Shattered Glass

It’s indefensible! Don’t you know that?

This 2 minutes and 22 seconds scene from Shattered Glass is a model of self-deception — how a reporter allows her friendship to severely cloud her judgment. The screenplay was based on the Vanity Fair article with an except below:

Shattered Glass - DVD Cover and Vanity Fair Header

What’s especially educational is the turnaround time to see what would be obvious to anyone without a personal stake in it.

She repeatedly digs in to find a way to absolve her friend, but she can’t escape the envelope of arguments that cut off every avenue of evasion:

Chuck Lane: This wasn’t an isolated incident, Caitlin. He cooked a dozen of them, maybe more.

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 be offended if anybody told you not to.

If only we could calculate the astronomical amount of waste we produce in our steadfast refusal to open our eyes as she did. No need to see the next scene — as the excellence in her acting shows that her curiosity has overcome her. As the swivel door swings a breeze her way, and she looks around to wonder — she is well on her way to reflection. She has lived up to what Columbia President Lee Bollinger described as intellectual inquiry in Anna Quindlen’s article: Life of the Closed Mind:

Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind.

Alas, only in the movies. In the real world we are increasingly defending the indefensible as if it were a call of duty — rarely risking having to face the reality that is revealed with reflection.

Original article that exposed the sham of Stephen Glass:

Shattered Glass - Forbes Header

Forbes Digital Tool unearthed a completely fabricated story in The New Republic about teenage hackers extorting money from corporations.

The story, “Hack Heaven,” by Associate Editor Stephen Glass, tells how Ian Restil, a 15-year-old computer hacker, broke into the databases of a “big-time software firm,” Jukt Micronics, and then demanded money, porn magazines and a sports car from the company.

The colorful story, which was published in the May 18 issue, also described how hackers were even hiring agents to broker lucrative deals while government agencies sat on the sidelines, powerless.

Glass further alleged that in Nevada, frustrated police officials arranged for a radio campaign to discourage companies from hiring hackers.

After investigating the claims made in the story, Forbes Digital Tool could not find any trace of the characters or companies or governmental agencies mentioned.

Lane admitted that the story “contained fabricated characters and situations.”

On Friday, May 8, Forbes presented its full findings to Charles Lane, the editor of The New Republic , who at that time was unaware of any questions regarding the story. Lane then conducted his own investigations as Forbes was going to press.

On Sunday, May 10, Lane issued a press release announcing that he had fired Associate Editor Stephen Glass. Lane admitted that the story “contained fabricated characters and situations.”

The New Republic took these steps only after Forbes Digital Tool informed the magazine that it was going to publish a story that proved “Hack Heaven” was a sham from top to bottom. “Your inquiries triggered my inquiry,” Lane told Forbes.

According to Lane, Glass enlisted the aid of his brother and used the latter’s cell phone as the phone number for “Jukt Micronics.” In addition, Glass concocted a fake corporate site for “Jukt Micronics” on America Online, as well as phony voice and E-mail accounts for all his sources.

Charles Lane admits that there are “serious questions” about other pieces Glass has written for the magazine. “On Saturday morning I confronted Glass in the office and he confessed,” Lane said.

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