Stephen Glass

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Stephen Glass
Stephen Randall Glass

(1972-09-15) September 15, 1972 (age 50)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
OccupationParalegal, writer

Stephen Randall Glass (born September 15, 1972)[1] worked as a journalist for The New Republic from 1995 to 1998, until it was revealed that many of his published articles were fabrications. An internal investigation by The New Republic determined that the majority of stories he wrote either contained false information or were fictitious. Glass later acknowledged that he had repaid over $200,000 to The New Republic and other publications for his earlier fabrications.[2]

Following the journalism scandal, Glass pursued a career in law. Although he earned a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and passed the bar exam in New York and California, he was unable to become a licensed attorney in either state over concerns derived from his scandal.[3] Glass instead found work as a paralegal at the law firm Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, serving as the director of special projects and trial team coordinator.[4]

Glass made a brief return to writing when he fictionalized his story in his 2003 novel The Fabulist.[5] The same year, the scandal was dramatized in the film Shattered Glass, which was based on a Vanity Fair article of the same name and starred Hayden Christensen as Glass.

Early life and education[edit]

Glass grew up in a Jewish family in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park,[6][7] and attended Highland Park High School.[8] He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania as University Scholar and was an executive editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.[4][9] His colleagues at The Daily Pennsylvanian included Sabrina Erdely, who later became involved in a fabricated story scandal owing to her Rolling Stone article "A Rape on Campus" and Alan Sepinwall, currently the chief television critic for Rolling Stone.[10][11]

Glass later graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctor degree and was named John M. Olin Fellow in law and economics.[4]


The New Republic[edit]

After his 1994 graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, Glass joined The New Republic in 1995 as an editorial assistant.[12] Soon after, the 23-year-old Glass advanced to writing features. While employed full-time at TNR, he also wrote for other magazines including Policy Review, George, Rolling Stone, Harper's and contributed to Public Radio International's (PRI) weekly hour-long program This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass (no relation to Stephen).

Although Glass enjoyed loyalty from The New Republic staff, his reporting repeatedly drew outraged rebuttals from the subjects of his articles, eroding his credibility and leading to private skepticism from insiders at the magazine. The magazine's majority owner and editor-in-chief, Martin Peretz, later said that his wife had told him that she did not find Glass's stories credible and had stopped reading them.[13]

In December 1996, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was the target of a hostile article by Glass titled "Hazardous to Your Mental Health". CSPI wrote a letter to the editor and issued a press release pointing out numerous inaccuracies and distortions and hinting at possible plagiarism.[14] The organization Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) accused Glass of falsehoods in his March 1997 article "Don't You D.A.R.E".[15] The New Republic defended Glass and editor Michael Kelly demanded CSPI apologize to him.[6]

In May 1997, Joe Galli of the College Republican National Committee accused Glass of fabrications in "Spring Breakdown", his lurid tale of drinking and debauchery at the 1997 Conservative Political Action Conference. A June 1997 article called "Peddling Poppy" about a Hofstra University conference on George H. W. Bush drew a letter from Hofstra reciting errors in the story.[15] On May 18, 1998, The New Republic published a story by Glass (by then an associate editor) entitled "Hack Heaven", purportedly telling the story of a 15-year-old hacker who had penetrated a company's computer network, then been hired by that company as a security consultant. The article opened as follows,

Ian Restil, a 15-year-old computer hacker who looks like an even more adolescent version of Bill Gates, is throwing a tantrum. "I want more money. I want a Miata. I want a trip to Disney World. I want X-Men comic [book] number one. I want a lifetime subscription to Playboy – and throw in Penthouse. Show me the money! Show me the money! ..." Across the table, executives from a California software firm called Jukt Micronics are listening and trying ever so delicately to oblige. "Excuse me, sir," one of the suits says tentatively to the pimply teenager. "Excuse me. Pardon me for interrupting you, sir. We can arrange more money for you."[16]

Adam Penenberg, a reporter with Forbes magazine, became suspicious when he found no search engine results for "Jukt Micronics", found that "Jukt Micronics" had just a single phone line, and saw that its website was extremely amateurish.[17] When challenged, Glass claimed to have been duped by "Restil". Glass took Charles Lane, the lead editor of The New Republic, to the Bethesda, Maryland hotel at which Restil had purportedly met with the Jukt executives; Lane discovered that on the day of the claimed meeting the hotel's conference room had been closed and the restaurant where the hackers supposedly ate dinner afterwards closes in the early afternoon.[6] Lane dialed a Palo Alto number provided by Glass and spoke with a man who identified himself as a Jukt executive; when he realized that the "executive" was actually Glass's brother, who attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, he fired Glass.[18]

