Disgraced journalist Jayson Blair may have abused his profession by fabricating stories, but he also unwittingly shed light on an open secret: America's epidemic of lying.
In journalism, inventing facts and sources is clearly a fundamental violation, the breaking of a covenant between a publication and its readers. Witness last week's resignations of New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd in the wake of the Blair case.
But is that covenant truly sacred to the public?
This, after all, is a culture that has come to accept and even expect skewed information at best, outright lies at worst, in everything from government to advertising to art. A generation after Watergate and Vietnam, scandals that made truth a casualty have lost their power to scandalize. We live in a society of widespread duplicity and deceit.
The Blair commentary has covered the spectrum from grave introspection to indifferent yawns. But pull back a few steps from all the sermons, hand-wringing and jokes, and there may be a broader and more nuanced view of this latest desecration of the public trust. Perhaps, in a postmodern world that is increasingly comfortable with irony, ambiguity, relativism and doubt, we simply no longer believe it's possible to distinguish fiction definitively from fact, lies from truth.
Read the entire article on The San Francisco Examiner website.