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Stephen Glass

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Stephen Randall Glass
Stephen Randall Glass

(1972-09-15) September 15, 1972 (age 51)
Highland Park, IL
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
Occupation(s)Paralegal, writer
Years active1995–1998 (as journalist)
(m. 2014; died 2018)

Stephen Randall Glass (born September 15, 1972)[1] is an American former journalist. He worked for The New Republic from 1995 to 1998 until it was revealed many of his published articles were fabrications. An internal investigation by The New Republic determined the majority of stories he wrote either contained false information or were fictitious.

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.[2] 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.[3]

Glass made a brief return to writing when he fictionalized his story in his 2003 novel The Fabulist.[4] The same year, the scandal was dramatized in the film Shattered Glass, which is based on a Vanity Fair article of the same name and stars Hayden Christensen as Glass.

Journalism career


Glass grew up in a Jewish family in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park,[5][6] and attended Highland Park High School.[7] He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania as University Scholar and was an executive editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.[3][8] After his graduation, Glass worked for the conservative Policy Review before being hired by The New Republic in 1995 as an editorial assistant.[5][9] Soon after, the 23-year-old Glass advanced to writing features. While employed full-time at TNR, he also wrote for other magazines including George, Rolling Stone, and Harper's;[10][11] he also contributed to Public Radio International's (PRI) This American Life.[12]

New Republic work


Glass generally enjoyed loyalty from The New Republic staff.[11] But his articles generally relied on unnamed or partially identified sources, and several of his pieces prompted denials from their subjects.[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] 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]

Through these allegations, The New Republic generally defended Glass; editor Michael Kelly even demanded CSPI apologize to Glass.[5] Still, 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.[16]



In the May 18, 1998, issue, 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."[17]

Adam Penenberg, a reporter with Forbes magazine, endeavored to fact check the piece, in part to explain how "Forbes Digital had been scooped by a weekly political publication."[18] Beyond Glass's story, Penenberg found no search results for "Jukt Micronics", and, when he made an inquiry to the California Franchise Tax Board, the tax board reported back that no such company had ever paid taxes.[18] Penenberg also found that several other claims Glass made in the article appeared to be false: Glass claimed that law-enforcement officials in Nevada ran articles pleading with companies not to hire hackers, but Bob Harmon, Public Information Officer for the Nevada State Attorney General's Office, said no such ads ran.[18] Glass claimed that 21 states were considering a "Uniform Computer Security Act", which would "criminalize immunity deals between hackers and companies," but law enforcement officials and the National Conference of Commissions on Uniform State Laws were unaware of any such proposed legislation.[18] Glass claimed that there had been a computer-hacker conference in Bethesda, Maryland, sponsored by the "National Assembly of Hackers", but the Forbes team "could not unearth a single hacker who had even heard of this outfit, let alone attended the conference."[18]

On Friday, May 8, 1998, Forbes presented its full findings to Charles Lane, the lead editor of The New Republic.[19] Lane had, to that point, been unaware of potential issues with the article.[19] Lane had Glass take him to a Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland, where Glass had claimed the computer-hacker convention occurred.[13][5] He found that the hotel's layout did not match the story's description, the building in which the piece said the event took place had not been open on the supposed day of the conference, and the restaurant where the hackers supposedly had a dinner banquet afterwards closed in the mid afternoon.[13] 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, he fired Glass.[20]

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.[21]



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,[22] while others, including "Hack Heaven", were completely made up.[9] 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[23][18] and voice mail account for Jukt Micronics; fabricating notes of story gathering;[11] having fake business cards printed; and even composing editions of a fake computer hacker community newsletter.[9]

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.[24] 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.[24] 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).[25]

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".[26][27]

In 2003, Glass briefly returned to journalism, writing an article about Canadian marijuana laws for Rolling Stone.[28] 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".[29]

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[30]

Depiction in other media


In 2003, Glass published a fictionalized account of his time at the New Republic, the "biographical novel", The Fabulist.[31] 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".[31] 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".[32]

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 stars 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.[33]

Restitution efforts


In 2015, Glass sent 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".[34] Glass has stated he has repaid $200,000 to The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Harper's and the publisher of Policy Review.[35]


In 2000, Glass graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctor degree and was named a John M. Olin Fellow in law and economics.[3][36] 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.[37] He later abandoned his efforts to be admitted to the bar in New York.[38]

Glass clerked for D.C. Superior Court Judge A. Franklin Burgess, Jr.[39][40] and interned for district-court judge Ricardo M. Urbina.[41][3] In 2004, he was hired by Carpenter & Zuckerman, a personal injury law firm in West Hollywood, California.[39] When joining the firm, 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."[39] Also remarking later, "brilliance that has overcome failure can be truly useful to your fellow man."[24] Glass is not licensed to practice law. At the firm he is listed as director of special projects.[42][39]

Unsuccessful California Bar application


Glass passed the California Bar Exam in 2006[2]: 2  or 2007.[43] In 2009, Glass applied to join the State Bar of California.[44] 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.[37] 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.[37][24]

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.[37] 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.[37] 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.[45]

On November 6, 2013, the California Supreme Court heard arguments in Glass's case[46] and ruled unanimously against him in an opinion issued January 27, 2014. The lengthy opinion describes the applicant's history in minute detail, and rejected Glass's claim to have acted honestly since his deceptions as a journalist were revealed, instead finding "instances of dishonesty and disingenuousness persisting throughout that period".[2]: 31  The court was particularly troubled by "hypocrisy and evasiveness in Glass's testimony at the [2010] California State Bar hearing",[2]: 29  and further noted that he did not admit the full extent of his fabrications until the California State Bar moral character proceedings in 2007.[2]: 2,29  Accordingly, Glass was denied admission to the California bar.[47]

Personal life


In 1998, Glass met lawyer Julie Hilden in connection with his legal issues. They began dating in 2000, and married in 2014 after she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.[39] Glass tended to her in their home in Venice, Los Angeles and hired a housekeeper and aides to stay with her while he was at work. Hilden died in 2018.[48][39][42]



Fabricated articles


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:


