JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Friday, May 16, 2003
 
Sullivan Jumps the Shark

In an attempt to remind us all of the 1990s (the gossip-mongered, no-unsubstantiated-accusation against the Clinton left-unturned 1990s), Andrew Sullivan jumps the shark on the New York Times Blair scandal.

In his most recent post, Sullivan writes: "Two days after he quit the New York Times, Jayson Blair, whose credit cards were all maxed out and who used national editor Jim Roberts' card for expenses, somehow paid off a $3853 American Express bill. Whence the sudden infusion of money?"

Sullivan's implication is clear: Blair was paid off by somebody. By whom, of course, Sullivan doesn't say (but he does use the word "whence" -- a word I don't think I've ever used, myself). But, who would pay Blair off? The Times? Howell Raines, himself? The University of Maryland journalism school? Any other guesses? Any other guesses that are *less* absurd? Question number two is, of course: why would they pay him off? To keep Blair quiet so the Times would not have to come clean about the scandal?

Whence came the money? Let's give it a try. Perhaps he got a new credit card with one of those balance-transfer programs? Or a loan from friends? Or from his savings? Or his parents paid it off for him? Or he had worked out a payment plan with the law firm representing American Express -- a plan which was finalized this month? None of these seem too illogical.

Or maybe, I suppose, Blair did get the money via nefarious means. However, without any data, Sullivan is attempting to manufacture a scandal. It's the "good old days" all over again.

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