In the Footsteps of Glass

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 82, Autumn 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

According to the July/August 1998 issue of Columbia Journalism Review, the Stephen Glass saga may be the biggest hoax in modern journalism. Glass has been described as an unusually affable and likable but insecure person who needs constant affirmation. In 1994 he worked for Heritage Institute’s Policy Review, where he published six articles. He was a bright, prolific young reporter with an eye for detail and an ear for language. He has published in Harper’s, George, and Rolling Stone. In 1995 he joined The New Republic, where he published 41 lively pieces. One was “Monica Sells,” the titillating tale of a convention of political-novelty vendors. Another was “Spring breakdown,” about drugs and sex at the 1996 conservative Political Action Conference. Another described Glass’s visit to the “First Church of George Herbert Walker Bush Christ,” run by evangelicals who believe the former president is the reincarnation of Jesus.

Glass would often submit stories late so that staff checkers (those who check for accuracy) were pressed for time. When questioned about his facts, Glass would produce forged faxes on fake letterheads of phony organizations, fictitious notes, and even voice mail or live calls from people pretending to be sources.

After a belated investigation called Operation Broken Glass, the New Republic reported in June 1998 that 27 Glass articles were all or part fiction. Now that his career in journalism is ended, some say Glass would make a talented screenwriter; but he is attending law school instead.

If the following gimmick works, it would be a wise investment for the New Republic and everyone else: Fortress, a $30 lie-detector program, can be downloaded from to a computer to test recordings of human speech in any language. It beeps when it detects an effort to deceive. Does this work, or is it another scam? If it works, $30 is a great bargain.