Lane later said:

We extended normal human trust to someone who basically lacked a conscience... We busy, friendly folks, were no match for such a willful deceiver... We thought Glass was interested in our personal lives, or our struggles with work, and we thought it was because he cared. Actually, it was all about sizing us up and searching for vulnerabilities. What we saw as concern was actually contempt.[19]


The New Republic subsequently determined that at least 27 of the 41 articles Glass wrote for the magazine contained fabricated material. Some of the 27, such as "Don't You D.A.R.E.", contained real reporting interwoven with fabricated quotations and incidents,[20] while others, including "Hack Heaven," were completely made up.[12] In the process of creating the "Hack Heaven" article, Glass had gone to especially elaborate lengths to thwart the discovery of his deception by TNR's fact checkers: creating a website[21] and voice mail account for Jukt Micronics; fabricating notes of story gathering;[22] having fake business cards printed; and even composing editions of a fake computer hacker community newsletter.[12]

As for the balance of the 41 stories, Lane, in an interview given for the 2005 DVD edition of Shattered Glass, said, "In fact, I'd bet lots of the stuff in those other 14 is fake too. ... It's not like we're vouching for those 14, that they're true. They're probably not either". Rolling Stone, George and Harper's also re-examined his contributions. Rolling Stone and Harper's found the material generally accurate yet maintained they had no way of verifying information because Glass had cited anonymous sources. George discovered that at least three of the stories Glass wrote for it contained fabrications.[23] Glass fabricated quotations in a profile piece and apologized to the article's subject, Vernon Jordan, an adviser to Bill Clinton when he was president. A court filing for Glass's application to the California bar gave an updated count on his journalism career: 36 of his stories at The New Republic were said to be fabricated in part or in whole, along with three articles for George, two articles for Rolling Stone and one for Policy Review.[23] Glass also later wrote a letter admitting he fabricated the article he wrote for Harper’s and the company retracted the story (the publication’s first retraction in 165 years).[24]

Glass had contributed a story to an October 1997 episode of the NPR program This American Life about an internship at George Washington's former plantation and another to a December 1997 episode about time he spent as a telephone psychic. The program subsequently removed both segments from the Archives section of its website "because of questions about [their] truthfulness".[25][26]

Later work[edit]

After journalism, Glass earned a J.D. degree at Georgetown University Law Center. He then passed the New York State bar examination in 2000 but the Committee of Bar Examiners refused to certify him on its moral fitness test, citing ethics concerns related to his journalistic malpractice.[27] He later abandoned his efforts to be admitted to the bar in New York.[28]

In 2003, Glass published a so-called "biographical novel", The Fabulist.[29] Glass sat for an interview with the weekly news program 60 Minutes timed to coincide with the release of his book. The New Republic's literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, complained, "The creep is doing it again. Even when it comes to reckoning with his own sins, he is still incapable of nonfiction. The careerism of his repentance is repulsively consistent with the careerism of his crimes".[29] One reviewer of The Fabulist commented, "The irony—we must have irony in a tale this tawdry—is that Mr. Glass is abundantly talented. He's funny and fluent and daring. In a parallel universe, I could imagine him becoming a perfectly respectable novelist—a prize-winner, perhaps, with a bit of luck".[30]

Also in 2003, Glass briefly returned to journalism, writing an article about Canadian marijuana laws for Rolling Stone.[31] On November 7, 2003, Glass participated in a panel discussion on journalistic ethics at George Washington University, along with the editor who had hired him at The New Republic, Andrew Sullivan, who accused Glass of being a "serial liar" who was using "contrition as a career move".[32]

It was very painful for me. It was like being on a guided tour of the moments of my life I am most ashamed of.

