Hanna Rosin attempts to square up with her former bestie, one of American journalism’s most notorious bullshitters.
Bonus: Longform.org has a confounding collection of essays on frauds in journalism.
“Hello, My Name Is Stephen Glass, and I’m Sorry”
By Hanna Rosin
The New Republic
November 10, 2014
He nearly destroyed this magazine. Sixteen years later, his former best friend finally confronts him.
The last time I talked to Stephen Glass, he was pleading with me on the phone to protect him from Charles Lane. Chuck, as we called him, was the editor of The New Republic and Steve was my colleague and very good friend, maybe something like a little brother, though we are only two years apart in age. Steve had a way of inspiring loyalty, not jealousy, in his fellow young writers, which was remarkable given how spectacularly successful he’d been in such a short time. While the rest of us were still scratching our way out of the intern pit, he was becoming a franchise, turning out bizarre and amazing stories week after week for The New Republic, Harper’s, and Rolling Stone—each one a home run.
I didn’t know when he called me that he’d made up nearly all of the bizarre and amazing stories, that he was the perpetrator of probably the most elaborate fraud in journalistic history, that he would soon become famous on a whole new scale. I didn’t even know he had a dark side. It was the spring of 1998 and he was still just my hapless friend Steve, who padded into my office ten times a day in white socks and was more interested in alphabetizing beer than drinking it. When he called, I was in New York and I said I would come back to D.C. right away. I probably said something about Chuck like: “Fuck him. He can’t fire you. He can’t possibly think you would do that.”
I was wrong, and Chuck, ever-resistant to Steve’s charms, was as right as he’d been in his life. Read more…