The Madeleine Brand Show for November 21, 2011

Stephen Glass, known for faking news stories, now wants to be a Calif. lawyer

60 Minutes

Stephen Glass was interviewed by 60 minutes in 2003. He fabricated stories for the prestigious news magazine The New Republic.

The California Supreme Court announced it will decide whether Stephen Glass, the former journalist whose career fell apart after it was revealed he’d fabricated stories, should be accepted into the State Bar.

Stephen Glass came to fame in the late 1990s when he was caught lying about sources, events and quotations in his news articles at The New Republic.

Charles Lane was Glass' editor at the Republic and helped to uncover the reporter's lies. He said Glass hadn't just written fake news stories but created an entirely fake persona to enable his false reporting and that he used his personal relationships with colleagues to purposely deceive them.

"His whole life was a lie," Lane said.

Once Glass was caught, he was fired from the magazine and later earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. The New York State Bar previously blocked his attempt to practice law there. Now, he's trying his luck in California.

The California Supreme Court will review a decision by the Review Department of the State Bar Court. That court found Glass eligible to practice law in California.

Lane joked that people have always wondered which profession has lower ethical standards - law or journalism - and the Supreme Court is set to determine the answer when they hear Glass' case. The court is basically in a position to figure out when Glass, a person who used to do nothing but lie, stopped lying, Lane said.

"My reaction was, 'I can't believe after 13 years this is all still going on,'" Lane said. "It's an incredible saga."

There has been a long list of character witnesses who've come forward on Glass' behalf and testified that he's a changed man who is now honest and straightforward, including two law professors and the owner of The New Republic.

Lane said that Glass' whole way of life was false, and to really be an honest person he would have had to completely reconstruct himself.

He pointed out that Glass has never come completely clean about the total number of fabrications and lies he told at The New Republic and has minimized the extent of his deceptions in applying to the California Bar, a detail that was cited by a dissenting judge in the California State Bar case.

Glass currently works as a paralegal at a law firm in Los Angeles.

Guest:

Charles Lane was Stephen Glass' editor at The New Republic. He is now an editorial writer at The Washington Post. Lane graduated from Yale’s law school and frequently covers the Supreme Court.


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