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The NEWYORKOBSERVER will report tomorrow that Jayson Blair, the disgraced 27-year-old NEWYORKTIMES reporter, has prepared a five-page book proposal for a memoir that will focus largely how his race and substance abuse played a significant role in his downfall from the TIMES!

Joe Hagan of the Observer has obtained two (2) pages of this five-page proposal. Additionally, Sridhar Pappu of the Observer has conducted the only full-length interview with Mr. Blair yet in record.

NYO's Sridhar Pappu conducted a spirited, two-hour sit-down interview with Jayson Blair and his friend and former Times co-worker, Zuza Glowacka, covering topics such as Mr. Blair's relationships with Metro Desk editor John Landman, executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd; race in the newsroom--and how it both helped and hurt his career; drugs and personal problems; and the anger that motivated the whole episode.

***These are excepts from Joe Hagan�s article on Mr. Blair�s literary agent and the aforementioned proposal:

David Vigliano, Mr. Blair's literary agent, told the Observer Mr. Blair's proposal would first be shopped as a film treatment, and then offered as a book.

"We'll probably do something in Hollywood first and hone the book proposal over the next few days," explained Mr. Vigliano. "I think we will be getting the proposal out in a week or ten days and expect to make a deal within a week after that."

Jayson Blair wrote about race extensively in the proposal:

�I want to offer my experience as a lesson, for the precipice from which I plunged is one on which many young, ambitious, well-educated and accomplished African Americans and other �minorities� teeter, though most, of course, do manage to pull back from the brink. That precipice overhangs America�s racial divide; and the winds sucking us down into the chasm (cultural isolation, professional mistrust, and the external and internal imperatives to succeed, at all costs, to name a few) can be too strong for the troubled and unprepared�as I was�to withstand.�

The discovery of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair's deception in his coverage of the Lynch family in West Virginia, especially his description of a house from which he wrote that tobacco fields and cattle were visible (they are not), provoked laughter from the disgraced journalist during his first extensive sit-down interview with the New York Observer's media columnist Sridhar Pappu.

"That's my favorite, just because the description was so far off from the reality. And the way they described it in The Times story--someone read a portion of it to me--I couldn't stop laughing."

In the interview, conducted on the morning of May 19 and being prepared for publication in tomorrow's editions of The New York Observer, he sought to dispel the notion that he was 'protected' from censure for inaccurate or fabricated reports by a principle of affirmative action or by a star-system at the Times that held him to a different standard from other reporters.

"Protected, my ass,� he said. �I spent days in the smoking room, days of my life in the smoking room complaining about how I wasn't protected. Protected by whom?�

Mr. Blair called managing editor Gerald Boyd an "antagonist," and claimed he tried to block Mr. Blair's summer 2002 move to the Sports Desk after it had gotten sign-offs from everyone else. Then, he claimed, Mr. Boyd attempted to block his promotion to the National Desk.

"He was the one we were constantly having to prove ourselves to," Mr. Blair said. "I don't particularly like Gerald. To suggest he was my mentor is not a fair characterization. It's an assumption based on race that's silly. And I don't like him! How did Gerald become my mentor?"

"Anyone who tells you that my race didn't play a role in my career at The New York Times is lying to you,� he said. �Both racial preferences and racism played a role. And I would argue that they didn't balance each other out. Racism had much more of an impact."

"Howell and Gerald have certainly had their problems. But using me against them is kind of unfair. Because what I'm a symbol of is what's wrong with The New York Times. And what's been wrong with The New York Times for a long time."

Mr. Blair on the affirmative action debate:

"I don't understand why I am the bumbling affirmative action hire when Stephen Glass is this brilliant whiz kid, when from my perspective, and I know I shouldn't be saying this, I fooled some of the most brilliant people in journalism. He's so brilliant and yet somehow I'm an affirmative action hire. They're all so smart, but I was sitting right under their nose fooling them. ...If they're all so brilliant and I'm such an affirmative action hire, how come they didn't they catch me?"

He said his actions were part of a pattern of destructive behaviors that stemmed from the stresses of journalism.

"I was either going to kill myself or I was going to kill the journalist persona. So Jayson Blair the human being could live, Jayson Blair the journalist had to die."

Commenting on his client's mental condition, Mr. Vigliano offered this: "I obviously wouldn't be dealing with somebody who was unstable."

Already, speculation in the New York Post has suggested the possibility of six or seven figure advance for a literary work by Mr. Blair. Those figures, said Mr. Vigliano, �don't seem unreasonable to me. It's a huge, huge story. �I've talked to Jayson and I've seen the richness of this story. It's a very deep and very textured and layered story and he's a gifted writer--and no, those figures don't seem unreasonable at all, by any means.�

Mr. Hagan also spoke to members of the publishing industry:

Publishers were highly skeptical of a Blair memoir. David Rosenthal, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, which published Stephen Glass's novel, said he would not be interested. He said the speed with which Mr. Blair was grabbing for a book deal was troubling to him. �It does appear a bit complicated and unseemly,� said Mr. Rosenthal.

�I am wholly uninterested,� said Jonathan Karp, the vice president and editorial director at Random House, echoing the sentiment of a number of editors contacted by the Observer. �It's a boring story that everybody already knows. I think the public will be completely satiated by the coverage in other newspapers and to revisit it in the form of a book is unlikely.�

Still, he conceded: �Far more boring stories by less interesting people have probably sold over the years.�


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