Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Couldn't They See Through GLASS?

Stephen Glass’ stories were so good they seemed too-good-to-be-true. This raises the question of what The New Republic was doing for the three years that Glass was writing fabrications? How did he get past their fact checkers? For that matter how did it all slip under the radar of the entire journalism community?

Glass got by because he was careful and thorough. According to Glass’ interview with 60 Minutes he “knew how the system worked.” All of his fake notes and phony voicemail boxes work on TNR’s fact checkers. He even slipped under the nose of Slate Magazine reporter (and skeptic) Jack Shafer. In Glass Houses, Shafer wrote about how ridiculous it was that Glass could trick everyone when merely making a few phone calls or doing an internet search would expose him.

Ultimately, Glass' fabrications were revealed by Forbes Digital Tool, the fact checker. Forbes magazine informed Charles Lane of the discrepancies in Glass’ stories and informed him that they would go to press about it. Only after this happened did Lane issue a press release saying that TNR had fired Stephen Glass.

In the 60 Minutes piece, Lane said the responsibility lay with the magazine. He admitted that TNR failed to make sure that what was published was “good journalism.”

“The only thing I think you can say in defense of The New Republic was that we were up against somebody, at the time, who was really determined to deceive the magazine,” said Lane.

No comments: