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A Trail of Broken Glass
March 5, 2014 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Stephen Glass was a well-known journalist at The New Republic who was exposed for multiple instances of fabricating stories and lying to cover up the details (previously here and here), as well as burning a few bridges in his attempt to explain his actions. A movie was made about this, and he wrote a book. Since Glass’s fall, he has gone to law school and has been practicing as a paralegal at a Los Angeles law firm with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. He has passed the bar exams in New York and California. However, there is a required ethics review in both states before one is allowed to practice. He was already denied (informally) a license in New York, and a final decision in California was appealed to the California Supreme court, who ruled last month conclusively that Glass would not be allowed to practice law in California. Here is the 33-page ruling.

The ruling “raises questions about his motives and sincerity despite the appearance of character witnesses who testified in his favor. The court said Mr. Glass had not been forthright in a previous application to the New York bar and had not acknowledged his shortcomings in that effort (he was informally notified in advance that his New York application would be rejected). Many of his efforts at rehabilitating himself, the court wrote, ‘seem to have been directed primarily at advancing his own well-being rather than returning something to the community.’”

Not everyone agrees with the decision, including some that you might not expect.

Here are a few bonus interviews with Glass over the years.
posted by SpacemanStix (68 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
This kind of thing is why the character & fitness part of the bar examination should be (optionally) conducted before one enters law school. Then, prior to taking the bar, it should be updated to make sure applicants didn't do anything improper in the intervening three years. That way, applicants who might have issues (e.g. an arrest record, an honor code infraction) can find out whether or not they will be able to practice law before spending three years getting an otherwise-useless degree (or worse, racking up $150,000+ in non-dischargeable debt).
posted by jedicus at 1:59 PM on March 5 [33 favorites]


Yeah, I'm having trouble really raising any sympathy. That's the trouble with being a systematic, methodical liar...it colors everything you ever do, for the rest of your life.

Maybe he should go work a trade. It's good for the soul.
posted by nevercalm at 1:59 PM on March 5 [17 favorites]


I can see where he might have gotten the idea that being a pathological liar might help him be a better lawyer, but still. Did nobody tell him this was a terrible plan or did he just never listen?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:01 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


He should move to the Bay Area and start a company called Jukd Micronics because that would be hilarious.
posted by hellojed at 2:01 PM on March 5 [25 favorites]


somebody really needs to do something about this actions-having-consequences stuff, because it really stands in the way of ambition.
posted by philip-random at 2:05 PM on March 5 [15 favorites]


I always thought his decision to go to law school - and that he was accepted and then not kicked out of said law school - was ludicrous. Glass should have known this from the beginning. I wonder if he ever got in writing from an admissions counsellor that he could eventually qualify for the bar.
posted by parmanparman at 2:07 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I always thought his decision to go to law school - and that he was accepted and then not kicked out of said law school - was ludicrous.

My recollection is that he was in law school before the fictitious stories were revealed.
posted by dsfan at 2:10 PM on March 5


Plagiarism and falsification are poisons in many careers. These ethical failings corrode the structure of their disciplines. I'm in the academic world, and I wish plagiarism and related dishonesties were punished more harshly than they are. Glass showed himself unfit for many jobs; perhaps he should focus on careers where his clients don't have to trust him to any significant degree.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:11 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I always thought his decision to go to law school - and that he was accepted and then not kicked out of said law school - was ludicrous. Glass should have known this from the beginning. I wonder if he ever got in writing from an admissions counsellor that he could eventually qualify for the bar.

It sounds as if the bar does have a path of redemption of sorts that allows you to show that you have changed and given back to the community, and that they simply didn't think that Glass had met the burden of this process. I think Glass probably went forward thinking, or hoping, that he could do it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:12 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


He went to Georgetown Law. Kaavya Viswanathan also went to G-town law after plagiarizing (and denying that she did but it's obvious she did) a YA novel she got enormous media coverage and money for while an undergrad at Harvard. I think she passed the bar and works in New York as an attorney.

(Disclaimer: I kind of root for Kaavya because I read that the weekend of her graduation from Georgetown, her parents died in a plane crash and she was their only child. I feel awful for her.)
posted by discopolo at 2:12 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Also… I mean. I'm really troubled by the implication of the theory behind this. Is this to say that all psychopaths should be disbarred?

I assume you're automatically disbarred if you commit a crime.

He may have been a lying shit bag, but I fail to see why he'd make a poor *lawyer*. Seems like he'd make an incredible lawyer, esp. given all the character references he's since obtained.

Not surprising in the end that the legal system would prefer punishment over any notion of rehabilitation, tho.
posted by pmv at 2:15 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


Did nobody tell him this was a terrible plan or did he just never listen?

