http://www.nypost.com/gossip/cindy.htm 'NO RIGHT TO BE A JOURNALIST' Cindy Adams March 10, 2004 -- JAYSON BLAIR. Scourge of the New York Times. Author of the just-pub lished, "Burning Down My Masters' House: My Life at the New York Times." We had dinner Monday. That is, in between his popping up and down, scrambling to and fro and going in and out because he'd: A) misplaced his cell phone; B) forgotten his jacket; C) needed a smoke; D) displayed the dozen bottles of pills he takes daily; E) sprinted across the entire Jean-Luc restaurant on Columbus Avenue to personally inform our waiter he wanted a different entrée. So, what was this dude thinking, why'd he do what he did, why did he lie, why did he fabricate stories, why did he do this awful thing? He said: "Fear. You land one scoop. You need another the next day. Then, another and another. You're afraid you can't make it again. I knew I'd gotten somewhere a little by luck. I'd gotten a pass because I was black. I was fearful I couldn't cut it. "A front-page byline is like a drug high. Then comes the pressure to keep going. "I'm also anxious to please, so it's a combination. I'll do anything to make someone happy about me. Even in high school I manipulated people. I had to win them. "I'd hope to say I learned my lesson, but that would be another lie. Mine is a con-man personality. The real con being, I've always been better at selling myself than at doing the actual work. I grandstand. I have to fight this 'Catch Me If You Can' mentality. For me it's like diabetes, an incurable disease. "Look, I'm short and black. If I'm put on a pedestal, then I'm tall and white. I could convince myself I'm somebody." How did his manufacturing stories start? "I first took something from the Associated Press when I couldn't get a quote. I waited. I got away with it. I did it again. The daring then grows and grows. "But I wasn't alone doing things like this at the Times. I watched a colleague, on a Baltimore story, stay in Washington while having strangers make the actual calls from Baltimore. From Washington that person wrote the story with a Baltimore dateline. That's how I first got the idea to lie. "Others who do things like that know who they are and they're still at the Times. "Another colleague on the Coast told me, 'We all plagiarize. You just have to learn to rewrite your geography better.' " OK. So, his book is accusing The Gray Lady of menopause, right? "Yes. It's boring. Self-important. Pretentious. Intellectual elitists. It's just that their newspaper is larger. A storied name in history. An old-time status symbol like croquet. And the masthead is Gothic type. It's me more marketing than quality. "Just because I did bad things doesn't mean there aren't things wrong with the paper. They do stories on waxing orchids that grow on terraces. They write from an Upper West Side between 59th and 74th street perspective. "Everyone there thinks he's something and is pissed because, as a result of me, people laugh at them behind their backs at cocktail parties. They're convinced they're smarter than everyone else. They're not. They're condescending. I'll take a New York Post reporter over a Times guy anytime. And let me tell you, they all read The Post. It's snuck inside the pages of the Times. They read it under their desks." Another big sigh, another buttered roll, then: "Look, I'm having a hard time navigating. It's tough to realize I self-destructed. It's not like I didn't know it was wrong. I was on substance abuse, but I was never so impaired that I couldn't make the right choices. I have no right to be a journalist. "I'd have flashes of fear at getting caught. When it finally happened, I panicked. I went into a cold sweat. Scared out of my mind, I nearly did myself in." So, could he do this ever again? "I don't know. I'm crazier than a f - - - ing loon. It's in my blood." He's criss-crossing the country. Yesterday, L.A. for Larry King. Today, New York for Bill O'Reilly. Friday a book signing in Harlem. Why Harlem? "Because Michael Viner, my New Millennium publisher, says Times guys won't trouble me there. They don't travel that far north." As this Prince of Darkness split to hustle somewhere else, he said: "If you want, I'll write your column for you." I told him to get lost.