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Famous fabricator Stephen Glass tests our capacity for redemption

Former journalist Stephen Glass
Former journalist Stephen Glass
Hugo Espino via Flickr Creative Commons

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Former journalist Stephen Glass has lost an appeal before the California Supreme Court to practice law in California. Glass fabricated dozens of stories for the New Republic and other publications in 1998 before being discovered.

Glass has since studied law and taken the bar exam in New York and California. He was denied the right to practice law in New York for ethical and moral reasons, and the California court has reaffirmed the decision, siding with the State Bar.

Glass’s lawyers claim he has be rehabilitated, citing years of work as a paralegal, a steady relationship, and votes of confidence from his psychiatrists, employer, and even his former New Republic editor as proof that he has changed.

Can former liars be redeemed? In the world of business and legal ethics, has Glass crossed a line? What compels people to falsify information and cheat in their professional lives?


Scott Wiltermuth, Assistant Professor of Management and Organization, USC Marshall School of Business