Drama based on the true story of a promising young journalist (Hayden Christensen) who is disgraced after being caught fabricating articles.
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This programme contains strong language.
There are so many show-offs in journalism,
so many braggarts and jerks.
They're always selling, always working the room,
always trying to make themselves look hotter than they actually are.
The good news is reporters like that make it easy to distinguish yourself.
If you're even a little bit humble,
a little self-effacing or solicitous,
you stand out.
So you bring a coworker lunch if he's buried under a deadline.
You remember birthdays.
It's true - journalism is hard work, everybody's under pressure,
everybody's grinding to get the issue out, nobody's getting any sleep,
but you are allowed to smile every once in a while.
I mean, even Woodward and Bernstein went out for a burger now and then,
and they won a Pulitzer.
Some reporters think it's political content that makes a story memorable.
I think it's the people you find -
their quirks, their flaws, what makes them funny,
what makes them human.
Journalism is just the art of capturing behaviour.
You have to know who you're writing for
and you have to know what you're good at.
I record what people do. I find out what moves them, what scares them.
And I write that down. That way they're the ones telling the story.
And you know what? Those kind of pieces can win Pulitzers too.
-Contributing writer For 'Harper's Magazine'.
Contributing writer for 'George' magazine.
Contributing writer for 'Rolling Stone'.
And of course, associate editor of the 'New Republic' magazine
in Washington, DC.
Sorry if I'm beaming, but, you know, I was his journalistic muse.
Just seven years ago, he was sitting...
And I was doing the exact same thing you guys are doing -
writing out pieces and then having horrid nightmares
of Mrs Duke and her infamous red pen.
And see what happens when greatness is demanded of you?
Now he's at the 'New Republic'.
And now I'm at the 'New Republic'.
-In May, the editors of the 'New Republic' magazine...
-..the 'Washington Post', the 'New Republic'
and the 'Boston Globe'.
But the bill was blasted in the 'New Republic' this week.
They called it a pitiful act...
-I just wanted to get confirmation on...
-So I said network news...
Oh, right, that's that show that's on every night
between those Fixodent commercials, right?
-Shut him up.
Gloria, that necklace is you.
Thanks, doll. I got some new merchandise.
-For your girlfriend.
-As soon as I get this piece done.
-How's it coming?
It's the fundamental nature of the magazine, Lew.
Miller, can I get some coffees, please?
If people want photographs, they can buy 'Newsweek'.
They DO buy 'Newsweek'.
And 'Time' and 'US News' and 'World Report'
and our losses are a joke.
Let me guess - he's on you again about a redesign.
-Yeah. Cover page and graphics.
-Yeah, and photographs.
Let me remind you, Steve,
this magazine hasn't changed its look since the '80s.
How is it?
-You hate it.
-No, it's good, it's good.
It's just a little rough.
No, it's the worst thing I ever wrote. It's horrible.
If you guys don't help me with it, I'm not even gonna send it in.
-When's it due?
I may have to kill myself.
I mean, the 'New York Times Magazine'!
Will you guys help me with it? Please?
Call for you on three, sweetie. Someone from 'Policy Review'.
When did you start talking to 'Policy Review'?
I'm not. It's probably nothing.
Send it to my voicemail, OK?
-Oh, and, sweetie...
Caitlin just told me that she needs gifts for two showers next week.
You think you might have something for her?
I'll get my box.
-I couldn't resist.
-So you wanna do this now?
-Yeah, in a second.
I just have to return a quick phone call.
I got you some gum.
If I threw a party where all we did was play Monopoly, would you come?
Could I be the little shoe?
The lawyers have asked us to tone down the cover on Serbia.
They're afraid it might invite charges of libel.
Yeah, um, I know a little bit of libel law.
It's only relevant
if the person in question has been out of the public eye.
Well, yeah, so there's Serbia, hidden,
unknown to the world at large
until it appeared on the cover of the 'New Republic'
with our weekly circulation of 80,000.
-Almost done with it, Rob?
-Er, two days, tops.
-Yeah, two days from Hanukkah.
-Hey, it's basically finished.
-For the most part.
Er, just finished the piece on ethanol subsidies.
There are 16,800 magazines in this country.
But only one calls itself the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.
And that's the thrill of working at the 'New Republic'.
You're underpaid, the hours are brutal,
but what you write gets read by people who matter -
Your work can actually influence public policy.
That's an amazing privilege and a huge responsibility.
I'm sorry. They don't want to hear
the whole journalistic responsibility speech.
You just want to know how to get your name in print, right?
Let me take you through the life of your typical piece
so you can see what some of the hurdles are.
We'll use one I wrote last year about a bunch of young Republicans
at a conservatives convention.
Now, journalism is about pursuing the truth.
And I would never encourage you to do anything sneaky or dishonest
in pursuit of a story.
Such as assuming a phony identity.
I don't know, man. It seemed like a pretty good turnout to me.
No, man. Conservatism's dead.
IN CLASSROOM: On a story like that, your notes are crucial.
You have to record everything you see and hear, every quote, every detail,
all the way down to the mini-bottles in the fridge.
We're like this guy who has to pee,
lost in the desert, looking for a tree.
You guys know what you're shopping for, right?
Get us a real heifer. The fatter the better.
Bad acne would be a bonus.
Let's do it!
MEN YELL AND HOOT
We'll thank you in the morning, I promise!
MEN CONTINUE HOOTING AND YELLING
What are you working on?
Er, a piece Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote about the Falklands War.
How about you?
Young Republicans at the CPAC Conference.
Pretty standard stuff.
Hotel ballrooms, boring speeches, chicken dinners.
Which is why everybody spends their time in their suites upstairs
Yeah, I went to one.
The ballroom was empty.
Every delegate under the age of 25
was up on the 5th floor getting loaded.
