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Stephen Glass Is Too Crooked For The Law

Memo Pad National News

Stephen Glass Is Too Crooked For The Law


I said there was a Society of Men among us, bred up from their Youth in the Art of proving by words multiplied for the Purpose, that White is Black, and Black is White, according as they are paid. To this Society all the rest of the People are Slaves.

–Lemuel Gulliver explains lawyers, from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, 1726

Everybody hates the other guy’s lawyer, so the news that serial fabricator Stephen Glass was denied a license to practice law by the California Supreme Court has unsettled certain of his former colleagues in Washington journalism.

Slate editor David Plotz characterized the court’s 35-page decision as “smug, self-righteous,” “snobbish,” “bizarre and backward.” A former colleague and friend at The New Republic, where Glass published many of his fabricated hit pieces disguised as journalism, Plotz writes that Glass lied to him almost every time they spoke.

In his dreadful novel The Fabulist, Plotz writes, Glass portrayed a character clearly based on his wife Hanna Rosin as “conniving, sleazy, and disloyal, and the Hanna-like character’s husband as even worse.” Somebody who did that to my wife would be well-advised to avoid me.

Even so, Plotz now finds it incomprehensible that his one-time deceiver would be shunned by a bunch of damned lawyers. Lawyers! Who do they think they are? He credits the character witnesses and psychotherapists who testified that the man has reformed since his disgraceful exit from journalism.

And after all, he concludes, “law isn’t holy orders. It’s a job.

To reach this conclusion, Plotz actually argues that Glass’s well-earned reputation as “a liar and a fraud” all but guarantees he’ll be honest and circumspect as an attorney. “Glass is far less likely than most lawyers to try to sneak something past a judge, because he’ll know that every single word he speaks and document he signs is suspect.”

Rephrased: Glass is so crooked he’ll have to play it straight.

Me, I wouldn’t trust the guy to pick up my laundry. But hold that thought. For readers who have forgotten the details, the California Supreme Court’s ruling makes for fascinating reading. At this remove, Glass’ ability to tell editors exactly what they evidently wanted to hear stands out. His first TNR cover story for editor Michael Kelly was “Taxis and the Meaning of Work.”

“Its theme,” the justices write “was that Americans, and in particular, African-Americans, were no longer willing to work hard or to take on employment they consider menial.”

Complete with made-up jive-talking slackers and an imaginary armed holdup, it was followed by “Spring Break,” a tale about young Republicans at a CPAC convention whose idea of fun was humiliating homely women. The idea was to seduce “a real heifer, the fatter the better, bad acne.”

Guys would then emerge from hiding, laughing, pointing and snapping photos. “A wash of despair and alcohol and brutishness” hung over the entire GOP conference, Glass moralized.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. pisces63 February 5, 2014

    Boy was that glossed over in the movie ‘Shattered Glass!’ it actually had you feeling sorry for the guy. It did help they had a very handsome man portraying him, Hayden Christensen. That, alone, should have told me something. Should have been one of the Goons in Popeye!! I almost bought the book, avid reader that i am but even I could not ignore the horrid reviews.

  2. randyjet February 5, 2014

    This is actually funny since the CA Supreme Court just allowed an illegal to practice law. That person has so little respect for our laws that he flagrantly SPITS

    1. dpaano February 5, 2014

      The so-called “illegal” was actually the child of a family that came here illegally. He was very young and had no choice as to where he was taken. To have gotten through school, including law school, is admirable. I’m glad our California Supreme Court is allowing him to practice law. Now he can work a real job, pay taxes (to help support you and I), and maybe become an even better citizen (better than some of those who were actually BORN here). My hats off to him AND to the Court.

      1. randyjet February 5, 2014

        SO it is OK for this illegal to commit further crimes since the Supreme court of CA has stated that Federal laws against him working are invalid. Seems like CA has joined the ranks of the Southern segregationists who said that Federal laws do not apply to the states. It is ILLEGAL for any person to hire a person who is a known illegal. So much for the rule of law. I think that this guy should be investigated to see if he registered for the Selective Service and if he did not he should be prosecuted by other lawyers for having committed a FELONY.

        1. JPHALL February 5, 2014

          Randyjet: You TParty haters are so fast to say negative things about others without getting the facts. This guy has tried for years to be legalized. People you obviously support in the GOP/TP have refused to deal with the problem of children who have grown up thinking they were American citizens. Stop hating and get the TPers in the House to do their jobs.

