAIR: Everyone. All my friends got the same lies. My parents got a cell phone call from me saying I was in San Antonio.

KING: What's it like to live a life?

BLAIR: It's very lonely. It's very -- it's not. The getting caught is painful, but it's not just the getting caught. It's no fun to lie to people who care about you and put faith in you just, because you want to build this facade, this impression of you being able to do anything. It's not worth it. That's the main message I would say.

KING: Did you not think you were a good writer?

BLAIR: You know, I don't know if I'm a good writer to this day, Larry. Those insecurities that I have haven't disappeared. The -- as I said before, you know, I was concerned that, you know, I would be found out to be a fraud.

KING: A fraud in...

BLAIR: That I didn't deserve to be there.

KING: A fraud in writing?

BLAIR: That I didn't deserve to be there, in writing

KING: You didn't deserve to be at "The New York Times"?

BLAIR: That I didn't deserve to be there.

KING: You were in on a pass.

BLAIR: But if you look at the record and you look at the internships I had, you look at the experience I had, I worked at the "Boston Globe," at the "Washington Post," at...

KING: Never did anything there?

BLAIR: And a bunch of weekly -- no. There are -- there's examples from the "Boston Globe" and the "Washington Post" of me pulling quotes in two or three or four different stories, on nothing to this extent. But if you look at the experience that I had, it measured up. It not only measured up, it blew out of the water everyone in my class of interns. But I couldn't get out of my mind that I'm black.

KING: Black played a part in this?

How do you get your life back?

BLAIR: You know, I'm grateful to have this opportunity to write. My main goal is to focus on my mental health. And going and spending a lot of time with my family and trying to figure out what the future holds. I know to some extent there are people who are never going to forgive me. I'm never going to be redeemed in certain ways. The important thing for me, though, is that I live a truthful and an honest life from this point on.

KING: Have you heard from Mr. Boyd and Mr. Raines?

BLAIR: No, neither of them have been in touch.

KING: Are you tempted to contact them?

BLAIR: I actually have written letters to both of them a number of times that I haven't sent. And it's a process, an evolving process of drafts. But I do have some things that I want to say to them.

KING: You do?

BLAIR: Yes. I want to apologize for a lot of different things.

KING: Were you diagnosed bipolar?

BLAIR: Diagnosed bipolar one.

KING: Do you take medication?


KING: We'll take a break and then come back to your phone calls for Jayson Blair formerly of the "The New York Times." The book is "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life At the New York Times."

Jerry Lewis Thursday night, apparently doing a lot better healthwise. We'll be right back.


GERALD BOYD, FRM. MANAGING EDITOR "NEW YORK TIMES": We didn't realize until it was too late that we were dealing with something far worse than a reporter whose work had lapsed into frequent error and sloppiness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The unmistakable look of a management in crisis.

HOWELL RAINES, FRM. EXEC. EDITOR "NEW YORK TIMES": We stepped on a land mine. I stepped on a land mine named Jayson Blair.

ARTHUR SULZBERGER, PUBLISHER "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think the problem with the Jayson Blair was a very bad journalist.

JERELLE KRAUS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It was shocking, the Blair thing. It's shocking, yes. That he got by with it for so long. Editors have resign, but never for a reason like this. This is scandal.



BLAIR: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I've always stressed that we have to be a family. Best to act like a family.

I think that the committee should have a more active role in policy making. I think that the committee should have an open alley to the school board.

HERNANDEZ: I remember Jayson as this very ambitious guy who probably knew he wanted to do journalism before he could speak, that's the king of guy that he comes across as.


KING: What a shot you had, man. Look at that.


KING: How do you feel seeing this?

BLAIR: It's terribly painful.

KING: What a talented young man.

BLAIR: It's just terribly painful to think about the opportunity that I squandered.

KING: Hadn't caught, still be at "The Times?"

BLAIR: Most likely.

KING: Atlanta, Georgia, hello.


KING: Hi. Go ahead.

CALLER: First of all, I understand the pressure that I may have felt as a black man to exceed expectations at "The Times," but I just wanted to know, considering the current climate around affirmative action programs, if there were any repercussions or backlash that would prevent other minority interns from gaining an opportunity like yours? Do you feel at all responsible because of your irresponsible behavior?

KING: Do you think you hurt people coming along?

BLAIR: Oh, yes. There's no doubt that there are certain people who have taken this -- taken me and turned me into a spokesman for all African American journalists and are attempting to use this to argue against affirmative action. I ultimately believe that newspapers -- newspaper companies, broadcast stations, and others in journalism realize that diversity is important enough, you know, an important enough goal because it will make their publications and their stations better, that ultimately they'll stay committed to it.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would just like to know. I heard you talking about being black before and the race card. What does you being black have to do with what you did?

BLAIR: I didn't catch the beginning of the question. The race card?

CALLER: Yes. You were talking about being black.

KING: Did your being black have anything to do with what you did?

BLAIR: The point that I make over and over again -- the point that I've made over and over again is it's impossible to tell how racism or how affirmative action ultimately affected me. I wasn't behind -- you know, I wasn't behind the doors when they were making decisions about hiring me. For all I know, they said we have this really talented recruit who happens to be black. And I don't know whether me being a pawn in different racial games helped me or hurt me.

KING: Boston, hello. Boston, are you there? Boston? good-bye.

Wallingford, Connecticut, hello.

CALLER: Larry, you're the greatest. Jayson, you referred to your drug and alcohol abuse in the past tense. Are you presently in support groups, or do you consider yourself cured by admission?

BLAIR: No, no. Not at all. I am presently in support groups. I presently see a therapist. I am a part of a number of different self-help groups, you know, that are the key, the absolute key to my recovery. You know, without that, I know that it would have been a much more difficult road for me to end up at.