Drugs, binge drinking, hookers.
Gets pretty ugly.
Sounds great, Steve.
So does yours.
OK, well, I gotta get back to work.
-Have a good lunch.
Hold it. Have to give myself a demerit for poor scene-setting.
Let me explain. A year ago, Chuck Lane and I were peers.
He hadn't become editor yet.
Michael Kelly was editing the magazine then.
Sorry, Mrs Duke. I know how you feel about clarity.
We've got to start calling some other places.
I don't think I can eat this stuff every day.
Er, it was the Cannon building. You had it as Russell. I fixed it.
-I really liked it, Ames.
-But boring, right?
No. Nah, I really, really liked it.
Somebody for you on three. Someone from 'Harper's.
When did you start talking to 'Harper's?
I'm not. It's probably nothing.
Could you send it to my voicemail, please?
And by the way, Glo, that lipstick is the bomb.
Oh, thanks, doll.
What is it, Midnight Mist?
-I really gotta stop doing that.
All I do is give people more reasons to assume I'm gay.
I mean, lately, it's everyone.
Like the other night, I went out to dinner with this guy from the 'Post'.
I can't tell you. He made me promise.
Anyway, we were walking around afterwards
talking about Medicare, for God's sakes,
and then the next thing I know we're standing on the corner
of 18th and T.
And he somehow managed to slip his tongue down my throat.
And I'm like, "Wait a minute. How did this happen?"
I don't understand.
Yeah, neither did I.
-You have a minute?
We have a problem with the 'Spring Breakdown' piece.
Just got a letter from David Keene. He ran the CPAC Conference.
-He's made some...
-Are you mad at me?
He's made some pretty serious charges.
We need to answer them.
OK, um, my notes are at home. I can be back in 20 minutes.
Is that too long?
Do your notes have anything about the minibars?
-Because that would help.
-I think so.
No, I'm sure. Why?
He claims the Omni Shoreham doesn't even have minibars.
He mentioned it specifically.
I saw them. There were little bottles of booze all over the room.
OK, um, I'll get Aari and Rob into it
and start the fact check again.
-I'll get my notes.
I'm sorry. We'll have to finish this later.
No, no, I understand.
Just tell me.
Keene was right, Michael.
I messed up.
I made a huge error.
I don't know what to say. If you want me to resign, I will.
I want you to tell me what happened.
They don't have minibars at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
I guess I just saw all those little bottles and I made an assumption,
which I know we're never supposed to do.
I'm really sorry.
Those guys were drinking out of a rented refrigerator.
-The rest of the piece is solid?
-Well, yeah, of course.
Go home, Steve. Your resignation will not be required.
Really? You're not mad?
Of course not.
Er, do you want my notes?
Have a good night.
-Thanks for backing me.
-It's what editors do.
Hi. Front desk, please.
Hi, I need some information.
Um, do the suites at your hotels have minibars?
Well, can a guest rent something like that,
like a mini-refrigerator or something?
OK. Thank you very much.
And she says, "I didn't invite Vernon Jordan that evening
"because my guests of honour were girls from Smith College.
"Some of them were virgins and I wanted to keep it that way."
And you're gonna put that in the article, right?
Gosh, Alec, I don't know.
I mean, 'George' is such a dignified publication.
You wouldn't want to put in something that gossipy, would you?
Of course we put it in.
Thank you, Stephen. You're going to make me look very, very smart.
Er, the Fritos are running dangerously low.
I'll be right back.
You can't hide in here all night, Ames.
Can I ask you something?
What is this? I found it in the freezer.
You said you hated how the Diet Coke at parties
was always at room temperature.
And how, if you wanted to drink it cold,
you'd have to put it on ice, and then it would get too watery.
-Don't you remember?
-Yeah, I do.
But I said that a couple of years ago.
I'm gonna call it a night, but thanks for having me.
Oh. Thanks for coming.
Alphabetised beer. That's perfect.
Drive safe, Alec.
Associate editor of 'George'.
When did you start talking to 'George'?
I'm really not.
It's probably nothing.
You know, if they stoop any lower,
pretty soon you won't be able to tell the difference
between 'Time' and 'People'.
You say that as if there IS a difference.
Hey! Thank you, Steve.
Are you mad at me?
I told you, I do not respond to "Are you mad at me?"
I'm not your kindergarten teacher.
We've been over this a thousand times already.
You can't go to law school.
You don't want to go to law school, remember?
I know, I know. It's only nights.
I wouldn't have to stop working or anything.
I'm just going to put these down, I'll be right back.
No! I want to talk about this.
I told you, it's my parents, OK? They never shut up about it.
If I don't go, they won't let me be a journalist anymore.
Let you? You're 24 years old, Stephen.
You don't know how things go where I grew up, Caitlin, OK?
There are rules there.
If your son's not a doctor or a lawyer
you keep your curtains closed.
You're writing for the 'New-fucking-Republic'.
-Isn't that good enough?
-Not in Highland Park.
-Stop apologising for everything.
I was looking through your mail. You should be pissed at me.
-You're gonna throw this out, right?
I can't. I'm sorry.
Every station on the radio is talking about it -
Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield -
and these are supposed to be news stations.
Um, so, on Tuesday, I started calling a few of them
and I finally got through to one.
A Bible talk station in Kentucky.
And I managed to convince the screener
that I was a behavioural psychologist
who specialises in human on human biting.
I told the guy I'd done all this extensive research
on people who chomp flesh under extreme stress.
-What did they say?
-They put me on the air.
-I took calls for 45 minutes.
-Oh, my God.
Where does he find these people?
It is kind of stupid. I know it's silly.
I'll probably just kill it.
So you'll help me with it?
Why? Do you have finals this week or something?
OK, moving right along.
Er, Chuck, what do you have for us?