Stephen Glass, reacting to Shattered Glass[33]

A film about the scandal, Shattered Glass, was released in October 2003 and depicted a stylized view of Glass's rise and fall at The New Republic. Written and directed by Billy Ray, it starred Hayden Christensen as Glass, Peter Sarsgaard as Charles Lane, Hank Azaria as Michael Kelly and Steve Zahn as Adam Penenberg. The film, appearing shortly after The New York Times suffered a similar plagiarism scandal with the discovery of Jayson Blair's fabrications, occasioned critiques of journalism by nationally prominent journalists such as Frank Rich and Mark Bowden.[34]

Glass was out of the public eye for several years following the release of his novel and the film. In 2007, he was performing with a Los Angeles comedy troupe known as Un-Cabaret, having earlier found employment at a small law firm, apparently as a paralegal.[35][36]

After working for two judges in Washington, D.C.,  Glass continues working for the personal-injury firm in West Hollywood, California. When joining the firm in 2004, a senior partner told Glass that being exposed as a serial fabricator “is the best thing that ever happened to you. Now that you’ve fallen on your face, you can actually be a useful human being."[37] Also remarking later, "brilliance that has overcome failure can be truly useful to your fellow man.”[38] Glass is not licensed to practice law. At the firm he is listed as director of special projects.[39][37]


In 2015, Glass again made the news after reportedly sending Harper's Magazine a check for $10,000 – what he was paid for the false articles – writing in the attached letter that he wanted "to make right that part of my many transgressions...I recognize that repaying Harper's will not remedy my wrongdoing, make us even, or undo what I did wrong. That said, I did not deserve the money that Harper's paid me and it should be returned".[40] Glass has stated he has repaid $200,000 to The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Harper's and the publisher of Policy Review.[41]

Unsuccessful California Bar application[edit]

In 2009, Glass applied to join the State Bar of California.[42] The Committee of Bar Examiners refused to certify him, finding that he did not satisfy California's moral fitness test because of his history of journalistic deception.[27] Insisting that he had reformed, Glass then petitioned the State Bar Court's hearing department, which found that Glass possessed the necessary "good moral character" to be admitted as an attorney.[27][23]

The Committee of Bar Examiners sought review in the State Bar's Review Department and filed a Writ of Review, thereby petitioning the California Supreme Court to review the decision.[27] On November 16, 2011, the Supreme Court granted the petition, the first time in 11 years the court had granted review in a moral character case.[27] On January 3, 2012, Glass's attorneys filed papers with the Court arguing that his behavior had been beyond reproach for more than 13 years and this was proof that he had reformed.[43]

On November 6, 2013, the California Supreme Court heard arguments in Glass's case[44] and ruled unanimously against him in an opinion issued January 27, 2014. The lengthy opinion describes in minute detail the applicant's history, record, the bar's applicable standard of review, the appeal and its analysis of how Glass failed to satisfy the court's standards, concluding, "On this record, he has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law".[3] On that basis, Glass was denied admission to the California bar.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Glass met his future wife in 1998 in connection with his legal issues. He and Julie Hilden, lawyer and author, were together since 2000 and married in 2014 after she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.[46]

Glass tended to her in their Venice home and hired a housekeeper and aides to stay with her while he was at work. Hilden died in 2018.[47][46][48]

Published novels[edit]

