Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) works as a reporter with The New Republic and is well known and admired among his colleagues for his highly imaginative and witty articles ranging from the Lewinski scandal to young Republicans at a convention and the like. His offbeat selection of topics to write about and his ability to bring out something completely sensational and unknown to readers’ attention was something that set Glass apart from all his peers.
His mentor and editor, Michael Kelly (played wonderfully by Hank Azaria), who always takes the side of his writers when it comes to journalistic liberties defends Glass to the hilt when his credentials and authenticity are questioned in an article involving young Republicans and the facts surrounding the story. Michael does basic investigation, but relies on Glass’s word that his facts are right. However, Kelly is forced out by the owner of the magazine in an incident involving objection to the usage of too many commas by the staff in their articles.
This puts Charles Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) in charge as the editor, and he does not quite have the same rapport with the writers that Kelly had. In fact his predecessor had pretty much escalated himself to a ‘god-like’ status with his writers through being extremely pro-journalist to the extent of being labeled anti-owner and anti-editorial censorship to a large extent. Lane especially doesn’t share the enthusiastic view about Glass and his articles unlike most of the magazine and its readers did.
When Glass discusses his latest article about a teenaged hacker who was hired by a Silicon Valley company, its authenticity is publicly questioned by another online journalist. Lane then probes Glass regarding his sources, his facts and in the midst of this investigation figures out the article was almost entirely fabricated by Glass using hotch-potch sources of information.
Lane then decides to go back through all the articles Glass had written during his tenure with The New Republic and finds out that all or part of 27 articles of a total of 41 articles were fabricated by Glass using part truth part fiction, and publishing them in the magazine as pure facts.
While the story itself may probably not make for wonderful reading or a riveting movie, how it has been told and some good performances by Christensen, Azaria and Saarsgard make this movie a nice movie to watch. Plus the fact that it is based on a true story and deals with one of the most well-read magazines in the US political circles makes us wonder the depths to which people will go down to make a name for themselves. If not anything else, this movie depicts the rise and then the inevitable fall of a reasonably talented youngster because of his hurry to make it to the top of the pile in a hurry.