Oh, it's just...
It's a bit of a hard act to follow.
Very hard to follow.
I'm starting the piece on Haiti.
And I'll be going to...
Hey. Don't let me interrupt.
I'm going down to Port-au-Prince for a few days.
STEVE: Marty Peretz. Our boss.
He's a little scary.
How about the commas in dates, are we supposed to circle those too?
Let's just get this done, OK?
What the hell is this?
Marty told us to circle all the commas in the last issue
so he could show us how we use them improperly.
He said commas should always appear in pairs.
Apparently, the issue is rife with comma errors.
-That's what he said.
No, I'm not angry, Marty, I'm embarrassed for you.
These people work gruelling hours for meagre pay.
They deserve a thank you,
not another one of your world-famous tantrums.
OK, I'd resign before I'd let you bully them like that again,
and I will.
Do you understand that?
-OK. Thank you.
-HANGS UP PHONE
Er, the great comma debate is history,
so we can all go back to work.
There are good editors, there are bad editors.
You'll have both.
My hope for you, though, is that once, at least once,
you get a truly great one.
A great editor defends his writers against anyone.
He stands up and fights for you.
Michael Kelly was that kind of editor.
He had that kind of courage.
And that's what hung him.
-Hey, Chuck. It's Marty Peretz.
-You got a minute?
-Of course. How are you, Marty?
I'm in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, Chuck,
and I thought you might be able to help me out.
-It's about Mike.
-He and I...
Well, it hasn't been working out for some time now, as you know.
The tone of the magazine - I think it's gotten too nasty.
It's strayed from the traditions that make it great
and I... I'm going to be making a change.
I'd like you to step in for him, Chuck.
I'd like you to become editor.
There's a catch, of course.
Mike doesn't know any of this yet
and it's gonna be two or three days before I tell him,
so it'll have to remain between us until then.
Would that be a problem for you?
-Marty, Mike's a friend.
-I appreciate that, Chuck.
But I can't remove him until I know who's gonna be his replacement -
for continuity's sake.
So this is how it has to be.
I'm gonna have to think about this.
I'm gonna have to discuss it with Catarina.
Oh, of course. Of course. Listen...
Marty, have you thought about the impact this might have on the staff?
They feel very...
He's earned a lot of loyalty there.
Mostly by fighting with me!
Well, the point is I haven't earned that kind of loyalty.
-And if it looks like...
-I'll be in New York tomorrow.
We'll go over all this in detail.
-Could you call me at the hotel?
I really appreciate this, Chuck - your discretion.
So I just got off the phone with Marty
and I've been fired, effective immediately.
I'm to be out of the building by 5pm.
Chuck Lane has been chosen to replace me.
Chuck is not an editor.
He's barely even a writer.
There's no way I'm going to be able to work for him.
-We should have Seen this coming -
the way he laughs whenever Marty tells a joke in the meetings.
They're never funny, but there's Chuck, completely howling.
He's so political.
I mean, how pissy does he get
whenever you try to fact-check one of his pieces?
It's like, "I'm sorry,
"but we have an obligation to get our facts straight."
OK, let's not overdo it.
This is still a great magazine.
It's still an important magazine,
and Monday morning, he's gonna be running it.
I'm gonna barf.
All right, let me get out of here, OK?
Well, I just want to thank you all again, truly.
Um... I have loved every second of this.
Well, good luck, Mike.
You too, Chuck.
DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES
So, er, sorry about what happened when he left.
I just didn't know what to do.
If you need a hand with the boxes, I'll be in my office.
So Chuck took over,
and the job, for the first time ever, began to feel like a job.
But I'm being unfair.
The truth is I wrote 14 pieces while Chuck was editing the magazine
and the last of them was the biggest story I ever wrote.
Is anyone interested in hackers?
Uh, cos I met this kid named Ian Restil -
biggest computer geek of all time.
He hacked his way into the database of a company called Jukt Micronics
and posted naked pictures of women and the salary of every Jukt employee
on Jukt's website
with a note saying, "The big bad bionic boy has been here, baby."
The guys at Jukt decided
it would be cheaper to hire him as a security consultant
than to try to stop him,
so they met with him last week
at the hotel where the national hackers conference was taking place.
It was the chairman from Jukt,
Restil, Restil's mother and Restil's agent.
-Yes, hackers have agents too.
All right, I was at the table with these guys.
Restil's just laying out all of his demands.
-I want a Miata.
-"I want a trip to Disney World."
I want 'X-Men' comic book No. 1.
"I want a lifetime subscription to 'Playboy'..."
And throw in 'Penthouse'.
And they're complying with every single word.
Excuse me, sir. Pardon me for interrupting.
We can arrange more money for you
and you can buy the comic book yourself.
And when you're of a more appropriate age,
you can buy the car and pornographic magazines on your own.
After that, after they have the meeting,
he goes back into the conference
where all these hackers have gathered.
And they're treating him like he's a rock star.
Then, Restil jumps up on a table and he's like...
I want a Miata!
He's gyrating his hips, like this - "I want a Miata!
"I want my 'Playboys!
"I want a trip to Disney World."
-Show me the money!
"Show me the money!"
Turns out there are now 21 states considering
versions of a law called the Uniform Computer Security Act,
which would criminalise immunity deals
between hackers and the companies they've torched.
Meanwhile, Restil's agent claims a client list of over 300,
one of whom was once paid 1 million and a monster truck.
ALL CHUCKLE IN DISBELIEF
It's, er, really silly. I know, um...
I'm not even sure if I'm going to finish it.
Yes, I rang.
Why didn't you get this?
Yeah. Oh... That...
I don't know.
Is it pronounced 'JEWkt' or 'JUHkt'?
It's pronounced 'give me back my article'.
Can you give a man a minute?
