She may appear to be frighteningly serious, but BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders was a fun-loving girl in her younger days as a journalist. At least, that’s according to the disgraced American hack, Jayson Blair.
Blair has kept a very low profile in the five years since his resignation from The New York Times in a huge row over making up stories, but we persuaded him to share his memories of his former colleague.
He told Axegrinder: ‘Me telling you that Stephanie is brilliant and a warm friend is not going to add anything new to the discussion. The only thing I can add is that Stephanie has an amazing wit and intelligence, was as fun-loving as she was brilliant, but was way too smart to partake in the idiotic and outrageous behaviour that I made my hallmark.
‘Long before [then metro editor] Jon Landman knew there was a problem with me, Stephanie could tell something was wrong. She was caring, compassionate and tried to get me on the right track. I will always be indebted for her friendship and the fact that she allowed me into her life. That’s the beginning and the end of it.”
In his book Burning Down My Masters’ House, which contains his confessions of cocaine abuse and fabrication of stories, Blair writes of ‘the drunken Saturday lunches with Stephanie Flanders, a brilliant Harvard graduate and correspondent brought in to cover poverty, who was perhaps the only person less suited for The Times than me”.
Blair recalls the time a senior manager asked how reporters were coping with the threat of anthrax attacks in the wake of 9/11. Flanders told him simply: ‘We drink.”
Makes you feel proud to be British, doesn’t it?