Jayson Blair on the first time he plagiarized: 'I can't believe no one caught that'

CBS Sunday Morning

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: Right.

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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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