Shattered Glass (2003)
Stephen Glass: [Outside the closed restaurant] I didn't do anything wrong, Chuck.
Chuck Lane: I really wish you'd stop saying that.
Caitlin Avey: [in the lobby of their office building] What the hell did you do to Steve? He called me from his car, hysterical. I asked him what was wrong, he said, "ask Chuck?"
Chuck Lane: [shouting] I fired him, okay? Not suspended, fired. Because this wasn't an isolated incident Caitlin. He cooked a dozen of them, maybe more. And we're going to have to go through them, you and I. We're going to have to go through all of them, now.
Caitlin Avey: No, the only one was Hack Heaven. He told me that himself.
Chuck Lane: If he were a stranger to you, if he was a guy you were doing a piece about, pretend that guy told you he'd only did it once. Would you take his word for it? Of course not! You'd dig and you'd bury him! And you'd feel offended if anyone told you not to.
Caitlin Avey: Every one of those pieces was fact-checked, they were all...
Chuck Lane: So was Hack Heaven!
Caitlin Avey: [pause]
Chuck Lane: You're a good reporter. You've always been such a smart and thorough reporter, why can't you be one now?
Caitlin Avey: Cause what you're telling me just is impossible, Chuck.
Chuck Lane: Go upstairs. Read 'em again.
Caitlin Avey: This is bullshit!
Chuck Lane: And make sure you go all the way back, because half of them ran when Mike was still here.
Caitlin Avey: That's what this is. Of course. I mean, what are you going to do, Chuck, pick us off, one by one? Everybody that was loyal to Mike, till you have a staff that belongs to you? Is that the kind of magazine you want to run?
Chuck Lane: Caitlin, when this thing blows, there isn't going to be a magazine anymore. If you want to make this about Mike, make it about Mike. I don't give a shit. You can resent me, you can hate me, but come Monday morning, we're all going to have to answer for what we let happen here. We're all going to have an apology to make! Jesus Christ! Don't you have any idea how much shit we're about to eat? Every competitor we ever took a shot at, they're going to pounce. And they should. Because we blew it, Caitlin. He handed us fiction after fiction and we printed them all as fact. Just because... we found him "entertaining." It's indefensible. Don't you know that?
Chuck Lane: [Chuck leaves]
Chuck Lane: [in Stephen's office after business hours] You had your brother pose as George Sims.
Stephen Glass: What?
Chuck Lane: The phony recording from Jukt Micronics? It's a Palo Alto number. And your brother is a student at Stanford. You had him pose as Sims.
Stephen Glass: No, Sims is a real guy...
Chuck Lane: Steve, Steve...
Stephen Glass: I've talked to him a million times, Chuck. My brother and I aren't even speaking right now.
Chuck Lane: Stop it. You faked Sims, you faked a website, you faked all those voicemails...
Stephen Glass: [speaking at the same time] You don't know. You don't know, Chuck.
Chuck Lane: Restil, Hiert, Ghort...
Stephen Glass: [speaking at the same time] You got this totally backward.
Chuck Lane: It's all crap. I can trace it if you make me. I'll find it all billed to you.
Stephen Glass: [in Stephen's office after business hours] I don't know what you're talking about, okay. Those are all real people.
Chuck Lane: They are?
Stephen Glass: Yeah.
Chuck Lane: Look at me... and say that again.
Stephen Glass: Those are all real people.
Stephen Glass: [sarcastically] If I were to throw a party where all we did was play "Monopoly," would you guys come?
Caitlin Avey: [jokingly] Could I be the little shoe?
Stephen Glass: Of course.
Chuck Lane: You're fired, Steve.
Stephen Glass: [startled] What?
Chuck Lane: You're fired, Steve. You've lost your job.
Stephen Glass: [pleading] But you can't do that.
Chuck Lane: [Outside the closed restaurant] It was ten people?
Stephen Glass: Yes.
Chuck Lane: For dinner?
Stephen Glass: Yes.
Chuck Lane: [Looking at the business hours sign] They're closed at 3:00 on Sundays.
Stephen Glass: Yeah, I know. I know, they almost didn't let us in. Okay? But it was a couple minutes before 3:00 and Ian looked like he was about ready to cry, and so they said okay.
Chuck Lane: But for dinner?