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

See also



  1. ^ U.S. birth records
  2. ^ a b c d e Cantil-Sakauye, Tani; Kennard, Joyce L.; Baxter, Marvin R.; Werdegar, Kathryn; Chin, Ming; Corrigan, Carol A.; Mosk, Stanley (January 27, 2014), In Re Glass (PDF), Supreme Court of California
  3. ^ a b c d Zuckerman, Paul. "Stephen Glass". Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  4. ^ Glass, Stephen (2003). The Fabulist. Simon & Schuster. p. 234. ISBN 0-7432-2712-3.
  5. ^ a b c d Bissinger, H. G. (September 1998). "Shattered Glass". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  6. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (October 30, 2003). "Journalistic Fake-Out Before Blair". Jewish Journal.
  7. ^ Shelton, Nancy M. (July 27, 2017). "The nature of honesty: Exploring examples of the literary hoax in America". In Matulich, Serge; Currie, David M. (eds.). Handbook of Frauds, Scams, and Swindles: Failures of Ethics in Leadership. CRC Press. pp. 10–13. ISBN 978-1-4200-7286-0.
  8. ^ Erdeley, Sabrina (January 1, 2004). "Reflections on a Shattered Glass". Pennsylvania Gazette. University of Pennsylvania.
  9. ^ a b c Leung, Rebecca (August 17, 2003). "Stephen Glass: I lied for self-esteem". 60 Minutes. CBS News.
  10. ^ St. John, Warren (May 25, 1998). "How journalism's new golden boy got thrown out of New Republic". Observer.
  11. ^ a b c Rosin, Hanna (November 10, 2014). "Hello, my name is Stephen Glass, and I'm sorry". The New Republic.
  12. ^ Judkis, Maura (March 29, 2012). "'This American Life' pulls three 90s-era Stephen Glass episodes". Washington Post.
  13. ^ a b c Folkenflik, David (May 10, 2003). "Shattered Image". Baltimore Sun.
  14. ^ O'Reilly, Kathleen F. (January 8, 1997). "Your article, Hazardous to Your Mental Health, Dec. 30, by Stephen Glass". Letter to the editor of The New Republic. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Last, Jonathan V. (October 30, 2003). "Stopping Stephen Glass". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on January 6, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2007.
  16. ^ Skinner, David (October 31, 2003). "Picking Up the Pieces". Washington Examiner.
  17. ^ Glass, Stephen (May 18, 1998). "Washington Scene: Hack Heaven". The New Republic.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Penenberg, Adam L. (May 11, 1998). "Lies, damn lies and fiction". Forbes.com. Accompanying screenshot.
  19. ^ a b Penenberg, Adam L. (May 11, 1998). "Forbes smokes out fake New Republic story on hackers". Forbes.com.
  20. ^ Terry Gross (Host), Charles Lane (Guest) (November 17, 2003). Former editor of 'The New Republic' Charles Lane. Fresh Air. NPR.
  21. ^ Lane, Charles (May 1, 2004). "Charmed, I'm sure". Washington Post (Opinion). Retrieved May 14, 2024.
  22. ^ Glass, Stephen (January 25, 1999). "RE: "Don't You D.A.R.E." - The New Republic, March 3, 1997, "Truth & D.A.R.E" - Rolling Stone, March 5, 1998". Letter to Glen Levant, President, D.A.R.E. America. National Families in Action. Archived from the original on April 12, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2006.
  23. ^ "Fake "Jukt Micronics" page". Archived from the original on December 23, 2003.
  24. ^ a b c d O'Neill, Ann; Karas, Beth (December 17, 2011). "Trust me, an infamous serial liar says". CNN.
  25. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (December 15, 2015). "Stephen Glass is still retracting his fabricated stories — 18 years later". Los Angeles Times (Opinion). Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  26. ^ "Stuck in the Wrong Decade". This American Life. October 10, 1997. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  27. ^ "How to Take Money from Strangers". This American Life. December 12, 1997. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  28. ^ Glass, Stephen (September 4, 2003). "Canada's Pot Revolution". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 3, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2007.
  29. ^ Shafer, Jack (November 7, 2003). "Half a Glass: The incomplete contrition of serial liar Stephen Glass". Slate.
  30. ^ Carr, David (October 19, 2003). "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.
  31. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D. (May 7, 2003). "A History Of Lying Recounted As Fiction". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Begley, Adam (May 18, 2003). "Disgraced journalist's 'novel' is Janet Malcolm for Dummies". New York Observer.
  33. ^ Ehrlich, Matthew C. (2008). "Fabrication in journalism: Shattered Glass". In Good, Howard (ed.). Journalism ethics goes to the movies. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 19–34, at p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7425-5428-3.
  34. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (October 16, 2015). "Stephen Glass Repays Harper's $10,000 for His Discredited Work". The New York Times.
  35. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (March 29, 2016). "Stephen Glass says he's repaid $200,000 to 4 magazines". Poynter. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  36. ^ Ullman, Danielle (December 9, 2011). "Stephen Glass, Esq.?". The Daily Record.
  37. ^ a b c d e Miller, Cheryl (November 17, 2011). "Justices to decide if lying journalist fit to practice law". The Recorder. Law.com. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  38. ^ "Disgraced ex-journalist fights for CA law license". Portland Press-Herald. Associated Press. December 27, 2011.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Adair, Bill (December 4, 2021). "Loving lies: Stephen Glass's biggest lie". Air Mail.
  40. ^ Grove, Lloyd (March 7, 2001). "The Reliable Source". Washington Post.
  41. ^ Eisenberg, Jon B. (January 3, 2012), Supplemental brief (PDF)
  42. ^ a b Porter, Jane (December 5, 2021). "Sunday Reading: The Second Life of Stephen Glass". INDY Week. Archived from the original on December 5, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  43. ^ Elias, Paul (January 27, 2014). "Court: Disgraced ex-journalist can't practice law". Associated Press. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
  44. ^ Rodrick, Stephen (January 24, 2011). "Martin Peretz is not sorry about anything". The New York Times.
  45. ^ Egelko, Bob (January 4, 2012). "Disgraced journalist Stephen Glass makes his case". San Francisco Chronicle.
  46. ^ In Re Stephen Glass: Oral Arguments (Video). November 6, 2013. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  47. ^ Dolan, Maura (January 28, 2014). "Disgraced journalist Stephen Glass unlikely to ever be lawyer". LA Times. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  48. ^ "Julie Hilden Obituary (1968–2018) – Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Times". Legacy.com.

Further reading