The headline for an article on Barbra Streisand's ill-informed attack on a conservative Israeli politician, for instance, was the manufactured word Yental. It would be a reference to both her movie Yentl and the Yiddish word yenta, meaning a gossip who gets into other people's business. (The echo of the grade-school insult mental would also be palpable.)
I'd adjusted quickly both to Weekly style, which was new to me but easy to learn, and Weekly culture, which was pretty similar to what I'd experienced at Cornell — no one dressed up, everyone procrastinated, everyone dated one another, and we all believed we were the center of the world. One of our favorite lunchtime games was, "If you had to cast Washington Weekly: The Movie, who would play whom?" I was invariably "a young Jeff Goldblum." My friend Brian was Matthew Broderick. And Lindsey, though she always hated it, was "Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club."
Even though we had few subscribers compared to other magazines, and most of them were elderly men (an advertiser's least desirable audience), we convinced ourselves that it was the quality of the readers, not their number, that counted. When a reporter from another publication spotted a copy of the Weekly in the Oval Office and commented on it in print, the point was put beyond debate, as far as we were concerned. It wasn't important to be big, if you could be influential, and we were naïve enough to believe we were actually as important as we thought we were.
That belief was enhanced by the impression that we were special; we had been chosen. For a young writer, being hired by the Weekly opened doors; Weekly alumni would hire you to write later for the Times, the Post, or The New Republic. Our combined age was that of Helen Thomas; our combined journalism experience, before coming to the Weekly, that of George Stephanopoulos. Still, we were stars — precocious stars; Franny, Zooey, and Seymour on It's a Wise Child — and that was what mattered. My own star was falling, though: I felt it falling even now.
Excerpted from The Fabulist by Stephen Glass. Copyright © 2003 by Stephen Glass. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.