Stephen Glass: Go in and ask them yourself, Chuck. Okay? Go in and see if they would serve a party that came in at 2:58 and the answer would be yes, because that's when we got here.
Chuck Lane: The Forbes guys are going to have all this too...
Stephen Glass: [speaking at the same time] I didn't do anything wrong, Chuck.
Chuck Lane: ...and they're going to dig through the records of that office building. I'm sure they have surveillance cameras and they're going to check them.
Stephen Glass: I didn't do anything wrong, Chuck!
Chuck Lane: I really wish you'd stop saying that!
Chuck Lane: Steve... come on, anyone can make a mistake.
Stephen Glass: You know, this is not right, Chuck! Okay, I feel really attacked. And you're my editor. You're supposed to support me and you're taking their word against mine? You're supposed to support me!
[after debunking Stephen Glass's New Republic article, Hack Heaven]
Adam Penenberg: But there is one thing in this story that checks out.
Kambiz Foroohar: What's that?
Adam Penenberg: [sarcastically] There does appear to be a state in the union named Nevada.
Gloria: [referring to the discovery that Stephen fabricated his stories] You know what could've prevented all this, don't you?
Chuck Lane: No, what?
Gloria: Pictures. How could you make up characters if everyone you wrote about had to be photographed?
Amy Brand: [talking privately] Have you noticed the way Steve's phone has been ringing lately? Did you see all those editors at the correspondence dinner? The way they were circling him?
Caitlin Avey: Is that what you want, Amy? To get a bunch of smoke blown up your ass by a pack of editors?
Amy Brand: [sarcastically] Yes. Yes it is.
Andy Fox: [to Adam] The New Republic, snobbiest rag in the business, the in-flight magazine of Air Force One... and their star goes out and gets completely snowed by a bunch of hackers. I mean, God couldn't have written this any better.
Michael Kelly: [talking privately] Steve, I have to ask you this: did you ever cook a piece when I was your boss? The Young Conservatives piece, the mini bottles, was that true?
Stephen Glass: [nervously] Chuck, will you come with me because I'm afraid I might do something.
Chuck Lane: [ignores him]
Stephen Glass: Did you hear what I said?
Chuck Lane: [sarcastically] Yeah I did... It's a hell of a story.
Chuck Lane: [during a litigation meeting] We've read through all the pieces now, the entire staff, and we've come up with a list of those whose facts and sources we couldn't verify independently. I know you can't admit guilt of any kind but I want you to confirm a few titles for me.
Glass' Lawyer: We're not prepared to confirm or deny anything at this time.
Chuck Lane: What I'm going to do is this, I'm going to read to you a list of suspicious titles, one by one. If you raise an objection to a particular title, we'll fact check it again in the hope of removing it from the list. If you remain silent we'll assume that piece is fabricated either partially or entirely, and it'll stay on. Is that clear to everyone?
Chuck Lane: Okay.
[Chuck reads from the list]
Chuck Lane: "Hazardous To Your Mental Health."
[Stephen remains silent]
Chuck Lane: That means it stays on the list of suspicious pieces, fabricated pieces.
Glass' Lawyer: We understand, can we move along?
Chuck Lane: [Chuck continues to reads from the list] "Holy Trinity," "Probable Clause," "Don't You D.A.R.E.," "Spring Breakdown," "State of Nature," "Rock The Morons," "After The Fall"...
Adam Penenberg: [refering to the discovery that Stephen fabricated his stories] This guy is toast.
Stephen Glass: [to Mrs. Duke's students] It's true, journalism is hard work. Everybody's under pressure. Everybody grinds to get the issue out. Nobody's getting any sleep, but you are allowed to smile every once in awhile.
David Bach: [over the phone] Look, I'm really sorry to bother you at night but it seemed important.
Chuck Lane: It's fine, is there a problem?
David Bach: Well, I don't know. I just got off the phone with Stephen. He sounds horrible. Did you suspend him, Chuck?
Chuck Lane: David, what is the problem?
David Bach: He asked me if I would drive him out to Dulles later tonight, he said he wasn't sure he'd be safe driving by himself. I thought I should draw your attention to that.
Chuck Lane: Did he say where he was going?
David Bach: Yeah, he said he'd be staying with his family for a while. That could only be one of two places.