He probably just told people he wasn't a pathological liar.
posted by aubilenon at 2:16 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


"There are no second acts in American lives." - Stephen Glass
posted by en forme de poire at 2:21 PM on March 5 [11 favorites]


While it is hard to actively sympathize with this guy, I find myself mostly agreeing with the David Plotz essay (last link in the FPP) - there is overwhelming evidence that he's rehabilitated since his old mendacious ways, which, furthermore, were about 20 years ago now. Everybody in his firm thinks his current behavior is "exemplary," apparently to the point where they're willing to sign sworn declarations to this effect - on what basis does the court reject all this, exactly? I heard about this when it came out, and I especially do not like the concept that he needs to "return more to the community" in order to be properly rehabilitated - why can't it be enough to acknowledge your previous mistakes and change your ways? We're only talking about being admitted to the bar here - no one has to actually hire him if they don't trust him.

While Glass's history is pretty egregious, I actually don't think much of the character and fitness investigation overall, conceptually. For every Steven Glass, there are hundreds of people who interrogated, or at least made to feel extremely anxious, about drug use, underage drinking, even psychiatric treatment - these C&F forms are very long, detailed, and invasive; they ask about many areas that other employers would be forbidden from touching. The theory is that, since lawyers are responsible for arguing and at times even determining what the law is, they must be especially meticulous about following said law in order to be trustworthy in performing that task. But I don't think there's much evidence that nosing around in people's pasts really has a lot of value towards this end. Clients are overbilled every day; client funds are drained every day, all by people who have passed the C&F review.

If what lawyers do is truly imbued with such an important public purpose, then there should be more active day-to-day regulation and examination of the lawyers' actual on the job performance, rather than trying to filter them at the gate and then letting them self-police.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:25 PM on March 5 [17 favorites]


pmv, I'm not a lawyer but no, you don't get automatically disbarred for committing any crime. You might get censured or have your license suspended, but afaik disbarrable offenses have to be those which reflect on your ability to serve clients' best interests and your public impact on the reputation of the legal profession. Being a pathological narcissist is not compatible with the attorney-client relationship, as much as the lawyer jokes might imply to the contrary.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:25 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Here's a response to the ruling by Adam Penenberg, the journalist who initially caught Glass in his shenanigans. I forgot to include it in the post above.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:31 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


Oh, also. It is interesting that he is working as a paralegal now, and conceptually could continue to do this indefinitely even after being rejected from the bar. Paralegals are an interesting middle-ground between secretaries and lawyers; their educational background varies a lot, from high school grads to humanities MAs, and you basically just have to take a short paralegal training course to be "qualified." And I put qualified in quotes because the actual job roles that paralegals have also vary a lot - from barely-more-than-secretaries to quasi-attorneys who draft legal documents that are filed or sent to the client with perhaps a few moments of attorney review.

All of which is totally legitimate, by the way. But if he is on the more active, quasi-associate end of the spectrum, he already has access to a great deal of client confidential information, documents, passwords, etc., and so if he is really still a fraudulent liar, he could do just about as much harm in that position as he could being a barred attorney. And the bar can't do a damn thing about it, except I guess penalize his boss if he does do something like that (which could well happen to his partners anyway if he were an associate committing all sorts of fraud or whatever). So it is not exactly clear that any client interest is actually being protected here - and I again find myself agreeing with Plotz that this is really more about the profession turning up its nose at him and saying "no way he's one of us."
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:35 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Maybe he should go work a trade. It's good for the soul.

"Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too." - Judge Smails.
posted by The Bellman at 2:35 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I really only know him from the movie, which manages the near-impossible balancing act of making him both sympathetic and toxically untrustworthy. Maybe it's just because I'm going through the NYS ethics stuff as well, hoping to be barred this year, but getting refused on account of something that I did 20 years ago (and I thankfully have a clean record, but I still panic) is the stuff that keeps me up at night.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:37 PM on March 5


I kind of root for Kaavya because I read that the weekend of her graduation from Georgetown, her parents died in a plane crash

I mean, so SHE says. Has that been independently verified?

Sorry
posted by nevercalm at 2:40 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


as an inactive member of the california bar, i concur with the decision of the court.
posted by bruce at 2:44 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Everybody in his firm thinks his current behavior is "exemplary," apparently to the point where they're willing to sign sworn declarations to this effect - on what basis does the court reject all this, exactly?

Read the decision. It's right there in the FPP. And although Plotz references bits so he has clearly skimmed it, I find it difficult to believe he read its entirety. His summary of the court's reasoning seems...disingenuous, at best.

Law students frequently worry about character and fitness examination. In every jurisdiction I'm familiar with, the answer is pretty simple. The committee is concerned with your fitness to practice law. Most frequently, this means honesty. A five-year-old conviction for vandalism will probably not be a problem, so long as it's disclosed. A ten-year-old conviction for fraud absolutely has the potential to be problematic, because it implicates your honesty.