          1. randyjet February 5, 2014

            You are truly ignorant since I am NOT a fan of the GOP or TP. I am a long time liberal Democrat who reveres the late great black liberal Barbara Jordan who chaired the commission on immigration. I suggest you read about her commission and recommendations which used to be the liberal position. It called for a mandatory E-Verify for all employers, strict border enforcement, and massive round-ups of illegals and deportations. THAT is the real progressive position. The AFL-CIO demanded and got penalties enacted for employers who hired illegals. I am also a former union official, OCAW 4-227.
            You also forget what happened to long time Rep Ortiz when he was defeated by a real Tea Party Anglo, Farenthold in a district that was 70% Hispanic who ran on a tough anti-illegal platform. That shows that even though he is a nutty TPer, the people voted him in. I live in Texas on the border and been here for many years. Most voters here are NOT in favor of amnesty for illegals.
            The FACT is that so called DREAMers are NOT citizens and they are NOT US citizens in any way. It is called following the law. Just because you feel it is right to give everybody who come here citizenship, does not make it right They and their families have STOLEN something that they have no legal or moral right to have, the right to live and work in the US.

          2. JPHALL February 5, 2014

            Once again you miss the true point. You were contrasting one man’s (a “Dreamer”) attempt to practice law in California with another who was an admitted liar a a journalist. Fix the immigration laws so that people have a straight forward way to become US citizens. Remove the special treatment for Cubans, and stop using laws to hold people back.
            We have let some of the worst people in the world to come hare and become citizens as long as they have money. This includes tyrants, dictators and torturers. Stop sermonizing and fix the system.

          3. randyjet February 6, 2014

            The fact is that telling lies is not a crime and is also normal in journalism in many publications. So I guess that any journalist on FAUX news cannot be admitted to the bar. The behavior of most lawyers belies their professional ethics, and a persons past is not relevant absent a criminal conviction. The illegal committed MANY crimes, and simply turning a blind eye to this goes against the whole idea of professional ethics. Thus the SC of CA has chosen to disregard the past behavior of this person, yet applies a FAR more problematic standard to a person who has committed NO crime at all.
            There IS a straight forward way to become legal in the US. I know since I was dating a British woman who did just that. Your problem is that YOU and the illegal do not like the laws. That is a matter for the legislature to address, NOT the court taking exception to the laws as written. We do NOT live in a judicial dictatorship where judges are free to ignore laws they do not like. The only thing that holds people back is violating the laws we have enacted. If you don’t like the law against stealing, you cannot claim that the law discriminates because it denies the crook future employment and rights. The reason that he cannot become legal is because he refuses to FOLLOW THE LAW. He had every chance to get right with the law when he turned 18. He did not do so. He thought it was more important that HIS desires overrode all of our laws. He has stolen something that he has no legal or moral right to have, the right to live and work in the US.

          4. Allan Richardson February 6, 2014

            I personally would not like to allow a Faux Nooz “journalist” to become a practicing attorney.

          5. Allan Richardson February 6, 2014

            And Rupert Murdoch.

        2. Allan Richardson February 6, 2014

          He did not commit any crimes. A minor in the custody of a parent does not break the law just by being with the parent when the parent breaks the law.

          If you had been taken illegally by your parents to China, for example, and grew up speaking only Chinese, believing you WERE Chinese, would you be a “criminal” under Chinese law? Perhaps in the technical sense, but for China to deport you to the US as an adult, not speaking the language (maybe China is a bad example, because so many Chinese study English; maybe substitute Ethiopa), and call you a criminal, would be … un-American? Or just plain INHUMANE?

          1. randyjet February 7, 2014

            Your example is absurd on its face, since the kids most certainly DO speak their native language at home, otherwise we would NOT need ESL courses for those kids. I know of no illegal kids who do not speak their parents language. The DREAMers are being given amnesty as late as 16 years old. Think that they have NO knowledge of their home country at that age? This is also absurd on its face.

    2. ThomasBonsell February 5, 2014

      Maybe the judges on the California Supreme Court have read the United States Constitution and found that part prohibiting states from depriving any PERSON within their jurisdiction of “equal protection of the laws.”

      That means that any person, citizen, immigrant (legal or otherwise) has the exact same rights as you do under state law. That clearly means that this person, you evidently despise, has the right to a law licenses in California if he/she has done all the work required to get that license.

      Your argument is subversive.

      1. randyjet February 5, 2014

        Actually the SCOTUS has held that Federal law trumps state law, and since he is not a citizen, he does not have constitutional rights except in criminal cases that apply to all, no matter citizenship. Thus Federal law making it illegal to hire or employ those who are here illegally are quite valid. IT is you and the CA Supreme court which are the ones who are subverting US law and our system. In fact illegals have NO recourse to US courts in matters concerning their legal immigration status. They do NOT have the right to an attorney, nor do they get Miranda warnings upon arrest. Now if you can show that he has legal status in being here, THEN the CA Supreme court CAN admit him to the bar. Unfortunately, they have chosen to ignore all of our laws. I would guess that he does not have a drivers license, and if he does, then he has committed perjury in falsely swearing he is a legal immigrant. He also has committed other felonies besides to get his legal training. Is there ANY law he should obey if he disagrees with them? Talk about entitlement mentality!