-Oh, yeah. I'm sorry.
Uh, it's just that, er,
this 'New Republic' piece is a fuckin' sieve.
I started with a check on Jukt Micronics,
which is supposed to be this major software company in California.
I went through every search engine on the Web -
no matches found.
So I call 411, every area code in the State.
There's no listing anywhere for a company called Jukt Micronics.
Tried the California Tax Franchise Board -
there's no record of taxes ever having been paid
by a company called Jukt Micronics.
Tried the state comptroller's office -
no licence has ever been applied for by a company using that name.
Then I called all the hackers I know,
asking if any had heard of a national assembly of hackers,
or of a hacker by the name of Big Bad Bionic Boy.
Nothing. I even tried Ian Restil himself.
There's no listing for the kid in DC, Virginia, Maryland.
There's no record of him ever having attended a public school before.
Uh...this guy Joe Hiert was described in the Glass piece
as being this former basketball agent,
yet no-one by that name has ever been registered with the NBA,
and none of my hackers knew of him.
I even checked the names of every government...
I was just getting some coffee.
I even checked the names
of every government employee quoted in the piece
against a book listing the names of every government employee
in the entire United States.
None of the Glass sources were listed.
Wait...there is one thing in the story that checks out.
There does appear to be a state in the Union named Nevada.
David! For Christ's sakes.
God, I'm sorry, Stephen.
I just wanted to see if you'd read it yet
and it was sitting right here, you know?
Don't hate me, OK?
Stephen, you shredded it.
I'm trying to spare you a spanking, David.
You've got blind quotes all over the place,
your facts are shaky...
I mean, the line about the turnover at DOT was low by 4.5%.
-Of course you did.
Rob and Aaron would kill you over that kind of stuff.
This is the 'New Republic', remember?
Nothing slides here.
If you don't have it cold, you don't turn it in. Ever.
Look - bring me your notes later and we'll go through it together.
There's a lot about it that I liked.
Now get back to work, OK? That mail room floor needs scrubbing.
OK. Thanks, Stephen.
-You have one unheard message.
Hi, Stephen. This is Adam Penenberg from 'Forbes Digital Tool'.
I just got done reading your hacker article,
and, first of all, congratulations.
Everybody here just loved it.
Uh...but we wanted to do a companion piece to it,
sort of a 'Day Two' story,
and I'm having some trouble tracking down Ian Restil.
Uh...do you think I could get a phone number on him from you?
Look, I think it's good that you tried this.
It's good to stretch.
I don't think you're writing to your strength here.
-OK. Can I...?
I'm wondering why you'd wanna stray
from the sort of things you do so well.
Have you noticed the way Steve's phone has been ringing lately?
Did you see all those editors at the correspondents' dinner?
The way they were circling him?
Is that what you want, Amy?
To get a bunch of smoke blown up your ass by a pack of editors?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Caitlin, he's going to double his salary, freelancing like that.
These guys don't want policy pieces anymore,
they want colour, they want nuance, humour...
..you don't write funny.
It's a little funny...
I was just looking for Steve.
He's in his office.
-You got a minute, Steve?
Do you have phone numbers for all your sources
on the 'Hack Heaven' piece?
-Mm-hm, but they're at home.
-Can I get 'em?
Of course. Um...did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?
No. I just need the phone numbers.
OK...OK, I'm trying to keep cool about all this, but...
..you know the Uniform Computer Security Act?
In the Glass piece?
It was supposed to be under debate in 21 state legislatures.
I just checked all 50. No such act.
And, er, Julie Farthwork from the Computer Security Center?
Not too sure she exists either.
Same with Jim Ghort
of the Center for Interstate Online Investigations.
And I've got nothing on a national assembly of hackers or Frank Juliet.
-Do you know why this is so great?
I mean, do you see the irony here?
The 'New Republic' - snobbiest rag in the business,
the in-flight magazine of 'Air Force One',
and their star goes out
and gets completely snowed by a bunch of hackers!
I mean, God couldn't have written this any better.
Long as I'm grinding away on this thing,
any chance you'd share your byline with me?
We are in uncharted territory here, Adam.
An online magazine going after a giant?
You should have somebody beside you to take some of the flak,
in case this thing blows up.
-You're completely swamped!
I know you're behind on the Kim Palese piece, and it's due Friday.
I'll get to it.
Look, everything that I'm working on is so...
And this is spectacular!
Look, it's not like you found the story yourself!
Kambiz just handed it to you.
If I hadn't been at the dentist, it might be me about to get famous,
so why don't you just share the wealth, OK?
That came out a lot uglier than I meant it.
Well, Ian Restil emailed me right back.
It might be a little tough to put you in touch with him directly, though.
Or at least until next week.
This is his email.
"Your story screwed up my deal. I don't to talk to...to you..."
-I don't wanna talk to you.
"I'm on vacation with my parents, so leave me alone."
What kind of parent goes on vacation with their kid in early May?
That's a good question.
I guess you have to know his mom.
She's a little quirky.
Uh...that's his email address, if you want to write him yourself.
These are all my notes. Um...
That's the number for the national assembly of hackers.
Don't be thrown if all you hear is, like, a dark, deep, heavy breathing.
It's, I don't know, their outgoing voicemail message.
Ah...don't ask me why.
Um, and then that's the number for Jukt Micronics.
The chairman's name is George Sims.
Uh...I can't figure out why this Penenberg guy
would have such a hard time finding it.
You know. Whatever.
Uh, that's the URL to their website,
and then I can't seem to find Joe Hiert's number.
I was looking all over at home and...
..it's somewhere there, I know it is,
so I'll just get that to you tomorrow, if that's OK?
He's Restil's agent.
Should I, er... I'll give you some privacy.
Uh, no, have a seat. 6-5-0...is that Palo Alto?
