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May 12, 2003
Katie Wright at (703) 683-5004 ext. 132

MRC’s TimesWatch Demands Howell Raines Answer The Question About Jayson Blair:

Did You Put Quotas Over Quality?

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. --- The director of the Media Research Center’s Timeswatch project, Clay Waters, is demanding New York Times executive editor Howell Raines come forward and clearly answer the question of whether the Times put quotas over quality in its handling of reporter Jayson Blair, who left the Times under a cloud of plagiarism.

     In recent broadcast interviews with both National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting, Raines dodged direct questions about whether or not the Times ignored many warning signs about Blair because it wanted to increase and maintain minority representation on its staff.

     “Mr. Raines needs to stop dodging and come forward and be clear. According to Times columnist William Safire, the editors had ‘plenty of warning: his 50-plus corrections in less than four years as a reporter, his evasion of questions about his whereabouts, complaints from colleagues.’ Why was Jayson Blair continually carried by the Times in the face of these developments?” Waters asked.

     Waters said the Times had done a thorough and candid job of covering Blair’s errors but he maintained that Raines refuses to address the central issue.

     “Until Mr. Raines sets the record straight on this issue a cloud will continue to hang over the New York Times. The newspaper has taken an increasingly hard leftward turn in its coverage and its circulation has dropped 5.3 percent in the past six months,” Waters said.


To schedule an interview with Mr. Waters, or another MRC spokesperson, contact Katie Wright at (703)-683-5004, ext. 132. For more information about Timeswatch visit www.timeswatch.org.





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