Chuck Lane: His parents live in Highland Park, right?
David Bach: Yeah, or his brother out in Palo Alto.
Chuck Lane: [Surprised] I'm sorry?
David Bach: His brother at Stanford.
Kambiz Foroohar: [Over the phone] In light of all this: how confident are you in this story of yours?
Stephen Glass: Are we off the record?
Kambiz Foroohar: If you like.
Stephen Glass: Well, off the record, some of the things that you've brought up: the website, the idea that I was always speaking to these people through voicemail, that is, that they were always calling me. It didn't seem strange before, but clearly, there are some problems with the story. You've pointed them out. One portion of it was structured in a way that - in light of all this, I'm increasingly beginning to believe I've been duped.
Stephen Glass: [Narrating] So Chuck took over and the job, for the first time ever, began to feel like a job. But I'm being unfair. The truth is I wrote fourteen pieces while Chuck was editing the magazine. And the last of them was the biggest story I ever wrote.
Chuck Lane: [Seeing the apology letter issued the New Republic and signed by its staff] It's funny, because I thought I was going to have to explain all this to you.
Stephen Glass: [Narrating] There's so many show offs in journalism, so many braggarts and jerks. They're always selling, always working the room, always trying to make themselves look hotter than they actually are. The good news is reporters like that make it easy to distinguish yourself, if your even a little humble and a little self-effacing, you stand out so you bring a co-worker lunch and his there buried under a dead line and you remember birthdays. I mean even Woodward Bernstein went out for a burger every now and then and he won a Pulitzer. Some reporters think its political content that makes an article memorable. I think it's the people that you write about, you find their quarks their flaws, what makes them funny and what makes them human. Journalism is the art of capturing behavior and you have to know who your writing for, you have to know what your good at. I record what people do and I find what moves them what scares them and I write that down. That way they're the ones telling the story and you know what? Those kinds of pieces can win Pulitzer's too.
Stephen Glass: [to the students] There are sixteen thousand eight hundred magazines in this country but only one calls itself the inflight magazine for Air Force One, that's the thrill of working at The New Republic, you're under paid the hours are brutal but what you write gets read by people who matter, presidents, law makers your work can actually influence public policy that's an amazing privilege and a huge responsibility let me take you through the life of your typical piece so you can see where some are the hurdles are we'll use one I wrote last year about a bunch of young Republicans at a conservatives convention, now journalism is about pursuing the truth and I would never encourage you to do anything sneaky or dishonest in pursuit of a story such as assuming a phony identity
[Referring to his article "Spring Breakdown]
Stephen Glass: On a story like that your notes are crucial you have to record everything you see and everything you hear, every quote, every detail all the way to the mini bottles in the fridge.
Mrs. Duke: [Listing Stephen's journalism experience and background to her students] Contributing writer for Harper's magazine, contributing writer for George Magazine, contributing writer for Rolling Stone and associate editor for The New Republic Magazine in Washington D.C. Sorry if I'm beaming but I was his journalistic muse.
Stephen Glass: [to the students of her class] It's true, I was doing the exact same thing you guys are doing grinding out pieces and then having horrid nightmare of Mrs. Duke and her infamous red pen.
Mrs. Duke: And now he's at The New Republic Magazine, see what happens when greatness is demanded from you?
Chuck Lane: [Over the phone] Can we have a talk here? Just editor to editor?
Kambiz Foroohar: Sure, go ahead
Chuck Lane: Completely off the record and almost human being to human being
Kambiz Foroohar: Of course
Chuck Lane: You guys have discovered something a troubled kid has done but I still don't know how you plan to play it
Kambiz Foroohar: We're not in the business of "gotcha" journalism I have no interest in embarrassing you or The New Republic
Chuck Lane: I'm not worried about me or the magazine that's fair game but there's a kid here just plainly screwed up big time, his reporting was sloppy we know that but we're trying to handle it internally at this point just as you would
Kambiz Foroohar: We're going to run something along the lines of a trick was pulled and some very clever hackers managed to create an illusion
Chuck Lane: I can't tell you what to print or what not to print you guys are journalists but he could be very hurt by what you guys publish, his career
Kambiz Foroohar: I understand, I do, I hope if I made the mistakes he made people would be generous with me but this concerns the very field we cover, we have to run it and when we do, we need a comment from you, so given everything that's happened, how strongly you're going to stand by the story?