Uh, no. Silicone Valley.
You'll probably get a voicemail. I usually do.
-You've reached the offices of Jukt Micronics.
Please leave a message.
Hello, it's Charles Lane.
I'm calling from the 'New Republic' magazine in Washington, DC.
I'd like to speak to George Sims, if I could.
They already have our number.
I guess you already have our number. Thank you.
I'm sorry, we've just, like, spoken a million times now.
That's actually his voice on the answering machine.
Sims is so hands-on
that he won't even let his secretary do an outgoing message.
-This is Adam.
-Hi. It's Chuck Lane.
I've got a phone number for you.
A phone number for what?
For George Sims at Jukt Micronics. You got a pen?
Uh, it's a phone number for Jukt Micronics.
-You've reached the offices of Jukt Micronics.
Please leave a message.
Do me a favour.
Call this number the same time I do, OK?
-You've reached the offices of Jukt Micronics.
Please leave a message.
-What did you get?
I get a busy signal. Hang up.
Try again, OK?
-REDIAL TONES BLEEP
I got a voicemail. Hang up.
A major software company with one phone line?
How you doing?
-He's up to 103.
Come here, buddy.
-Should I give him a bath?
-Oh, that would be great.
Yeah. PHONE RINGS
How you doing?
-Hello, this is George Sims.
May I speak with Charles Lane?
One moment, please.
Honey? It's George Sims.
-I'll take him.
Come on, sweetheart.
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
-You're such a good boy.
Yeah, this is George Sims of Jukt Micronics.
May I speak with Charles Lane?
Mr Sims, thank you for calling me back. Um...
I don't have time for this, actually.
We're trying to have an office party.
Look, if you were calling for a comment on your story,
I don't have one,
other than to say I wish you'd never run the stupid thing.
That stuff was supposed to be off the record,
and your reporter knows it... that Glass guy.
I'm just calling to verify some information.
I'm not verifying anything!
Bottom line is I'd like you guys to basically get lost.
-Oh, I'm sorry, Steve.
I didn't mean to startle you, I just thought you'd like a cup of coffee.
-What are you doing here?
-Working late. Working on my article.
So I don't get shredded again.
I always forget to ask you - how are your studies coming?
They're fine. I'm... I'm just buried.
You're buried. Right.
OK. I should probably let you get back to it.
Is there anything else you need?
No. Um...goodnight, David.
'Night. Thanks, Steve.
I got it.
-Chuck? It's Steve.
Hey. Sorry to be calling so late.
..I was just wondering, did you get a call from the Jukt guy?
-Uh, George Sims?
-I did, yeah.
Yeah... I was just sitting here
and I realised that I'd given him your home number
without asking you first, and, um, I wanted to apologise.
Sort of a prick, didn't you think?
I couldn't really tell, because he hung up so fast.
Are you at home, Steve?
-I left a message on your machine.
The Forbes guys wanna talk to us again.
There's a conference call at 9am.
Sure. Sounds like a party.
-OK. 'Night, Chuck.
-See you in the morning.
Want a laugh?
-The website for Jukt Micronics.
Yeah, you might not think so when you see what's on it.
I don't think Mr Sims liked that piece that much.
Yeah, and I found this too on my fridge for some reason.
Ian Restil's agent - Joe Hiert.
I'd like to pause for a moment.
You can't really go into the world of journalism
without first understanding how a piece gets edited
at a place like TNR.
This is the system that Michael Kelly
brought with him from the 'New Yorker' -
a three-day torture test.
If your article's good, the process will only make it better.
If your article's shaky, you're in for a long week.
A story comes in and it goes to a senior editor.
He or she edits it on computer
then calls in the writer, who makes revisions.
Then the piece goes to a second editor
and the writer revises it again.
Then it goes through a fact check, where every fact in the piece -
every date, every title, every place or assertion -
is checked and verified.
Then the piece goes to a copy editor where it is scrutinised once again.
Then it goes to lawyers, who apply their own burdens of proof.
Marty looks at it too.
He's very concerned with any kind of comment the magazine is making.
Then production takes it and lays it out in column inches and type.
Then it goes back on paper, then back to the writer,
back to the copy editor,
back to editor number one and editor number two,
back to the fact checker, back to the writer
and back to production again.
Throughout, those lawyers are reading and rereading,
looking for red flags - anything that feels uncorroborated.
Once they're satisfied, the pages are reprinted and it all happens again.
Every editor, the fact checkers - they all go through it one last time.
Now, most of you will start out as interns somewhere
and interns do a lot of fact checking.
So pay close attention.
There is a hole in the fact-checking system.
A big one.
The facts in most pieces
can be checked against some type of source material.
If an article's on, say, ethanol subsidies,
you could check for discrepancies against the Congressional Record,
trade publications, LexisNexis, footage from C-SPAN.
But on other pieces...
..the only source material available
are the notes provided by the reporter himself.
This doesn't look like a real business card to me.
Yeah, I know. That's the kind of clown this guy is.
He won't even pay to have real cards made.
-My office at 9:00, OK?
A few other people we can't seem to locate -
Julie Farthwork, Frank Juliet and Ian Restil's agent, Joe Hiert.
We called the numbers you gave us, got voicemails for all three,
and the emails were sent back - no address or account closed.
Really? Cos I've emailed them about a million times each.
Hiert's online all day long.
Did you ever call these people and get them directly?
No, I always left messages and spoke to them when they called me back.
And the references in the article to Nevada law-enforcement officials -
was Jim Ghort the only one you spoke to?
-Do you have a phone number for him?
Wait, what was your basis for writing
that Jukt was a big-time software company?
I didn't. That was added by the copy desk.
And was the hackers conference
where you first met the Jukt executives?
No, that part of the article is misleading.
