Stephen Glass' 'Biggest Lie' Isn't What You Think

'Air Mail' profiles disgraced journalist Stephen Glass and a promise to his ailing wife
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2021 12:55 PM CST
A Reformed Liar Agrees to Tell One More Lie
Stephen Glass, in 2003, during an interview with '60 Minutes.'   (AP Photo/CBS News, file)

Stephen Glass is one of the most famous liars in the world. If you've seen the movie Shattered Glass, you know the story: As a young reporter in the 1990s, he fabricated dozens of stories that ran in several publications, mostly the New Republic. Glass, now 49, is a different person now, writes Bill Adair at Air Mail. (Adair knows a thing or two about liars, having founded the PolitiFact fact-checking site.) Glass is a legal assistant for a personal-injury law firm in Los Angeles who makes sure everyone he works with knows all about his past. He has voluntarily paid back money he earned as a journalist to the publications that hired him. And he tells Adair that he doesn't allow himself to lie, ever, even about small things. The profile isn't just about Glass' personal rehabilitation, however. And it explains how Glass had to allow himself to tell a big lie one more time.

This latter lie involves his wife, Julie Hilden, whose early onset Alzheimer's surfaced in 2014 when she was just 46. At Hilden's request—she wanted to live as happy a life as possible—Glass agreed to pretend everything was OK, both at home and to their friends. “I had committed myself to not lying, but now I was engaged in the biggest lie of all with my life partner in my home," he says. Eventually, he had to tell friends, to explain her increasingly erratic behavior, but he kept up the pact with Hilden herself. At one point, for example, she announced she wanted to have a child, but couldn't remember the word "baby." He comforted her with a lie about adopting. Hilden died in 2018, and "Steve’s devotion and care of Julie was the great gift of her life, and, I believe, the great gift of his," says a friend. As he himself says, "She saved my life." (Read the full story.)

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