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<div class="quote-block">Published on Friday, June 6, 2003 by<br><br><br><br>
Jayson Blair to Replace Ari Fleischer at White House<br><br><br><br>
by Don Monkerud<br><br><br><br>
The Bush Administration announced Monday that former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair will replace Ari Fleischer as White House Press Secretary.<br><br><br><br>
Known as a cautious and calculating press secretary who constantly ducks tough questions, Fleischer announced in May that he would resign between the invasions of Iraq and Iran to give the White House time to replace him.<br><br><br><br>
"It's a good time to leave," said Fleischer. "How would you like to explain 60,000 major businesses filing for bankruptcy under Bush, a nose-diving dollar, three million people out of work, a record budget deficit, $95,000 tax cuts for millionaires, and increasing pollution?"<br><br><br><br>
White House sources report that Jayson Blair, former staff reporter for the New York Times, will be offered for the job. Blair, who is known for widespread fabrication and plagiarism in his news articles, is considered a shoe-in for the job, although some doubt that Blair, by forging inaccuracies in only 36 out of 73 new stories, can keep up with White House demands.<br><br><br><br>
"The White House requires telling many whoppers everyday, and this young man really knows how to spin the truth," said Victoria Darkness, a Pentagon spokeswoman.<br><br><br><br>
Blair's strengths for the job include an ability to embellished madly, claiming to be places he has never visited and an egregious stealing of stories from other reporters. Critics find somewhat more troubling the fact that his errors and fabrications at the New York Times were mostly benign: They didn't start a war, execute an innocent person or undermine foreign governments. The Pentagon hopes that the New York Times charges that "the audacity of the deceptions grew by the week" will help Blair grow quickly into his role as White House press secretary.<br><br><br><br>
"Americans love the colorful, subjective, and bogus details," said Darkness. "Blair enjoys the process of making up stories, creating better, more interesting and more effective stories to serve the interest of the Republican Party, the Pentagon and our wealthy benefactors. We look forward to his tenure."<br><br><br><br>
Veteran reporters were not surprised at Fleischer's resignation, pointing out that he wears hip boots to press conferences where he explains that Iraq is not a quagmire. During a recent press conference, others detected grimaces instead of his usual stern, tight-lipped performance. "Fleischer shows superb control to keep from bursting out laughing at some of his explanations of Bush's policy," said one reporter.<br><br><br><br>
Observers admitted they will miss Fleischer's "constant fibbing" and backtracking, and compare him favorably to former press secretaries like Pat Buchanan, who can't find a job, and Ron Ziegler, who helped Nixon cover up Watergate. "Watching him explain the famous 'disappearing' weapons of mass destruction is hilarious," said one friend.<br><br><br><br>
Rumors indicate that Fleischer resigned because he was angry at the White House press pool for not accepting his explanation of the Tooth Fairy, although Fleischer maintains he is quitting for "personal" reasons. Some claim his bride of six months is unhappy with his frequent absences and the excuse that he must attend late night White House "prayer meetings." His wife fears that he may no longer be able to distinguish fact from fiction and may lose his ability to speak coherently after spending so much time with the president. Fleischer denies the charges.<br><br><br><br>
"Being press secretary is one big con job," said Fleischer. "It may be a charade, but it's easier than working for Exxon/Mobil or Grace Industries. All I have to do is tell the same story over and over until people believe it."<br><br><br><br>
Although Fleischer refused to explain where he kissed the president after he announced his resignation, President Bush kissed him on the head. "Isn't he wonderful," said Bush. "We can tell him anything and he goes out and repeats it to the press corps. The guy has no shame."<br><br><br><br>
Washington will miss Fleischer who had to meet more often with the press because President Bush held only eight press conferences, preferring to read from carefully scripted speeches due to a "garbled reasoning" syndrome brought on by his heavy alcohol consumption when he was in his forties. Recently, Fleischer's reasoning resembles that of the president's.<br><br><br><br>
While defending Bush's plan to suspend collective bargaining for government employees, Fleischer told the press, "The president will have more authority to help protect the homeland if potatoes attacked America in the Department of Agriculture." The End<br><br><br><br>
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based columnist and author who follows politics. <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a><br><br><br><br>
Copyright 2003 Don Monkerud<br><br><br><br>
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