I...I was never in the Restils' home at all.
You weren't in Restil's home with the Jukt executive?
No, I didn't mean to imply that I had been.
Sorry about that. Did the fax come through OK?
Yes, it did.
I think the address must've gotten garbled. We can't find the site.
-OK, you want to read it back to me?
You gave us members.aol.juktn.html.
-Wait, was that an 'M'?
After Jukt, was that an 'M', as in Micronics?
No, it was an 'N'... as in not working.
Sorry about that. I was just rushing.
But I do find myself wondering, Stephen,
why would a major software company
put their website where only AOL members can access it
as opposed to the entire Web?
I have no idea.
I don't have a website, so I don't really know that much about them.
I would trust you guys to know better than me.
OK, looks like...we have the Jukt website up now.
I have to say, Stephen,
this looks very suspicious to me.
Quite frankly, it doesn't look like a real website.
It looks like a site that was created to fool someone.
I don't know much about computers. Could somebody do that?
So easily, in fact, it's incredible.
Hey, do you guys still want that number for Jim Ghort,
cos I just found it in my notes.
All right, 605-84...
Uh...605 - that's not Nevada.
I guess I got him mixed up with another source.
Uh... FLICKS THROUGH PAGES
Sorry about that one.
Oh, you know what it was?
Jim Ghort was actually the guy
who told me about the law-enforcement officials.
Um...I don't know what I was thinking.
Um...I'm gonna have to get you...
Give him the number.
This guy's toast.
All right, Stephen.
In light of all this, how confident are you with this story of yours?
-Are we off the record?
-If you like.
..off the record...
..some of the things that you've brought up...
..the website, the idea that I was always
speaking to these people through voicemail...
..that is, that they were always calling me...
..it didn't seem strange before,
but clearly there are some problems with the story -
you've pointed them out.
One portion of it was structured in a way that...
..I just, well... in light of all this...
..I just...I'm increasingly beginning to believe that I've been duped.
And so we hang up after he's basically
let these guys interrogate me for an hour,
and I go, "Chuck, what happened? I mean, why didn't you back me up?"
He goes, "I'm sorry, Steve,
"I gotta protect the magazine. I mean, I'm the editor."
-He's being such an asshole.
So I'm dead, pretty much.
Yes, this is Kambiz.
Can we have a talk here? Just editor to editor?
Sure. Go ahead.
Completely off the record and really almost human being to human being?
You guys have discovered something that a troubled kid has done,
but I still don't know how you plan to play it.
Chuck, we're not in the business of gotcha journalism here.
I have no interest in embarrassing you or the 'New Republic'.
I'm not worried about me or the magazine - that's fair game.
But there's a kid here who basically just plainly screwed up, big time.
His reporting was sloppy, we know that,
but we're trying to handle it internally at this point,
just as you would.
Listen, we're going to run something...
..along the lines of a trick was pulled
and some very clever hackers managed to create an illusion.
I can't tell you what to print or not to print.
You guys are journalists.
But he could be very hurt by what you guys publish. His career.
Chuck, I understand.
I would hope if I made the mistakes he made,
people would be generous with me.
But...this concerns the very field we cover.
We have to run it.
And when we do, we're gonna need a comment from you.
So given everything that's happened,
how strongly are you gonna stand behind this story?
I'm looking into it.
It's really not that big a deal.
You got fooled by a source. It happens.
We'll print a retraction and that will be that.
Steve, it's not like it's gonna hurt your career.
Of course, if you weren't so distracted by your classes,
maybe this never would have happened.
Yeah, I know. I've really gotta quit. You were right.
Can I speak to you for a minute, Steve?
-Let's do it in private.
We need to take a drive to Bethesda.
-I want to meet Joe Hiert.
I already told you. Nobody knows where he is.
Well, maybe if we go to the hotel
where he met with the Restils and Sims,
someone will remember him or have some clue of how to find him.
Chuck, there were hundreds of people there, OK?
These Forbes guys want to come down on you.
They're highly suspicious about some of the material in that article.
-You know that.
But they're gonna go online with their piece tomorrow.
If we can find Hiert, then I can back 'em off for a day or two, OK?
-OK, I'll get my notes.
We were at this table.
Restil sat here, his mother was on his left.
Hiert... Sorry, his mother was on his right.
Hiert sat there, but then Restil wanted him closer
so he slid his chair over.
Sims sat here, he had a lawyer next to him.
I forget the guy's name. It's in my notes.
Somebody was smoking at this table,
so then Restil's mother insisted that we move to one farther away.
The hacker conference was near here, right?
Yeah, the building next door.
I don't remember from the article.
How many people did you say were at this thing?
Uh...it looked like 100. Might have been 200. It's in my notes.
Yeah, they moved in and out. I mean, most of them were kids.
That doesn't seem credible to me.
All I know is I was here.
All of us were right here.
Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?
Yes, you can.
We're looking into a conference
that was held here a couple Sundays ago.
Computer hackers. Do you remember anything like that?
Are you sure you're in the right building, sir?
-Yes, we're sure.
-Why is that?
The building's closed on Sunday.
All I know is I was here.
The conference was right here.
That's why the Restils only stayed a few minutes, OK?
Because it was such a dumb place to squeeze into.
So they went to a restaurant for dinner
with some of Ian's hacker friends.
People at the dinner - how many?
Um...about 10, I think. Including me.
He didn't even put on a jacket.
-Hiert was there too?
Is it near here?
-Yeah, it's across the street.
-Good, let's cross the street.
You know, I really don't like the way you're treating me, Chuck.
It's like you won't even talk to me.
-This is the place?
I didn't do anything wrong, OK?
I didn't do anything wrong. You saw my notes. Everything was in there.
I got tricked. I got fooled. I'm sorry. What are you being so mad for?