In the latter circumstance, you must show rehabilitation. This doesn't just mean, "I have done good things since." It's awesome that Glass got good reviews from his supervisors. That is absolutely part of the overall calculus, but it has no relevance to whether he has rehabilitated his previous transgressions. You must be able to stand before the committee—or in this case, the court—and say, "I came totally clean, I made things as right as I possibly could, and my subsequent behavior has shown that no inconsistency with that."

The court's decision pretty clearly lays out how Glass couldn't make that showing.

If what lawyers do is truly imbued with such an important public purpose, then there should be more active day-to-day regulation and examination of the lawyers' actual on the job performance, rather than trying to filter them at the gate and then letting them self-police.

Just hypothetically, who or what would be at the top of that stepladder? (Turtles?)
posted by cribcage at 2:46 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


Maybe he should go work a trade. It's good for the soul.

Assumes facts not in evidence.
posted by josher71 at 2:49 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but you can say just about anything on the roof of a house and everyone else will just ignore it.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:50 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Aren't contractors popularly known as notoriously shiftless and dishonest?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:53 PM on March 5


If you want to show good character, being false in your application is probably not helpful.

Read this a while back and it gave me hope- sometimes kissing up and kicking down doesn't pay.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:55 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Lulz aside, I do think the bar review [PDF] is particularly damning as to the nature of his fabrications and his subsequent failures to sufficiently come clean. Joey Buttafoucault makes a good point that he's basically already working in the legal profession, but if that's really true, is it actually inappropriate for him to be working as a paralegal for the rest of his life? It's not like they're sentencing him to bang rocks together, and I assume he makes decent money as a trusted and capable paralegal with a law degree; maybe it's appropriate for him to work under supervision for a very long time. I don't know.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:55 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


"This led to my one brief moment of celebrity when I was portrayed by Steve Zahn"

What a great line.
posted by stinkfoot at 2:58 PM on March 5


two people were walking through a graveyard when one of them stopped in surprise, pointed to a gravestone and said "look at that!"

the gravestone was inscribed "a lawyer and an honest man".

his friend said "so?"

"they buried two people in the same grave!"
posted by bruce at 3:04 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Glass applied to become a member of the New York bar in 2002, but withdrew his application after he was informally notified in 2004 that his moral character application would be rejected. In the New York bar application materials, he exaggerated his cooperation with the journals that had published his work and failed to supply a complete list of the fabricated articles that had injured others.

Glass passed the California bar examination in 2006 and filed an application for determination of moral character in 2007. It was not until the California State Bar moral character proceedings that Glass reviewed all of his articles, as well as the editorials The New Republic and other journals published to identify his fabrications, and ultimately identified fabrications that he previously had denied or failed to disclose. In the California proceedings, Glass was not forthright in acknowledging the defects in his New York bar application.
yeah this guy sounds pretty rehabilitated
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:13 PM on March 5 [14 favorites]


Keep reading. It gets worse.

Honestly, it's kind of mystifying how anybody could read that opinion and believe that Stephen Glass should be admitted to the bar. I'd be inclined to think Glass's defenders read something like Plotz's column and skipped the source material—which I guess is fine for Internet chitchat, but it's neither an informed opinion nor one I'd much respect.
posted by cribcage at 3:17 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


You can be a habitual and unreformed liar and still be, to anyone else's view, a good parent, a good sibling, a good friend, a good employee. The proof is in the pudding. You cannot be reformed if you are still being anything less than completely truthful. It is not proof of reform that you haven't actually gotten caught in a lie in the past ten minutes.

The unfortunate thing is that it does often require something on this caliber to actually get someone rejected for basically just being a fundamentally unethical person, whereas there are other people getting denied C&F for things like alcohol/drug problems or financial troubles that are just due to general bad luck and lack of social privilege. And a lot of those people don't have the friends, resources, and fame to be able to keep trying, or at least to make a survivable living in the meantime.
posted by Sequence at 3:23 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I am generally in favor of rehabilitation, restorative justice, second chances, etc., and my first response to this ruling was that it seemed pretty unfair and vindictive. But actually reading the ruling is changing my mind pretty thoroughly.
posted by overglow at 3:29 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I'm not a fan of Glass specifically because he and Jason Blair created a shit-storm in the 90's and early 2000's that helped create a climate where journalists were mistrusted and republicans could point a finger and say "See! We told you they Lie!" They did this during a time when we needed journalism desperately as a public good.

With that said, our system of justice is predicated on the idea that you do your time and then you get on with your life. I agree with Plotz, let Glass get on with his life and be a lawyer. Stop with the petty bull shit.
posted by photoslob at 3:33 PM on March 5


I think he's trying to set a world record for wasting people's time.
posted by mullacc at 3:40 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


let Glass get on with his life

That's just it. It seems like Glass himself has injured his own cause by continually misrepresenting his past and pleading ignorance. "I thought my lawyer would contact them and apologize..." Uh huh.