  • Stephen Glass (2003). The Fabulist. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-2712-3.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. birth records
  2. ^ Discredited journalist Stephen Glass reveals $200,000 repayments to 4 magazines - The Chronicle
  3. ^ a b "In Re Glass" (PDF). Supreme Court of California. January 27, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Zuckerman, Paul. "Stephen Glass". Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  5. ^ Stephen Glass (2003). The Fabulist. Simon & Schuster. p. 234. ISBN 0-7432-2712-3.
  6. ^ a b c Bissinger, H. G. (September 1998). "Shattered Glass". Vanity Fair.
  7. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (October 30, 2003). "Journalistic Fake-Out Before Blair". Jewish Journal.
  8. ^ Handbook of Frauds, Scams, and Swindles: Failures of Ethics in Leadership - Google Books
  9. ^ Erdeley, Sabrina. "Reflections on a Shattered Glass". Pennsylvania Gazette. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  10. ^ The Pennsylvania Gazette: Through a Glass Darkly (2/4)
  11. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (March 9, 2008). "The Wire, "-30-": Farewell to Baltimore". What's Alan Watching?. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Leung, Rebecca (August 17, 2003). "Stephen Glass: I lied for self-esteem". 60 Minutes. CBS News.
  13. ^ David Skinner (October 31, 2003). "Picking Up the Pieces". Weekly Standard.
  14. ^ "Letter to the editor of The New Republic" (Press release). Center for Science in the Public Interest. January 8, 1997. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Jonathan Last (October 31, 2003). "Stopping Stephen Glass". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2007.
  16. ^ Stephen Glass (May 18, 1998). "Washington Scene: Hack Heaven". The New Republic.
  17. ^ Adam Penenberg (May 11, 1998). "Lies, damn lies, and fiction". Forbes.
  18. ^ "Former Editor of 'The New Republic' Charles Lane". Fresh Air. NPR. November 17, 2003.
  19. ^ [dead link]Jim Romenesko (May 3, 2004). "Sussing out a charming newsroom sociopath isn't so easy". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015.
  20. ^ Stephen Glass (January 25, 1999). "Letter to D.A.R.E. from Stephen Glass". National Families in Action.
  21. ^ "Fake "Jukt Micronics" page". Archived from the original on December 23, 2003.
  22. ^ Hanna Rosin (November 10, 2014). "Hello, My Name Is Stephen Glass, and I'm Sorry". 'The New Republic.
  23. ^ a b c "Trust me, an infamous serial liar says". CNN. December 17, 2011.
  24. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (December 15, 2015). "Column: Stephen Glass is still retracting his fabricated stories — 18 years later". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ "Stuck in the Wrong Decade". This American Life. October 10, 1997. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  26. ^ "How to Take Money from Strangers". This American Life. December 12, 1997. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d e Cheryl Miller (November 17, 2011). "Justices to Decide if Lying Journalist Fit to Practice Law". (subscription required). Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  28. ^ "Disgraced ex-journalist fights for CA law license". Associated Press. December 27, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  29. ^ a b David D. Kirkpatrick (May 7, 2003). "A History Of Lying Recounted As Fiction". The New York Times.
  30. ^ Adam Begley (May 18, 2003). "Disgraced journalist's 'novel' is Janet Malcolm for Dummies". New York Observer.
  31. ^ Stephen Glass (September 4, 2003). "Canada's Pot Revolution". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 3, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2007.
  32. ^ Jack Shafer (November 7, 2003). "Half a Glass: The incomplete contrition of serial liar Stephen Glass". Slate.
  33. ^ David Carr (October 19, 2003). "FILM: Authors of Their Own Demise; The Real Star of Stephen Glass's Movie". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010.
  34. ^ Howard Good (2007). "2". Journalism Ethics Goes to the Movies. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0742554283.
  35. ^ "Un-Cabaret Talent". Archived from the original on October 30, 2007. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  36. ^ "Shattered Glass". Vanity Fair. October 2007.
  37. ^ a b "Stephen Glass's Biggest Lie". Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  38. ^ Karas, Ann O'Neill,Beth (December 16, 2011). "Trust me, an infamous serial liar says". CNN. Retrieved October 31, 2022.
  39. ^ Porter, Jane (December 5, 2021). "Sunday Reading: The Second Life of Stephen Glass". INDY Week. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  40. ^ Ravi Somaiya (October 16, 2015). "Stephen Glass Repays Harper's $10,000 for His Discredited Work". The New York Times.
  41. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (March 29, 2016). "Stephen Glass says he's repaid $200,000 to 4 magazines". Poynter. Retrieved September 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  42. ^ Stephen Rodrick (January 24, 2011). "Martin Peretz Is Not Sorry About Anything". The New York Times.
  43. ^ Bob Egelko (January 4, 2012). "Disgraced journalist Stephen Glass makes his case". San Francisco Chronicle.
  44. ^ "In Re Stephen Glass: Oral Arguments". Video. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  45. ^ Maura Dolan (January 28, 2014). "Disgraced journalist Stephen Glass unlikely to ever be lawyer". LA Times. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  46. ^ a b "Stephen Glass's Biggest Lie". Retrieved October 24, 2022.
  47. ^ "Julie Hilden Obituary (1968 - 2018) - Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles Times".
  48. ^ Porter, Jane (December 5, 2021). "Sunday Reading: The Second Life of Stephen Glass". INDY Week. Retrieved October 24, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Many of the articles that Glass wrote for The New Republic are no longer available online. Below are links to some of those articles which Glass is suspected of fabricating in part or in whole: