In the course of a wide-ranging report on plagiarism, Lee Cowan talked with disgraced New York Times reporter Jayson Blair about how he got his start as journalism’s most famous plagiarist.
Blair: I actually just took a quote from an Associated Press story, put it in the paper and didn’t attribute it to the AP.
Cowan: And what’d you think when you did that the first time?
Blair: I thought ‘Oh my God, maybe I can go to the copy desk and get this fixed,’ and then I thought about — wait, you know, what are they gonna think. And a couple days go by. And the thought that goes through my head was, ‘I can’t believe no one caught that.’ But the seed was planted in my head.
Cowan: That you could get away with it.
Blair also told Cowan about the psychology of plagiarizing: “I think once you realize that you can get away with something, once you cross over that line, you somehow have to rationalize, how I am a good person and I did this, so somehow this has to be OK, I’ve got to make this OK, so then it becomes a lot easier to do it,” he said.