If Glass wanted to "get on with his life" he could have made complete restitution by paying back the legal fees that his employer incurred, making sure that his current resume and CV was as scrupulously clean as possible, coming clean about the full extent of the articles he fabricated, all that.

But he didn't. Repeatedly. He lets the lies stand. In doing so, he CAN'T get on with his life. That's entirely his own fault.
posted by Madamina at 3:42 PM on March 5 [11 favorites]


This isn't petty bullshit. To put it in perspective, even the bar admission candidates with the least objectionable records are typically pulling their hair out trying to make sure they've included every last detail of every minor traffic violation over the course of their lives. Failing to disclose all the details of something that's actually reflective of moral turpitude? That is a big problem.
posted by asperity at 3:43 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


With that said, our system of justice is predicated on the idea that you do your time and then you get on with your life.

You misunderstand. This isn't a conversation about the criminal justice system. In that context, rehabilitation is essentially restoration of your right to live freely as a citizen. You are no longer incarcerated, no longer bound to pay regular visits to the courthouse. You are returned to the same status (mostly) as your fellow citizens who didn't commit crimes. This is a conversation about something different. Stephen Glass is free to get on with his life, as indeed he has. It seems he's living rather well. Now he is asking for a special privilege to be granted to him, the right to represent clients, and upon examination a court has laid out a rather compelling argument why he doesn't deserve it.

As for Plotz...I feel like there's this culture on MetaFilter where if you've read one of the links, then you are presumed to understand the facts of the story. Not so much, folks. In fact, I'd be happy to have a separate conversation about this FPP: read the court's opinion, then read Plotz's column, and see if you think Plotz's treatment was honest and fair.
posted by cribcage at 3:54 PM on March 5 [13 favorites]


There's another, practical issue to consider as well.

Imagine you're in need of a lawyer. Would you want someone who is very well known as a highly skilled liar to represent you? All the character witnesses in the world wouldn't weight very much against the tiny, persistent doubt in the minds of judges and jurors: is Stephen Glass telling the truth?

As opposing counsel, it would be so, so easy to subtly remind people of this.

Even if Glass is totally reformed, his capacity to function as a lawyer seems likely to be--at least somewhat and possibly greatly--harmed by his past.
posted by overglow at 3:55 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


I assume you're automatically disbarred if you commit a crime.

It depends on the state. In New York a felony is an automatic disbarment. In Missouri it isn't*, but weirdly a felony is an automatic bar to becoming a lawyer in the first place (for five years after the sentence is completed). Missouri is actually easier on lawyer-felons than law student-felons, which is exactly backwards to me, but I didn't make the rules.

* Though as a practical matter I'd be surprised if many convicted felon attorneys managed to avoid disbarment.
posted by jedicus at 4:09 PM on March 5


In fact, I'd be happy to have a separate conversation about this FPP: read the court's opinion, then read Plotz's column, and see if you think Plotz's treatment was honest and fair.

I'm gonna go with a strong "hell, no". The time for showing you've reformed is not after you file your bar application.
posted by asperity at 4:09 PM on March 5


The C&F process, along with continuing education requirements are expensive frauds on the public that increase costs while adding no value. The same is true of both attorney and judicial disciplinary offices. Virtually all show, virtually no go. No system is perfectly corrupted but these do come close.
posted by SteveLaudig at 4:14 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Completely agree with the criticisms of "ethical theater" in this thread.

In an undergraduate business law class I had a prof who fully admitted (to a room full of students no less) that he he went to law school because he knew that in business he was going to push the envelope ethically and wanted to know what was *really going to get him in trouble. At the time I appreciated his candor because I felt I needed to dispel an idealistic nature.

This prof told us a story of student who was a serial plagiarist who was eventually expelled. After a few years away the student appealed (citing "character growth" due to "real world experience") and was granted readmission. The student proceeded to submit the same plagiarized assignment that prompted his original expulsion. Prof said that ethics aside, "some people are just too stupid to have a [credential]." After reading the ruling I kind of feel this way about Glass.
posted by sockpup at 4:17 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


This is the paragraph from Penenberg's post that gobsmacked me:

The article reported that such deals, which seemed little more than Web-based protection rackets, had stymied prosecutors, and law enforcement officials in Nevada were so desperate to stop companies from hiring hackers they had sponsored a series of public service announcements on radio: “Would you hire a shoplifter to watch the cash register? Please don’t deal with hackers.” More than 20 state legislatures were considering the Uniform Computer Security Act, which would criminalize these types of immunity deals, imposing stiff penalties on the companies. Glass went on to quote: Julie Farthwork of the Computer Security Center; Jim Ghort, director of the Center for Interstate Online Investigations (a joint police project of 18 states); and Frank Juliet, president of the National Assembly of Hackers (a lobbying group).