        1. ThomasBonsell February 5, 2014

          You fail to see the difference between federal jurisdiction and state jurisdiction.

          The 14th Amendment that provides equal protection of the laws to all PERSONS involves only state jurisdiction and says nothing about it applying only to criminal matters.

          There is no such “equal protection” clause in the Constitution that applies to the federal level.

          It is under the state governments that an immigrant has the same rights as you do, That isn’t applicable under federal jurisdiction. The federal courts have repeatedly voided state laws the curtail rights of non-citizen residents. There was one called proposition 187 in California that was voided by several federal courts before the new governor dropped all appeals, thereby killing the law.

          The California Supreme Court and I have it right. You do not.

          1. randyjet February 6, 2014

            The 14th Amendment IS part of the Constitution and does apply to Federal and state laws. It is the one amendment that fundamentally changed the concept of Federalism and extended Federal laws to the internal laws of the states.
            You also don’t understand the court rulings against state laws on immigration. They have been voided since they trample on the Federal laws. Thus the Federal laws against illegals having a job ARE legal and still carry penalties. In FACT, it is illegal for any foreigner to be out in public without a valid passport and visa on their person. By allowing the illegal to the bar, the SC of CA has basically said that Federal laws do not apply to the states, which is against virtually the whole idea of the 14th. I would go to law school before you make rather ignorant statements.

          2. ThomasBonsell February 6, 2014

            I got my “expertise” in the graduate school of one of America’s elite universities under the teaching of some of the top constitutional scholars in America.

            Where did you get your confusion?

            The 14th extends federal laws to the states? BS. Article VI makes the federal Constitutional, laws and treaties the “supreme Law of the Land but does not make federal law state law.The 14th extends the privileges and immunities of the Constitution to the states, in other words, the Bill of Rights.

            And immigration rulings mean that the national borders fall under the jurisdiction of the national government, not state jurisdiction, Read Edwards v California.

            The federal government and state governments have their own areas of jurisdiction, that is what federalism means, but federal law does not replace state law, only recognizes federal law as superior.

          3. randyjet February 7, 2014

            The FACT is that Federal law DOES make Federal laws effective in ALL the states. Just ask the segregationists about that fact. While it is true that Federal law cannot change state laws by fiat, they and the SCOTUS made ALL segregationist laws invalid, moot, void etc.. I understand that MS only got around to banning slavery until recently in their state legal code, but to say that Federal law did not replace the MS law on slavery is absurd. So while it is true that the Feds cannot void or replace states law that are on the books, they sure made it legally moot.

          4. ThomasBonsell February 7, 2014

            I never said that federal law are not effective in all states. And I never mention state segregation laws. If you would read better you will see it was the United States Constitution that voided state segregation laws.

            The Fourteenth Amendment clearly says equal protection of the laws for all PERSONS in all states. Section 5 of the 14th says Congress has the power to enforce theamendments provision when states don’t.

            You obviously have never studied constitutional law under anyone educated on the system. If you would study you might find that the courts do not void law when they declare the law unconstitutional; they merely say the judicial system will not recognize an unconstitutional law. The laws stay on the books. Same with a segregation law that has been ruled unconstitutional or overridden by federal law. That law stays on the books until the state legislature repeals it, but it can’t be enforced by the courts who no longer recognize its validity.

            Get some education.

          5. randyjet February 7, 2014

            I see that your education didn’t do you much good since the whole POINT of my bringing up the fact that some states left old laws on the books shows that I fully understand the law on this point. So while I made a poor choice of words in saying that Federal laws replace state laws, and should have said EFFECTIVELY replace or SUPERCEDE state law, you on the other hand miss the whole thrust of the post. You might want to check on getting a refund on your education.

          6. ThomasBonsell February 7, 2014

            My education did me a whole lot of good because I can recognize someone who has not bothered to get an education but still thinks the lack of specific knowledge is a sign of genius. I am talking about you whose lack of knowledge is blatantly obvious with everything you say.

            You obviously don’t know how to read “equal protection of the laws for all PERSONS”, you have no idea what the Fourteenth Amendment is all about. Bet you haven’t discovered that the amendment refers to citizens in one area and persons in another, which means you misread the whole concept.

            Once again, get some education.

        2. Allan Richardson February 6, 2014

          Maybe you would read them their Dred Scott rights when arrested?