Chuck Lane: [Looking at the fake business card] I'm looking into it
Stephen Glass: I messed up, I made a huge error I don't know what to say, if you want me to resign I will.
Michael Kelly: I want you to tell me what happened.
Stephen Glass: They don't have mini bottles at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. I guess I just saw all those little bottles and made an assumption, which I know we're never supposed to do. Those guys were drinking out of a rented refrigerator.
Michael Kelly: That's it?
Stephen Glass: Yeah.
Michael Kelly: The rest of piece is solid?
Stephen Glass: Yeah of course.
Michael Kelly: Go home Stephen, your resignation will not be required.
Stephen Glass: Really? You're not mad?
Michael Kelly: Of course not.
Stephen Glass: Thanks for backing me.
Michael Kelly: It's what editors do.
Stephen Glass: [Pitching his next article] Every radio station is talking about Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield and these are supposed to be news stations. So on Tuesday I started calling a few of them and finally got through to one, a bible talk station in Kentucky, I managed to convince the screener that I was a behavioral psychologist that specializes on human-on-human biting. I told the guy I did all the extensive research on people who chomp flesh under extreme stress so then they put me on the air I took calls for forty minutes.
Stephen Glass: [to the students in Mrs. Duke's class] There are good editors, there are bad editors, you'll have both. My hope for you though is at least once you get a truly great editor, a great editor defends his writers against anyone, he stands up and fights for you. Michael Kelly was that kind of editor he had that kind of courage and that's my hope for all of you.
Stephen Glass: [In his car] There's been so much pressure, I'm sorry I yelled at you back there
Chuck Lane: Ok, you weren't at the conference
Stephen Glass: [finally admitting he fabricated his story "Hack Heaven"] No
Chuck Lane: [referring to the conference call they had earlier that day] And everything we just told the Forbes guys?
Stephen Glass: I'm so sorry Chuck I just panicked if you want me to say "I made it up" I will, if that'll help you I'll say it
Chuck Lane: I just want you to tell me the truth Stephen, can you do that?
Chuck Lane: We need to take a drive to Bethesda
Stephen Glass: What for?
Chuck Lane: I want to meet Joe Hiert
Stephen Glass: I already told you nobody knows where he is
Chuck Lane: Maybe if we go to the hotel where he met with the Restils' and Sims someone will remember them and have some clue on how to find them
Stephen Glass: Hundreds of people go through there everyday
Chuck Lane: These Forbes guys are going to come down on you they are highly suspicious of some of the material in that article, you know that
Stephen Glass: Yeah
Chuck Lane: But they're going to go online with their piece tomorrow, if we can find Hiert I can back them off for a day or two
Stephen Glass: Ok, I'll get my notes
Chuck Lane: [Looking around the conference hall] It was two hundred people here?
Stephen Glass: Yeah they moved in and out most of them were kids
Chuck Lane: That doesn't seem credible to me
Stephen Glass: All I know I was here all of us were right here
Security Guard: Excuse me sir can I help you?
Chuck Lane: Yes you can, we're looking into a conference that was held here couple Sundays ago, computer hackers, do you remember anything like that?
Security Guard: You sure you're in the right building sir?
Stephen Glass: Yes, we're sure
Chuck Lane: Why's that?
Security Guard: [Chuck sternly looks at Stephen] Building's closed on Sundays
Stephen Glass: [Nervously] All I know is I was here, the conference was right here, that's why the Restils' stayed only a few minutes because it was such a dumb place to squeeze into
Stephen Glass: [Explaining to Chuck where the "people" in his fabricated article "sat" during their "meeting"] We were at this table. Restil sat here his mother sat on his right, Hiert sat there but Restil wanted him to sit closer so he slid his chair over, Sims sat here he had a lawyer next to him I forgot the guy's name it's in my notes, somebody was smoking at this table so Restil's mother insisted to another table farther away over there.
Mrs. Duke: [Reading the titles of Glass's articles to the students in her class] "Spring Breakdown", "A Fine Mess", "Jungle", "After the Fall", "Peddling Poppy","CheapSuits", "Kicked Out", "No Free Launch", "Ratted Out", "State of Nature", "Clutch Situation", "All Wet", "Plotters", "Praised be Greenspan", "Monica Sells", "Hack Heaven"
Lewis Estridge: [talking privately in the break room] All I'm suggesting is that there are facets of this you're not considering
Chuck Lane: Why are defending him?