Nothing and no one in that paragraph ever existed. Not the PSA, not the proposed legislation, not the organizations nor their representatives*. I knew about Jukt Micronics and Ian Restil** but I'd assumed that there was some reality-based framework, however flimsy, supporting the story. That's Liar Rule #1.

Nope. Glass make up everything except for the existence of hacking and the states of California and Nevada. And once you read "Hacker Heaven" now, even discounting for hindsight -- it's just so unlikely. The whole thing, in all its details. Yet it was published in a legit national magazine and got enormous buzz***.

Consider the absolute impossibility of getting away with that now.



*Maybe it's just me but don't their names seem very strange, reading them one after another?
**Which is, as Penenberg reports, an acronym for "TNR lies"
***1998-speak for "going viral."
posted by dogrose at 4:37 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


From the ruling (p.19):

Martin Peretz, who owned and managed The New Republic at the time of the fabrications, testified on Glass‟s behalf and had developed a charitable view of his misconduct by the time of the California State Bar hearing. He blamed himself and, even more, the magazine‟s editors for encouraging Glass to write zany, shocking articles and for failing to recognize the improbability of some of Glass‟s stories. He found the harm of the scandal to the magazine to be minimal. He had
renewed social contact with Glass in the past few years and believed that Glass had been harshly treated.

He would not rule out hiring Glass again as a journalist. He explained that in his experience as a professor “[t]he most brilliant students plagiarize,” complaining to the Committee‟s counsel, “I actually find your pursuing him an act of stalking.”


So much for all those non-brilliant journalism students who reported honestly and factually....
posted by 1367 at 5:05 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Honestly, it's kind of mystifying how anybody could read that opinion and believe that Stephen Glass should be admitted to the bar. I'd be inclined to think Glass's defenders read something like Plotz's column and skipped the source material—which I guess is fine for Internet chitchat, but it's neither an informed opinion nor one I'd much respect.

That was a pretty amazing opinion, actually, and confirms in my mind that the decision was a good one. It was thorough and fair, and excoriatingly painful in parts, because it spoke truth where it was needed. I actually now have a higher regard for the ideals of the legal profession after reading it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:07 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


1367, I'm glad someone else noticed that. That seemed to me like a totally bizarre thing to say, and ironically one that probably undermined any good from that character reference.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:27 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I'm defending this prick but here goes. The first 10 pages of the ruling are rehash of Glass' fabrications. On the 9th or 10th page it describes how Glass brought to light an additional 4 stories of his that had fabrications that were originally overlooked. The CA bar seems to be incredulous that Glass brought up the four stories instead of giving him credit for bring them to light. Seems like he could have just kept his mouth shut. Also from the ruling:

"DARE sued Glass for libel and settled after Glass agreed the challenged information was fabricated, issued a retraction, and paid the organization‟s legal expenses of between $25,000 and $50,000."

Glass did pay back legal fees. Did he pay everyone who's ever had to deal with his misdeeds fees? I don't know but the fact the guy may have paid as much as $50k for legal fees says something.

The report states that he did not personally aid the magazines that published his work at the time it was discovered he had fabricated most of the stories he wrote because he was suicidal. No kidding? Unless you'd be happier he was dead it was probably for the best that he stepped back and took care of his issues. Furthermore, does it even matter twenty years later how many stories he actually fabricated? I work in journalism and if a reporter fabricates one story it's assumed they fabricated them all. He did hire counsel who was instructed to work with TNR to help uncover the fabrications.

More from the ruling:

"The State Bar Court Review Department ... acknowledged that Glass‟s misconduct had been “appalling” and “egregious,” but believed that Glass had satisfied his “heavy burden of proof” and established his rehabilitation. The majority stated that Glass‟s burden of proof as a first-time applicant was “substantially less rigorous” than it would have been for an attorney seeking reinstatement after disbarment. The majority declined to believe restitution was required of Glass. “We consider his present character in light of his previous moral shortcomings [citation], and we are at a loss to understand how monetary restitution would mitigate the reputational harm that Glass had caused.” The majority found more significant evidence that he has made amends both to the journalistic community in his public admissions concerning his fabrications and to his victims in the letters he sent them."

22 pages in and if I didn't know the outcome I'd say they were going to admit him! And then there's one paragraph outlining the dissenting opinion that basically says that over 10 years ago Glass failed to bring to light every single thing he ever wrote that was fabricated. It was well established more than 10 years ago that Glass was a liar. The CA bar wishes he had brought 4 more fabricated stories to light? HE'S A LIAR! WHAT WOULD 4 MORE STORIES PROVE?

The next several pages go into detail about Glass' perceived motivations for everything from not disclosing the 4 articles to his cashing in on the Fabulist. The CA bar even questions his offer to pay back Peretz. The last several pages are so petty and cynical that whoever wrote it should be embarrassed.

I still think Glass should have to take a weekly punch in the nose for what he did to the reputation of every journalist I know but when is it enough? Just how much flesh do you want? Is it really OK to not forgive someone for lying 20 years ago? Would it have been better if he had just killed himself or would you be happier if he were digging ditches somewhere? Admit him or don't admit him - it doesn't change a thing for me but I do think it's hypocritical that lots of people talk about giving others second chances but then seem to be gleeful when someone like Glass doesn't get one. I still think Glass is a shit but if I don't believe he deserves a second chance then who does?
posted by photoslob at 5:41 PM on March 5


Just a slight derail to highly recommend everyone see Shattered Glass if you haven't already. It's a really good film. You'd never guess that a story about wonky journalists (and a fake journalist) would have so much gritty tension and genuine suspense. And Hayden Christensen can act!
posted by zardoz at 5:53 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I still think Glass should have to take a weekly punch in the nose for what he did to the reputation of every journalist I know but when is it enough? Just how much flesh do you want? Is it really OK to not forgive someone for lying 20 years ago? Would it have been better if he had just killed himself or would you be happier if he were digging ditches somewhere? Admit him or don't admit him - it doesn't change a thing for me but I do think it's hypocritical that lots of people talk about giving others second chances but then seem to be gleeful when someone like Glass doesn't get one. I still think Glass is a shit but if I don't believe he deserves a second chance then who does?

Actually, I thought the very last paragraph addressed this in a pretty eye-opening way. It's not at all about Glass's personal rehabilitation as an end in itself, and this is where everyone seems to be camping out. "Think of poor Stephen." By making the question about what Glass deserves more than the protection of the profession, it shows that there is a lack of awareness of what is really at stake. By virtue of this emphasis, the burden was not carried by his defenders that harm would not be done, and evidence within the proceeding itself seemed to point to the contrary. There is a higher burden of the court to protect than to provide for Glass's desired livelihood. At least, that's how I interpreted it, and if correct, that does seem to be a pretty important point.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:57 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Consider the absolute impossibility of getting away with that now.

That's the distinction. I was one of Penenberg's sources for this story (I wrote about this in a comment on the last Glass post in the blue), and I remember searching to verify some of those other facts. This was an eon ago. HotBot was the new hotness, and of course it was awful. Google wasn't a thing yet. The fact that something couldn't be found in a search engine indicated absolutely nothing about whether it existed. Now if a search for "Center for Interstate Online Investigations" turned up zero results, a fact checker would immediately be deeply troubled.

Ironically—or, really, appropriately—I went on to work as a fact-checker at a magazine, and wound up catching Wired editor Chris Anderson plagiarizing Wikipedia, using precisely the sort of search technology that would have made the same discovery impossible in 1998. I suppose my tiny involvement in the Glass thing had an effect on me, now that I think about it.
posted by waldo at 6:06 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


The student proceeded to submit the same plagiarized assignment that prompted his original expulsion.

Coincidentally, yesterday I was talking to a friend about Jonah Lehrer, and went to wikipedia to check up on a few facts. I was gobsmacked to see that Lehrer appears to have learned nothing, and is still up to his old tricks:

Reemergence

"On February 12, 2013, Lehrer publicly apologized for his plagiarism and fabrications in a speech before the Knight Foundation. In the speech, Lehrer announced plans to continue writing and spoke of potential safeguards to prevent similar lapses in judgment and accuracy from happening again. Some criticized the speech, arguing that Lehrer did not express sufficient regret. In Slate.com, Daniel Engber wrote that the speech “was couched in elaborate and perplexing disavowals”; Joseph Nocera of The New York Times said that "As apologies go, it was both arrogant and pathetic." [46] [47] Others were upset that the foundation paid Lehrer a $20,000 fee.[48][49] Shortly after the speech, the foundation issued a statement in which it acknowledged that Lehrer's speaking fee was "not something [the] Knight Foundation, given [their] values, should have paid."[50]"

"On June 6, 2013, Simon & Schuster announced that it will publish a book by Lehrer with the working title "The Book of Love." No publication date has been set.[51] In Slate.com, Daniel Engber suggested that Lehrer might have plagiarized portions of his book proposal from the work of his former New Yorker colleague Adam Gopnik. [52]"[emph. mine VS]

I'm as willing to believe in rehabilitation as the next guy, but it seems that for certain kinds of character flaws, it's very, very hard to overcome. There is some kind of compulsion here, that is at a deeper psychological level, and I'm not entirely sure applying everyday contexts of "regretting mistakes" is appropriate in these circumstances. Would you ever, ever trust a Stephen Glass or a Jonah Lehrer, when these guys seem to keep making the same violations so consistently after such traumatic exposure and censure?
posted by VikingSword at 6:06 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Did he pay everyone who's ever had to deal with his misdeeds fees? I don't know...