-It was ten people?
They're closed at 3:00 on Sundays.
Yeah, I know.
I know. They almost didn't let us in, OK?
But it was a couple of minutes before 3:00
and Ian looked like he was about ready to cry, and so they said OK.
Go in and ask them yourself, Chuck.
OK, go in and see if they would serve a party that came in at 2:58
and the answer would be yes, because that's when we got here.
The Forbes guys are gonna have all this too
and they're gonna dig through the records at that office building.
OK, I'm sure they have surveillance cameras
and they're gonna check them!
I didn't do anything wrong, Chuck!
I really wish you'd stop saying that!
..come on, anyone can make a mistake.
You know, this is not right, Chuck.
OK, I feel really attacked.
And you're my editor - you're supposed to support me
and you're taking their word against mine?
You're supposed to support me!
-MAN ON RADIO:
-Criticism of the President's programme has been...
Leave it off.
I'm sorry I yelled at you back there.
-Pull the goddamn car over.
There's been so much pressure.
I... Chuck, I didn't mean to get anybody in trouble.
You weren't at the conference.
You know, I had a description of it from so many sources.
I thought I had it solid.
OK, and I wanted the piece to have an eyewitness feel to it, for colour,
so I said I'd been there myself.
And everything we just told the Forbes guys?
Yeah, I am so sorry, Chuck. I just panicked.
If you want me to say that I made it up, I will.
If that'll help you, I'll say it.
I just want you to tell me the truth, Steve.
Can you do that?
All I'm suggesting is that there might be
facets of this that you're not considering.
-Why are you defending him?
-Nobody's defending him, Chuck.
-Of course you're defending him.
-He's a kid.
He doctored his notes, Lew. Just consider that for a second.
He sat down and he handwrote a bunch of phoney quotes
and he handed them in as source material for the fact check.
Doesn't that offend you?
Of course it does.
Well, he also lied to his editor. That's supposed to offend you too.
He's a confused, distraught kid, obviously, Chuck,
so suspend him for a couple of months, but let's not bury him.
There are... also political considerations
to take into account here.
The rest of the staff - the way they feel about him.
I... I already know all that.
What I'm saying is if you fire him, some of these people will leave.
I don't know if we'd still have a magazine at the end of the day.
-Not now, David.
How's he doing?
Well, he's a wreck, of course.
I want him in here, Caitlin.
He's too scared to come in here. He thinks you want to destroy him.
He knows what he did was horrible. He knows how badly he messed up.
The part he's most upset about is lying to you, Chuck.
Because he knows you took it as a sign of disrespect
instead of as a panic move, which is what it was.
Think about the workload he's been carrying.
All this and classes.
He hasn't slept more than two hours in nine months.
So he got a little sloppy and he lied to cover his tracks.
He's sick about it.
Caitlin, the building he described - it doesn't even exist.
He just made it up.
Obviously he needs some help.
-He needs help.
-Just get him in here.
You can't fire him.
I don't think he'll survive.
You don't understand. We're all he has.
You can't fire him, Chuck.
Can you guys excuse us for a minute?
So all the men water down stock, and you know, within...
What are you doing here?
I'm so dead.
I mean, I'm over.
Nobody's ever gonna hire me again, are they?
I was so sloppy trusting my sources like that,
and then lying about it.
And to Chuck, of all people.
I mean, the one guy who's hated me all along.
I'm sure that none of this is personal.
Chuck keeps a list...in his head.
Everybody who's a Michael Kelly person.
A couple of times I said some things I shouldn't have said about you.
So now I'm on it.
That's why he's so set on killing me now.
Well, I have to tell you, Steve, he's within his rights.
The things you did were fireable offences.
I know. I...I'm not saying that they weren't.
I did some terrible, terrible things.
But believe me, Michael, Chuck doesn't care about any of it.
It's my loyalty to you that he's punishing me for.
I'm such an idiot.
Now who's gonna hire me?
Steve, I have to ask you something.
..did you ever cook a piece when I was your boss?
Did you ever lie to me?
The Young Conservatives piece - the mini-bottles.
Was that true?
Chuck, it's David Bach.
Look, I'm really sorry to bother you at night but it seemed important.
It's fine. Is there a problem?
Well, I don't know.
I just off the phone with Stephen.
He sounds horrible.
Did you suspend him, Chuck?
David, what is the problem?
He asked me if I would drive him out to Dulles later tonight.
He said he wasn't sure he'd be safe driving by himself.
I just... I thought I should draw your attention to that.
Did he say where he was going?
Yeah, he said he'd be staying with his family for a while.
That can only be one of two places.
His parents live in Highland Park, right?
Yeah. Or his brother out in Palo Alto.
His brother. At Stanford.
You had your brother pose as George Sims.
The phony recording from Jukt Micronics.
It's a Palo Alto number.
And your brother's a student at Stanford.
-You had him pose as Sims.
-No, Sims is a real guy.
-I've talked to him a million times.
My brother and I aren't even speaking right now.
Stop it. You faked Sims.
You faked the website. You faked all those voicemails.
You've got this totally backward.
Restil, Hiert, Ghort - it's all crap.
I can trace it if you make me. I'll find it all billed to you.
I don't know what you're talking about, OK?
-Those are all real people.
Look at me...
..and say that again.
Those are all real people.
I want you out of here.
I want you out of here. And you can't take anything with you.
There's some files, OK? I have to put them on a disk.
-No, they're mine. Personal stuff.
I don't care.
I know you don't.
-Can I at least shut down my computer?
-Don't touch it!
I'm in the middle of a file, Chuck.
-Back away from the desk.
Leave it, all right? Or I'll call security.
Can I take my Rolodex?
Can I take my law books?
But I'm going to need to have your security key.
I'm not a criminal, Chuck.
I'm not a criminal.