KING: Birmingham, Alabama. Hello. Birmingham, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I'm here.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I'm a human resource executive in Birmingham, Alabama and I want to know why Jayson Blair thinks his story warrants being covered by LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Well, it's a major story of a figure. It involves a lot of what involves in society and the most famous newspaper in the world. Why do you think it isn't, ma'am?

CALLER: I think he's a poor performer, and I think a poor reflection on the industry itself.

KING: Aren't you curious about how this happened? How this could happen at a great newspaper? Do you question other things you read in the newspaper? Are you concerned about a young man who had this obvious talent and then let this get loose and get away from him? Doesn't that interest you as a human?

CALLER: It does interest me.

KING: That's why we're doing it.

CALLER: Well, I'm still saying there are many, many successful African-Americans and many, many successful blacks who perform in their job, and you choose to have on your show...

KING: This I should make clear, if Jayson Blair were white or Latino, he'd have been on this show tonight with what he'd done at the "New York Times."

CALLER: I don't know. Do you think that?

KING: I'm telling you.

BLAIR: There's no doubt.

KING: To Queens, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi. When Mr. Blair filed these stories, he fully knew that someone else had written them. As a plagiarist, how do you go to bed at night, and do you have a conscience? And, secondly, you should be apologizing to everyone at the "New York Times" and everyone that reads the "New York Times."

KING: How do you respond?

BLAIR: I mean, I'm -- I am sorry. And, you know, I've made public apologies. I've said that I'm sorry. And I'll say it again, that I'm sorry for the damage that it caused the "New York Times." I'm sorry for, you know, the people whose careers were hurt.

To your first question about, as a plagiarist, how do I go to sleep at night? I'm not plagiarizing anymore. I go to sleep much more comfortably than I did when I was.

KING: We'll go to break. As we go to break, Jayson was involved in the coverage of the Virginia sniper, right?

BLAIR: Right.

KING: Some of it true, some of it plagiarized, right?

BLAIR: Correct.

KING: Here's the reaction of the people to that.


BOYD: You had a government official on the tube, on CNN attacking the integrity of the "New York Times."

ROBERT HORAN, ATTORNEY: I happen to know what the evidence is in the so-called sniper cases. And things that are reported in that "New York Times" article are simply not true. And I want the media to know that. Particularly the media that falls like lemons behind the "New York Times" and says whatever the "New York Times" says as if it's gospel. They've been wrong before, and they're wrong on this one.




KATIE COURIC, CO-HOST, "TODAY SHOW": So many journalists are trying their hardest to do a good job and to be accurate and fair and thorough, and yet, of course, it's the people who aren't, they're the ones who often get the attention. And we hear, you know, it seems like every day lately we're hearing about a journalist who got fired, who's under investigation, and, you know, the amount, the copious amount of material that has to be put out every day from outlets all across the country and the world, sometimes these people just get through the cracks.


KING: Do you agree with that?

BLAIR: Yes. No, I agree with Katie completely on that one.

KING: Were you sexually abused as a child?

BLAIR: Yes. Yes. I mean, it's something that...

KING: By whom?

BLAIR: We haven't said. It's not a close relative. And one thing I want to make absolutely clear is that it was not an immediate relative in my family.

KING: Tampa, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for Mr. Blair is is there any movie deals in the works? Also, sir, if you're truly sorry for what you did, would you consider using the profits to whatever happened at the "New York Times" towards perhaps educating young people on examples of what not to do when it comes to journalism?

BLAIR: Yes. One of the things that my publisher and I decided early on in the process was that we were going to take a portion of the proceeds from the royalties of the book and put it toward some kind of journalism-related education and also I've decided personally that some of the proceeds will go towards some kind of mental health awareness.

KING: You owe that to yourself as well as others?

KING: Yes, exactly.

KING: Fallbrook, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry and Jayson. My question is for Jayson. The medication that you take for your manic depression -- I'm a nurse, so I'm very interested in this. I know that in the past a lot of people will stop the medication because of side effects. Are you having side effects, and if so, will you still continue to work with that problem?

KING: Are you having?

BLAIR: Yes, I am having some negative side effects. Initially, I was put on a set of drugs where I had some horrible side effects. And those have recently been adjusted. So my side effects are much more minor. The one thing that I can say that any physical discomfort or weight gain or other things like that or, you know, sickness that comes along with it, it's worth it to have my mind. And it's a daily fight to actually take the medication because I like the mania. I actually enjoy it. I get a lot. You know, that's part of what made me a good journalist.

KING: I'd like to do more with you. Thank you, Jayson.

BLAIR: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Jayson Blair, former "New York Times" journalist resigned after committing the acts of journalistic fraud and has written "Burning Down My Master's House, My Life at the "New York Times".

I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow. Don't go away.


KING: You all know our young friend Mattie Stupenak (ph), the victim of muscular dystrophy who writes those wonderful books of poetry. Mattie's had a tough day today. Had a heart problem and he's in intensive care in a hospital in Maryland and he has the best wishes and hopes of all of us to see young Mattie back at his desk again.

On the lighter side of young good things, Chance King of my household is five years old today. Hard to believe but the big Chance man is five. Party will be Saturday. Batman and Robin are expected.

Hey, what are you going do? I never had a birthday party when I was a kid. My father would buy me an ice cream cone and say go out and play. Anyway, he's heading overseas. Yes, our man, Aaron Brown heads off to -- he's going to Iraq. He's going to Pakistan. He's going to Afghanistan. He's going to Bahrain. We envy you. Bahrain in March is Heaven. Have a good trip, Aaron.


Jayson Blair>

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.