Lewis Estridge: Nobody's defending him
Chuck Lane: Of course you're defending him
Lewis Estridge: He's a kid
Chuck Lane: He doctored his notes just consider that for a second, he sat down and hand wrote a bunch of phony quotes and handed them in as source material for the fact check doesn't that offend you?
Lewis Estridge: Of course it does
Chuck Lane: He also lied to his editor that's supposed to offend you too
Lewis Estridge: His a confused distraught kid obviously so suspend him for a couple months but let's not bury him
Chuck Lane: [Shaking his head] suspend him?
Lewis Estridge: There are also political considerations to take into account here the rest of the staff, the way they feel about him
Chuck Lane: I already know all of that
Lewis Estridge: All I'm saying is if you fire him, some of these people will leave I don't know if we'd still have a magazine at the end of the day
Stephen Glass: [Speaking to Mrs. Duke's students] I'd like to pause for a moment you can't really go into the world of journalism without first understanding how a piece gets edited at a place like TNR, this is the system Michael Kelly brought with him from The New Yorker a three day torture test, if your article is good the process will only make it better if your article is shaky you're in for a week the story comes in then it goes to a senior editor he or she edits it on computer then calls in the writer who makes revisions then the piece goes to a second editor and the writer revises it again then it goes to a fact checker every fact, every date, every title, every place, or assertion is checked and verified then the piece goes to a copy editor where its scrutinized once again then it goes to lawyers who apply their own burdens of proof. Marty looks at it too, his very concerned about any comment the magazine is making then production takes it and lays it out in columns inches and titles then it goes back on paper then back to the writer then back to the copy editor then back to editor number one and editor number two back to the fact checker back to the writer and back to production again throughout the lawyers are reading and rereading looking for red flags looking for anything that feels un-collaborated once their satisfied the pages are reprinted and it all happens again every editor the fact checkers they all go through it one last time, most of you will start out as interns somewhere and interns do a lot of fact checking so pay close attention there is a hole in the fact checking system a big one the facts in most pieces can be checked by some type of source material if an article is on Ethanol subsidies you can check for discrepancies against the congressional record trade publications LexisNexis footage from C-SPAN but on other pieces the only sources material are the notes provided by the reporter
Stephen Glass: I'm so dead, I mean I'm over, nobody is ever going to hire me are they? I was so sloppy trusting my sources like that and lying about it then bringing it to Chuck of all people, the one guy who's hated me all along
Michael Kelly: [talking on the stairs inside the lobby of his office building] I'm sure none of this is personal
Stephen Glass: No? Chuck keeps a list in his head of everybody who's a "Michael Kelly" person, couple of times I said something I shouldn't have said about you so now I'm on it, that's why his so set on killing me now
Michael Kelly: I have to tell you, he's within his rights, things you did were fire able offenses
Stephen Glass: I know I'm not saying they weren't, I did some terrible things but believe me, Chuck doesn't care about any of it, it's my loyalty to you that his punishing me for
Marty Peretz: [Over the phone] Hey chuck I have an uncomfortable situation and I thought you might be able to help me out
Chuck Lane: Sure
Marty Peretz: It's about Mike it hasn't been working out for some time as you know I think the trouble with the magazine is that it's gotten too nasty it's strayed from tradition I'm going to be making changes
Chuck Lane: I see
Marty Peretz: I'd like you to become editor
Chuck Lane: Editor?
Marty Peretz: There's a catch though mike doesn't know so it'll be two or three days before I tell him it'll have to remain between us would that'd be a problem for you?
Chuck Lane: Marty, Mike's a friend
Marty Peretz: I appreciate that but I can't remove him until I know whose going to be his replacement for continuity sake this is how it will have to be
Chuck Lane: I'm going have to think about this and discuss it with my wife
Marty Peretz: Yes of course
Chuck Lane: Have you thought what impact this might have on the staff? His earned a lot of loyalty there
Marty Peretz: Yeah by mostly fighting with me
Chuck Lane: The point is I haven't earned that kind of loyalty