The opinion addresses this. He didn't.

The CA bar wishes he had brought 4 more fabricated stories to light? HE'S A LIAR! WHAT WOULD 4 MORE STORIES PROVE?

No offense, but you appear not to understand the fundamental concept of honesty that's at issue here. Let's remove Stephen Glass for a moment, since there may be baggage attached. Consider an analogy. It's not perfect but might suffice.

Twenty years ago, John had a drug habit. To fuel his habit, John mugged seven people in two months. He was arrested shortly after the seventh. Four other victims came forward, and John was charged with five counts of robbery. He apologized and pleaded guilty to all five counts. Today, John is a law-abiding person. He coaches Little League and tithes his church. He is a "good guy."

You might look at John and see a repentant mugger. That's valid, in its way. However, it is equally valid to look at John and see a person who repents five crimes and is thankful he got away with two others.

If John is your next-door neighbor, this may not be a problem for you. It's honest enough. However, I assure you it's a problem for John as a prospective attorney. Our society does not require of attorneys the standard, everyday, just-get-on-with-your-life level of honesty. We require more. The reason is that attorneys are fiduciaries. It is not, as someone else suggested, because attorneys are charged with "making the law." It's because attorneys deal in trust. It's the whole job.

I do think it's hypocritical that lots of people talk about giving others second chances but then seem to be gleeful when someone like Glass doesn't get one.

By what measure would you see a "second chance"? Glass is not homeless and destitute. He appears to be doing very well. What he's being denied is a first chance (not a second) to represent clients as an attorney, because his continued behavior has demonstrated failure of honesty. For the record, the court isn't even telling him never. They are saying that presently, they are unimpressed with his limited attempts to rehabilitate some-but-not-all of his transgressions. He has options. He could decide to truly wipe his slate clean, make all amends, and reapply later. He could also keep shopping around for a venue willing to lower its standards to admit him. We'll see.
posted by cribcage at 7:21 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Is everyone kidding? Making up shit for news stories means you are disqualified to be a lawyer?
posted by telstar at 7:41 PM on March 5


Is everyone kidding? Making up shit for news stories means you are disqualified to be a lawyer?

That isn't, strictly speaking, what disqualified him.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:12 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]



He went to Georgetown Law. Kaavya Viswanathan also went to G-town law after plagiarizing (and denying that she did but it's obvious she did) a YA novel she got enormous media coverage and money for while an undergrad at Harvard. I think she passed the bar and works in New York as an attorney.

...and Suzanne Pomey helped embezzle $100,000 from the Hasty Pudding Club at Harvard, graduated from Wake Forest law school, and appears to be a practicing attorney in Georgia right now. So maybe he can be forgiven for imagining he'd squeak his way into state bar approval somewhere. Maybe he just wasn't Harvard enough. [Insert obnoxious UPenn joke here if you are Harvard enough.]
posted by blue suede stockings at 8:23 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


If you want to be forgiven for it, you have to 'fess up to it in the first place. All of it.

Maybe he thought referencing his biopic in the application was good enough?
posted by asperity at 8:31 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, I was wondering what happened to Suzanne Pomey.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:55 PM on March 5


I find this ironic, given that the California Legislature Congress is filled with attorneys who regularly game the system, pervert the truth, the abuse the law.

This guy did a bad thing; he went through psychotherapy; he went through a shitload of contrition and has tried to rehabilitate himself. I would rather have him representing me that some gasbag attorney that made it to the legislature.

Last, When it comes to the State Bar in any State, it is incredibly difficult to get someone disbarred - in spite of the fact that there are so many sociopaths in the profession. Frankly, this decision weighs much more negatively on the California Courts than Steven Glass. Good luck, Mr. Glass. It appears that your would-be peers don't believe in restitution, and apparently have kept you from the practice of law to cover their butts. There are probably thousands of attorneys in this State that should be disbarred, who are far more dishonest than you ever were. Again, good luck!
posted by Vibrissae at 10:22 PM on March 5


Link to a screen cap of the fake Jukt Micronics web page Glass put together.
posted by flug at 11:30 PM on March 5


In the 2009 MeFi thread on Glass, Asparagirl, a former Daily Pennsylvanian Editorial Board member, comments to say that Steve Glass used to write for the Daily Pennsylvanian and asks whether or not some of his DP sources might be fabricated as well. She particularly mentions an editorial about homeless people as raising questions. She mentions that Glass's DP articles, which would date from the early to mid 1990s, were not online any more at that time.

Well interestingly enough, it looks like Glass's Daily Pennsylvanian articles are back online now: Whether or not any problems can be proven with these stories, we'll have to leave to the MeFi posse.

