Anyway, here’s my suggestion for David Plotz: If he’s so concerned about Stephen Glass’ professional future, Slate should hire the man straightaway as its legal correspondent. Or perhaps as its in-house legal adviser. Glass wouldn’t need a law license for that. Who better to guide the online magazine through the shoals of libel law than the most spectacular of The New Republic’s decades-long lineup of journalistic fakers?
In an online exchange about Glass, my friend Oklahoma journalist Richard Fricker may have put it best: “He disgraced one profession that must fight for its integrity every day, against heavy odds. Why would a second want to give him their trust?
”Second chances, sure. Nine, forget it.”
Observing the behavior of the national political press during the Clinton years, I once wrote that by “claiming the moral authority of a code of professional ethics it idealizes in the abstract but repudiates in practice,” Washington journalism had grown decadent, self-protective and increasingly unworthy of respect by outsiders.
Are we now to abandon even the pretense of honor? Call me smug and self-righteous, but I believe the California justices ruled correctly.
Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.