This past weekend, I had a chance to see the much talked about movie about Stephen Glass Scandal, Shattered Glass. It was interesting to watch the Hollywood versions of the events, which transpired at Forbes Digital, where I worked at the time the story broke. There were few things, which did not seem right while watching the movie, which is very well directed, and mostly accurate. (Watch the trailer at Apple.com and read this excellent article in Slate.
* First of all, Forbes Digital offices were not that cool and elegant and spacious.
* There were no Asians or blacks at the online magazine so some of the extras are out of place.
* Kambiz had read the Glass piece and discussed it with Adam Pennenberg, offering it as an example of the kind of scoops and color that Adam should be contributing to the Forbes Digital.
* Kambiz did not question the veracity of the piece, he offered it to Adam as a good example of what someone covering the hacker beat should be on top of. Adam did the usual checks, went to Kambiz with the questions of its accuracy. That perhaps was the beginning of the end for Stephen Glass.
* At around this time Churbuck was brought into the picture and shown the Jukt Micronics website. A web-guru, he did a quick screen grab, and basically gave a quick lesson in the investigative technique of how to verify the companyÌs existence Ò the Secretary of StateÌs corporate registration office in Sacramento and the Mountain View city water department, etc.. (Churbuck, still ranks as top editor in my books even though he has left the journalism game since then)
* Thinking back, in many ways Churbuck was the brake which forced K&A to report the piece as air tight as they could before pulling the trigger and calling the New RepublicÌs editor. The dynamic duos were in a hurry to publish something, but were smart enough to listen. If I remember correctly, Churbuck, Adam and Kambiz were all on a conference call with Charles Lane, the editor, who did the expected and stonewalled. Churbuck was no where to be found in the movie.
* Churbuck left for Paris due to personal commitments.
* Over that weekend, Lane grilled Glass, got his confession, then dished the story to Howard Kurtz. When the Washington Post published, Kambiz pulled the trigger. Here is a link to the story.
So here is the version of events from someone who was there. I am writing from memory and might be wrong, but I am sure that this is as close to what I can remember. It was truly a remarkable day for web journalism. I think Adam deserves all the praise and kudos for his hard work, and so does K-man for being the editor of reason on this. But I would have loved to see ChurbuckÌs role in the story outlined more clearly. (Kambiz wrote a nice editorial and here is a link