NEW YORK – Former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair said he "couldn't stop laughing" when the newspaper corrected his fraudulent description of an American POW's home in West Virginia, according to excerpts of an interview with the New York Observer.
"That's my favorite, just because the description was so far off from the reality. And the way they described it in The Times story -- someone read a portion of it to me -- I couldn't stop laughing," Blair said in an interview scheduled for publication Wednesday. The newspaper made excerpts available to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
In one of his few interviews since resigning from the Times on May 1, Blair told the Observer that he "fooled some of the most brilliant people in journalism" with his reporting.
In a brazen act of deception, Blair wrote under a dateline from Palestine, W.Va., about the family of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, a POW rescued in Iraq. He described the family's home as overlooking "tobacco fields and cattle pastures." The porch overlooks no such thing and no member of the Lynch family remembers talking to Blair, the Times said in an extensive investigation into his work.
The Times found fraud, plagiarism and inaccuracies in 36 of 73 articles examined between October and April.
Newsweek has reported that Blair signed with literary agent David Vigliano to market his story for possible book and movie deals. The magazine, citing friends of the ex-reporter, also reported that Blair had sought treatment for substance abuse.
According to excerpts from the Observer, Blair said his deceptions stemmed from personal problems.
"I was either going to kill myself or I was going to kill the journalist persona," he said. "So Jayson Blair the human being could live, Jayson Blair the journalist had to die."