  3. randyjet February 5, 2014

    This is funny since the CA Supreme Court just allowed an illegal to practice law. This person has so little respect for our laws that he flagrantly SPITS on them. Then we have the other criminal, Bernadine Dohrn who teaches law after being denied membership in the Illinois State Bar because she is a convicted felon. One has to ask why a person who has committed no crime at all is denied bar membership, while a person who has committed multiple felonies is allowed to join. I will bet any amount of money that the illegal did not bother to register for the draft, which is a felony, did not have a drivers license, insurance, or register his car, violated many Federal laws, has not filed an income tax, among other crimes, yet he IS fit to join other lawyers who are just as crooked as he is.

  4. Barbara Morgan February 5, 2014

    Can’t image anyone being told that they are to crooked to be a lawyer? How did all the lawyers that are Congress get their law licenses I wonder if he is to crooked to become a lawyer.

    1. Sandra Dennis February 6, 2014


      ☯☯☯ ☯☯�☯ ☯☯�☯☯ ☯☯☯My hats off to him AND to the Court.

  5. Mr Wiseguy February 5, 2014

    Too crooked to be a lawyer? Good one.

  6. grmce February 5, 2014

    The key fact is that practising lawyers are Officers of the Court and as such, contrary to popular fantasy, there is a fairly stiff set of ethics to which they must adhere.

    Mr. Glass has demonstrated again and again that he is an unprincipled liar and I am pretty sure that qualifies him as “not a fit and proper person” to practice the law. Much of the legal code of ethics revolves around honesty – honesty in dealing with one’s clients, honesty when dealing with one’s adversaries and honest with the courts. Without those three elements the whole system collapses.

    For the California Supreme Court to have allowed him to practise would have been a gross dereliction of their duty to the law and the California Constitution. His name may be glass, but his record of dishonesty would not bode well for the transparency demanded of the law.

    1. randyjet February 7, 2014

      The problem is that this illegal SPITS on Federal law and is continuing to violate USC 8Sect 1324 which is a CRIME punishable by anywhere from six months to a minimum of three years in prison. He can avoid violating the law as long as he does not get paid. Glass also did the work and HE has NOT committed a felony as this illegal is continuing to do.
      Now you might have a point IF he turned himself in to IE and sought a hearing and was granted legal residence status. He REFUSED to even take that minimal step to get his legal residency. He will NOT be allowed to practice before the Federal bar since he is a criminal and that is a LOT worse than being a bad journalist. Under the law , he is continuing to show his contempt for Federal law. How that shows his good moral character is beyond any concept of law and ensures contempt for the law, THUS he is ineligible to practice law.

      1. grmce February 7, 2014

        Shouting random words doesn’t change the fact that the criteria for determining “a fit and proper person” for the purposes of admission as a legal practitioner are not so much to do with possible technical violations of administrative law child as the honesty of the person in question.

        On the one hand we have a person whose only “offence” was being transported across a national border as a very young child and being reared in the U.S. under very difficult circumstances.

        On the other hand we have a person who repeatedly published defamatory lies. A person who concocted imaginary tales that defamed both individuals and whole “types” of people by playing to stereotypes that pandered to the prejudices of his editors/audience.

        The comparison you make is the classic “apples to oranges” fallacy. Could it be founded to any degree in bigotry?

        1. randyjet February 7, 2014

          Unfortunately for you, there is the FACT that at age 18 he became an adult and is subject to needing to follow ALL of our laws, State and Federal. That includes turning himself in to ICE and regularizing his status if he is so honest. Then you make unsupported assertions as to his “hard” life. I will do the same and will BET a lot of money that he committed a FELONY when he turned 18 and did NOT register for the draft. That alone though not charged or convicted is a LOT worse than writing lies about others. Glass did not commit any crime, nor is he alleged to have committed a felony as the illegal did and absent any civil award for libel, or slander, the CA SC has only their dislike of him and his so called journalism. I quite agree that you ARE comparing apples and oranges.
          Then according to USC title 8 Sect 1324 he is committing a crime by working here. That he is not being prosecuted is not relevant for determining his willingness to obey the law. Now if he is independently wealthy and does not need to work, or he takes no money for his legal work, THEN he will not be committing a crime and thus fit to practice law. Then one must wonder how he will be able to practice before the Federal bar while flagrantly violating the law. If he ever sets foot in a Federal court, if I were opposing counsel, I would seek to have him thrown out of court if he is ever admitted to it.

          1. grmce February 7, 2014

            I’m afraid that you are utterly unaware of the issues here – to the point that you actually think that there is a comparison of issues in these two matters.

            Here’s a hint: they are not comparable.

  7. Allan Richardson February 6, 2014

    My lawyer is a brilliant defender of justice. Your lawyer shaves the truth to give you an advantage. THEIR lawyers are crooked as a snake.

    My lawsuit is to implement justice. Your lawsuit is to cheat someone out of money. HIS lawsuit is frivolous.

    Does that explain it?


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