But certainly they do seem full of the trademark colorful-yet-perhaps-just-a-bit-too-good-to-be-true anecdote and quotations that Glass seems to trade in.
posted by flug at 12:10 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Just for example, here is some of the heart of Glass's "A Day in the Streets," June 1991:
“I see Donna once in a while,” Johnnie says. “She’s whoring downtown.” Johnnie remembers one night when Donna tried to stop him from going to a bar because she was afraid something bad would happen. That night, Johnnie stabbed and killed a man he knew because the man uttered the threatening phrase, “I just don’t like you, Johnnie.”
I mean, it would be a bit more believable if it didn't just go on and on for paragraph after paragraph like this, filled with details about what homeless life would be like, if (for example) everything you knew about the subject came from watching 60s TV shows or something.
The trio is soon joined by Tyronne, and as the wine dulls their senses, the conversation quickly turns to sex. Tyronne brags, as his pronounced beer belly wobbles, that his work went well the night before — Tyronne is a gigolo. June explains that Tyronne is actually a “gigolo-want-to-be,” and that none of his “customers” actually pay him. Tyronne retorts that June is “just being negative” and is always looking for the disappointments in life.
Etc. etc.

I don't know if it would be possible to prove at this late date whether or not these details were fabricated or not. But certainly it fits rather precisely into Glass's now well-known pattern for inventing sensational but hard-to-disprove stories, sources, and details.
posted by flug at 12:21 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Just by way of comparison, take a look at this profile of a homeless man from a different student newspaper. It's just so much more . . . believable than the ultra-sensationalized story Glass put together on the same topic.
posted by flug at 12:32 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Maybe he should go work a trade. It's good for the soul.

He should do what I did, and get into farming.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:25 AM on March 6


So here's what I'm finding difficult to understand.

We have a guy who built his career off lying to the public, in a job which generally speaking has the trust of the public. He broke that trust.

When caught, he didn't cop to everything he did.

When applying to pass two state bar exams, he continued to be less-than-forthright about his credentials.

And people are... upset? That he is not considered to have a character deserving another jub which requires the trust of the public?

Buh?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:35 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Here's a bit of investigation into Glass's Daily Pennsylvanian period and stories--an article by Samuel Hughes in the Pennsylvania Gazette:
Johnnie is the leader of his 'posse,' a club of several dozen homeless people that has its own intricate rules and traditions. All members of the club identify their allegiance by donning an American Heart Association button and a Zenith Data Systems painters' cap ... Club members enjoy citing their hero, Kenny Rogers, as best expressing the philosophy of surviving on the streets. Twice that day June and Johnnie sang "The Gambler" in chorus ...
-- From "A Day on the Streets," by Stephen Glass, in the June 6, 1991, Summer Pennsylvanian.

Since no one has proven otherwise, it's always possible that this story is completely accurate, right down to the first-person descriptions of homeless people smoking crack and picking up prostitutes and talking about murders they committed. There's no question that there really was a West Philadelphia homeless man named Johnnie who used to hassle Glass for money -- "like Steve owed him," recalls Matt Selman, C'93 -- and whose photo accompanied the story. And Glass's roommate that year, Joon Chong, C'94, remembers him being away from the room for a day or two while he was working on the article. But the notion of a homeless "club" with matching buttons and caps seems prima facie absurd. Kenny Rogers seems a rather unlikely hero for African-American homeless men. And the very idea of the neurotic, khaki-clad Glass hanging out in a West Philly crackhouse struck some of his colleagues as preposterous -- though at the time, they kept their mouths shut. After all, says one, he was a person that "strange things happened to."

Later, Gabe Marcotti, who had done some work in outreach programs and once scored some crack for a story himself, talked with Glass about his "day on the streets." A number of things about it simply did not ring true. "It struck me as really, really unlikely," he says. "He was the most white-bread, preppy person you can imagine."

But while Marcotti didn't really believe Glass's story, he admits that he wanted to. "You sort of got the sense when you spoke to him that everything he told you, you wanted to believe him. When I heard the news about what happened to him, just talking to friends, a lot of us came to the conclusion that he had so many other things going for him, and so many people looked up to him, that you always wanted to believe him -- and were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt."
This section of the article has pretty close to smoking gun proof of Glass fabricating quotes from university officials from whole cloth.
posted by flug at 7:20 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Perhaps when he wrote those DP pieces he thought he was being "gonzo."
posted by wenestvedt at 7:41 AM on March 6


see Shattered Glass if you haven't already. It's a really good film. You'd never guess that a story about wonky journalists (and a fake journalist) would have so much gritty tension and genuine suspense. And Hayden Christensen can act!

Plus: Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck Lane! He is fantastic in the role... a sympathetic, supportive editor that you do NOT want to be caught lying to. It's worth seeing the movie just to watch his portrayal of Lane's disbelief, and then dawning realization, of the extent of Glass's fabrications.
posted by torticat at 4:27 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


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