Oh, I heard you.
I said I was sorry.
But you have to go.
STEPHEN: "Bond traders, as a rule, Do not have much time to loaf around.
"And the Wall Street investment house RVL
"takes its work ethic to a particularly..."
"One trader is now testing a hand-held urinal
"normally used by cops on stake-outs..."
"A few days after Mike Tyson was disqualified
"for biting Evander Holyfield,
"I offered half a dozen cop shows my services as a biting expert.
"I'm someone who knows a..."
"The minibar is open
"and empty little bottles of booze are scattered on the carpet."
"It was the monthly gathering
"of the commission to restore the presidency to greatness.
"Patriotic prophets will have a hard time
"holding back this merchandising bonanza as..."
EXCERPTS FROM SEVERAL ARTICLES READ SIMULTANEOUSLY
STEPHEN: Thanks, Gerald. Sorry for the interruption.
-No problem, Steve.
Um, the, um...the thing with George Sims...
The voice that you heard on the telephone...
..that was my brother.
There really is a George Sims.
I've spoken to him a million times.
He just stopped talking to me -
you know, because of the article.
He was so mad about it.
I didn't know what to do.
And the guys from Forbes were putting so much pressure on me, you know?
And you were so mad.
I just thought that if I could get everybody off my back,
OK, for just a day...
Just a day would give me enough time to go and find him.
You can understand that, can't you?
You're fired, Steve.
You've lost your job.
But you can't. I...
Chuck, will you please take me to the airport?
You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to.
But I can't be by myself right now, OK?
I'm, er... I'm afraid of what I'm gonna do.
I can't get there by myself.
I'm not going anywhere with you.
Now, if you feel like you're a danger to yourself,
you can sit down for a few minutes until you feel calm enough to go,
but I am not going anywhere with you.
But I'm afraid that I'm gonna do something, OK?
Did... Did you hear what I said?
It's a hell of a story.
Stop pitching, Steve.
'The Jungle'. 'A Fine Mess'.
'After the Fall'.
'Cheap Suits'. 'Kicked Out'.
'No Free Launch'. 'Ratted Out'.
'State of Nature'. 'Clutch Situation'.
'All Wet'. 'Plotters'.
'Praised be Greenspan'.
'Monica Sells'. 'Hack Heaven'.
What the hell did you do to Steve?
He just called me from his car, hysterical.
I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Ask Chuck."
I fired him, OK!
He's not suspended. Fired.
This wasn't an isolated incident, Caitlin.
He cooked a dozen of them, maybe more.
We have to go through them, you and I -
we have to go through all of them now.
No. The only one was 'Hack Heaven'. He told me that himself.
If he were a stranger to you, a guy you were doing a piece about,
pretend that guy told you he'd only done it once.
Would you take his word for it?
Of course not. You'd dig and you'd bury him.
And you'd be offended if anybody told you not to.
Every one of those pieces was fact-checked.
-They were all...
-So was 'Hack Heaven'!
You're a good reporter.
You've always been such a smart, thorough reporter.
Why can't you be one now?
Because what you're telling me is impossible, Chuck.
-Read them again.
-This is bullshit!
Make sure you go all the way back
because half of them ran when Mike was still here.
That's what this is. Of course.
I mean, what are you gonna do, Chuck?
Pick us off one by one - everybody that was loyal to Mike -
till you have a staff that belongs to you?
Is that the kind of magazine you want to run?
Caitlin, when this thing blows,
there isn't going to be a magazine anymore.
If you want to make this about Mike,
make it about Mike - I don't give a shit.
You can resent me, you can hate me, but come Monday morning,
we're all going to have to answer for what we let happen here.
We're all going to have an apology to make.
Jesus Christ, don't you have any idea how much shit we're about to eat?
Every competitor we ever took a shot at, they're gonna pounce.
And they should. Because we blew it, Caitlin.
He handed us fiction after fiction and we printed them all as fact...
..just because we found him entertaining.
Don't you know that?
-Is everyone in the conference room? MILLER:
You know what could have prevented all this, don't you?
How could you make up characters
if everyone you wrote about had to be photographed?
You know, Stephen, if you wanted to,
you could do these kids a giant favour.
You could write something boring one of these days.
Give them a little less to live up to.
I suppose I could.
I mean, we don't want a bunch of teenagers getting ulcers, do we?
..because I thought I was going to have to explain all this to you.
Well, what do you think of this guy?
Thanks. Thank you.
APPLAUSE FADES SLOWLY
We've read through all the pieces now.
And the entire staff.
And we've come up with a list of those
whose facts and sources we couldn't verify independently.
I know you can't admit guilt of any kind
but I want you to confirm a few titles for me.
We're not prepared to confirm or deny anything at this...
What I'm going to do is this -
I'm going to read to you a list of suspicious titles one by one.
If you raise an objection to a particular title,
we'll fact-check it again in the hope of removing it from the list.
If you remain silent,
we'll assume that piece is fabricated,
either partially or entirely,
and it'll stay on.
Is that clear to everyone?
'Hazardous to Your Mental Health'.
That means it stays on the list of suspicious pieces -
'Don't You DARE'
'State of Nature'.
'Rock the Morons'.
'After the Fall'.
STEPHEN: You have to know Who you're writing for.
And you have to know what you're good at.
I record what people do.
And I find out what moves them, what scares them.
And I write that down.
That way they're the ones telling the story.
And you know what?
Those kind of pieces can win Pulitzers too.
E-mail us at [email protected]
Drama based on the true story of a promising young journalist who is disgraced after being caught fabricating articles.
As an ambitious reporter at The New Republic magazine, Stephen Glass wins praise for his high-profile political scoops. But when the magazine's editor - Glass's mentor - is fired, his work and his methods come under much closer scrutiny.