Exit Interview: Stephen Glass
Philadelphia Magazine: Just to make sure this is the real Stephen Glass, can you confirm your e-mail address?
Stephen Glass: [gives correct address] Do you have people calling who aren’t the real Stephen Glass?
PM: Not recently, but, y’know, for verification purposes. And what was the amount of your last checking account withdrawal?
SG: [laughs] And my mother’s maiden name? Yeah, right.
PM: So you were on the Daily Pennsylvanian’s board of advisers. Are there still people at Penn who support you?
SG: There are definitely people who have been very kind to me. I don’t have any relationship with the paper. My term ended before this all was exposed.
PM: Why did you pass on an offer to consult on the movie?
SG: I wasn’t given an offer to consult on the movie. I know they said that. I don’t have any memory of getting an offer. At one point they explored an opportunity for me to see the movie after it had been made, which I haven’t done.
PM: So reports that you turned down the offer are …
SG: I don’t want to say, “Oh my God, that’s wrong.” I suspect there’s some confusion in all this. No one’s ever sent me a letter. Though maybe someone sent me a letter years ago. No one said, “We’ll give you this money to consult.” I’m not even saying I would do it if they did. I don’t have any memory of that.
PM: Have you read the script?
SG: I read what I think is an early draft. I don’t want to talk about the movie too much. I don’t like to talk about things I haven’t seen. I see a lot of movies, so I assume I’ll see it.
PM: Even if you think the story is garbage, you must be happy that the good-looking kid from Star Wars is playing you.
SG: I’m really unhappy about the movie, so I don’t get much consolation from the fact that it’s Hayden Christensen playing me.
PM: After your 60 Minutes appearance, do people recognize you?
SG: I live an incredibly private life. I try to avoid recognition. I simply dread it. I try not to be tuned into it, or it will ruin my day. I was walking my dog and somebody said, “I saw you on 60 Minutes.” Now I walk my dog on a slightly different route.
PM: Any truth to that rumor you once interviewed for a job here as our fact-checker?
SG: I don’t honestly remember what the description of the job was. We had some discussions about my working there. I’m not saying that’s not true. I don’t remember the specifics.
PM: I also understand you wrote a short item for us about how there was no phone number listed for Governor Tom Ridge. Here’s your chance to unload this burden you’ve been carrying for so long — did you make that up?
SG: I’d have to look at the piece again, honestly. I don’t want to say it’s 100 percent true, simply because I haven’t seen the piece in a number of years. I have no memory of making anything up.
PM: You’re now attempting to get into the New York bar. What type of law do you hope to practice?
SG: I don’t like the corporate stuff. I like the litigation stuff. I was the guy in law school who was making the plaintiff’s argument, or the defense counsel’s argument. I was never inclined toward the prosecution’s arguments. Right now, I’m focusing on writing my second novel.
PM: Did you ever consider switching to a career more suited to your talents, like scriptwriter for the WWF?
SG: Scriptwriting for the WWF? I don’t even know.
PM: Y’know, just ride the wave of falsehood — run for office, or maybe deal some three-card monte?
SG: After I was fired, my main goal was trying to figure out why I had done what I had done wrong and appreciate the pain I caused others. That took many years of therapy. I’m still in therapy. So I think any of those things would be counterproductive to coming to understand that.
PM: Is it true that you are the reader from Mundelein, Illinois, who posted a positive review of your book on Amazon.com?
SG: I haven’t posted a single review on Amazon.com about my own book or anybody’s book.
PM: It’s a nice review. Five stars.
SG: Thanks, but I didn’t post any reviews about my own book.
PM: Can you prove it?
SG: If you know of a way in which I can prove it, I’d be happy to. In fairness, I should say somebody posted a review from my girlfriend, but she contacted Amazon and it was removed.
PM: If your legal career doesn’t pan out, any chance you’ll spend the next few years playing golf and searching for the real sources in those fabricated stories?
SG: I don’t like golf. So you’re making an O.J. comparison.
PM: Um, yeah. Haven’t worked in an O.J. joke all year.
SG: I think I’ve been forthright in saying what is fabricated. I’m happy to cooperate with anybody. I’m spending my time working and making amends.
PM: Has Stephen Glass found peace?
SG: I’m still trying to get there.