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CNN Stephen Glass story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by The Big Ragu, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member


    He is before the Cali State Supreme Court trying to be admitted to the bar, which has held up admission due to his character issues. CNN talked to anyone who has known him since his downfall who would talk and it raises some interesting questions. Is he truly remorseful? At what point should he stop suffering for his plagiarism, and be allowed to move on in his new chosen profession?
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Getting admitted to the bar is funny because you can have charecter issues all you want once you're in.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Yeah, I'm not going to defend what he did as a writer, but that was a pretty long time ago... If he hasn't had any issues since and he's passed the bar, he should be admitted.
  4. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    The guy has paid the price and moved on. Others should too.
  5. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    I'm of two minds.

    On the one hand, he's put in the work and done what he needed to do to become a lawyer. One fuck-up, even a huge fuck-up, in your twenties shouldn't define your entire life.

    On the other hand, he's a known liar, who lied in a professional context, and one of the things that holds our legal system together is the assumption that the guys in the courtroom are going to tell the truth about the cases they work. I know that on a practical level it's as imperfect as any other profession, but if a lawyer is caught being dishonest about the cases they put forward they face far harsher punishments than anything that was done to Glass.

    So do you admit a guy to the bar who, if he did some version of what he did as a reporter while practicing law, would most likely have been disbarred? I don't know. Is there any case of a convicted perjurer, or someone who's been censured for fraud, being admitted to a state bar? I am not comparing these things to plagiarism, they are actual crimes, but they touch on a similar ethical concern.

    I think I ultimately come down on the side that he should be admitted and allowed to try and make a life for himself in this, but I don't think it'd be particularly unjust if he wasn't.
  6. I've always been fascinated by his story...and the story of Jason Blair. It does make you wonder whether they're sociopaths or they just got caught in a lie that kept getting bigger and bigger.

    I tend to be a bleeding heart, so I'm more inclined to forgive. Maybe there should be some sort of probationary legal classification for people like Glass?

    As I post this I notice the original story is from 2011.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Let's strive to be accurate here: What Glass did was infinitely worse than plagiarize. He fabricated and made up entire people/scenes stories. Way worse than taking someone else's work.
  8. He can be a lot of things.. Not a lawyer.

    You can't make stuff up, lie, fabricate things and expect to be an officer of the court.

    It's no different than a convicted criminal not being able to become a cop.
    There are consequences to actions. Some are more far-reaching than others. He can do a lot of things given his past. Being a lawyer isn't one of them.

    Tough shit.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    That's interesting... I don't see one being any worse than the other, but both are unforgivable from a journalistic standpoint... I understand both sides of the argument.

    I know Blair did both. I don't remember Glass ever plagiarizing anyone.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I guess it's ultimately semantics, because both are bullshit. But if you plagiarize someone, I could conceivably argue you're still putting facts in print that you believe to be true. It's a crime of laziness. It's still fraud, and you should still be fired, but there are scenarios where I could definitely see a plagiarist being rehabilitated. You're stupid, you're young, you're scared, you cut corners, and you didn't realize in 90 percent of cases, simple attribution is all you need to make what you're doing acceptable.

    Fabulists are something else entirely, in my mind. That's why I don't think Glass should ever be admitted to the bar in any state. You are trying to deceive someone to a much greater extent when you create characters and quotes out of thin air. You're not just breaking the bond of trust the reader is supposed to have with the publication that what they read actually happened, you're taking sledgehammer to it. I know people who have foolishly, naively and stupidly plagiarized something when they were young because they were scared or ignorant. They recovered. I'd trust them at this point to write an article about me. Privately, I could even give you a name. But I don't know anyone I would ever think of hiring or vouching for who made stuff up or created a deliberate falsehood. That's a journalism death penalty for me. No exceptions.
  12. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    You'd be hard pressed to find one, and I doubt it's ever happened where the crime was disclosed.

    Crimes of dishonesty are seen as an absolute bar to admission. You stand a better chance as a convicted murderer of being admitted to the bar than you do as an embezzler or con-man or perjurer.

    And your analogy is not far off. The fact that Glass made up people and statistics and other sources out of whole cloth, then presented them as fact, while working in a profession in which that is a cardinal sin, raises the same kinds of questions about his character as if he had been convicted of a crime of dishonesty.

    Going to law school and graduating with a law degree does not entitle one to become a lawyer. Neither does passing the bar exam. While he's not a criminal, he has demonstrated a significant moral flaw that calls into account his trustworthiness. He should be barred from admission.
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