I’ve finally watched Shattered Glass and it’s as brilliant as I’d heard. The cast is amazing (and studded with true-crime “vets” like Sarsgaard, Sevigny, future Bundy Luke Kirby, and others); it’s the best thing Christensen’s ever done. The script is extremely smart about showing, not telling…in a film that fundamentally is about telling; it knows it just has to stick as closely as possible to Buzz Bissinger’s legendary original and it’ll be fine. And it gets the whole maddening, compelling thing done in 94 minutes.
But is bad journalism, properly speaking, “true crime”? Do plagiarism and fabrication offend us ethically without sinking to the level of criminality? Or is it fair, even the Stephen Glasses and Ruth Shalits of the world never get hauled into a courtroom, to consider what we too-politely sometimes call “lapses” crimes against the culture? Should reporters be subject to a two-strikes rule a la baseball’s policy on steroids? (Related: Shalit was at it again last fall.) And should reporters ON criminal cases and/or the justice system — and their editors — face harsher consequences for dereliction of fact-checking duty? — SDB
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