Charles Lane (journalist)

Charles "Chuck" Lane (born 1961) is an American journalist and editor who is an editorial writer for The Washington Post and a regular guest on the Fox News Channel. He was the editor of The New Republic from 1997 to 1999. During his tenure as editor, Lane oversaw, in large part, the work of Stephen Glass, a staff reporter who fabricated significant portions or all of some 41 articles, in one of the largest journalistic fabrication scandals of contemporary American journalism. After the New Republic, Lane went to work for the Post, where, from 2000 to 2009, he covered the Supreme Court of the United States[1][2] and issues related to the criminal justice system and judicial matters. He has since joined the newspaper's editorial page, where he currently works. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[3]

Charles Lane
Born1961 (age 59–60)
EducationHarvard University (AB)
Yale University (MLS)

Early life and educationEdit

Born to a Jewish family[4] in 1961, Lane attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, where he was managing editor of the school newspaper, The Tattler. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies from Harvard University in 1983.[5] As a Knight Fellow, he earned a Master of Legal Studies from Yale Law School in 1997.[6]


Lane is a former foreign correspondent for Newsweek and served as the magazine's Berlin bureau chief. For his coverage in Newsweek of the former Yugoslavia, Lane earned a Citation of Excellence from the Overseas Press Club."[7] That same reporting about the former Yugoslavia[7] was also featured in the book Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff.[citation needed]

The New Republic's owner, Marty Peretz, appointed Lane as editor in 1997 after firing then-editor Michael Kelly. Kelly had published a series of articles that Peretz felt were too critical of President Bill Clinton and his Vice President, Al Gore. Gore had been a student of Peretz's at Harvard, and the two men remained close friends afterwards. Peretz was reported to be upset that Kelly often ignored his demands to write more pro-Gore articles and editorials in the magazine, especially as Gore was embarking on a presidential run of his own, as Clinton's second term was about to end.[8]

In 1998, one of the worst journalistic scandals in contemporary American history arose at The New Republic when fabricated reporting by a staff writer, Stephen Glass, was discovered. Lane fired Glass.[9][10] Peretz, in turn fired Lane, complaining that Lane should have discovered the Glass' fraud earlier. Peretz replaced Lane with Peter Beinart. Lane reportedly learned of his firing from the media before he heard about it from Peretz.[11]

The Glass fabrications constituted "the greatest scandal in the magazine's history and marked a decade of waning influence and mounting financial losses," The New York Times would later report.[12] Explaining why it took so long to catch Glass' fraud, Peretz blamed both Kelly and Lane, who had supervised and edited Glass, for not catching the fraud earlier. Lane, Peretz claimed, ignored obvious warning signs of the fabrication, and then attempted to unfairly lay the blame to his predecessor, Kelly. Peretz angrily said that Lane's alleged inaction "sullied the good name of the New Republic. Peretz subsequently fired Lane."[13] According to an account in the American Prospect, "Lane got the news [of his firing] from a Washington Post reporter who called to inquire about his future plans."[14]

After his firing as editor of the New Republic, Lane became an editorial writer for The Washington Post. Later, Lane covered the Supreme Court for the Post, before then rejoining the Post's editorial board in 2007. During his second stint on the newspaper's editorial board, Lane wrote primarily about fiscal and economic policy [3]

Lane has also taught journalism part-time at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and at Princeton University.[6]

In 2008 Lane published The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction, about the Colfax massacre of 1873 in Louisiana of blacks by white militia, including the murder of surrendered prisoners. He explored its political repercussions during Reconstruction, including the resulting Supreme Court case from United States prosecution of perpetrators, United States v. Cruikshank (1876).[citation needed] The Court ruled that actions of individuals were not covered by constitutional protections and suggested that individuals should seek relief in state courts. But during Reconstruction and for many decades after, rarely was anyone prosecuted, and no one ever convicted, when white men committed offenses against blacks.[citation needed]

In 2009, in an article appearing in the Post entitled "Medical Marijuana Is An Insult to Our Intelligence," Lane belittled a woman named Angel Raich, who was a plaintiff in a Supreme Court case claiming a right to medical marijuana.[15] Lane wrote of Raich that she "might consider a consultation for hypochondria, or perhaps marijuana dependency." The Post subsequently had to print a correction and clarification to the article which disclosed that Raich was "about to undergo an operation to repair her Schwannoma, which is a benign brain tumor." It was also later disclosed that, at the time of Lane's comments, Raich had been facing a "highly risky surgery – surgery that her doctors had originally ruled out because it is too dangerous — because her brain tumor has now become life-threatening."

In 2010, Lane was again the subject of criticism for disparaging comments he made about overweight or obese people in a blog post in the Post he attempted to discredit an Agriculture Department study which concluded that millions of Americans faced hunger or "food insecurity."[16][17] In the blog post, Lane wrote: "Adults are asked if they ever lost weight due to a lack of food money -- but not how much weight, or what they weighed before. In theory, a 300-pound man who lost a pound could count as 'food insecure.'" Lane wrote that "it is a tribute to the abundance of the United States, and to the safety net, public and private," that more Americans were not "food insecure." or didn't have enough to eat.[16]

In 2011, Lane wrote that he hoped that Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was unable to speak as a result of having been shot in the head a few weeks earlier, would speak out against union workers in Wisconsin if she "could speak normally".[18] Lane's statement was criticized by some as exploitative and insensitive. Stephen Bennen commented in the Washington Monthly: "Keep in mind, Charles Lane isn't some Fox News personality. I've seen him publish a variety of worthwhile commentaries in recent years. But reading this, I can't imagine what he was thinking."[19][20][21]

Popular cultureEdit

The 1998 journalism scandal at The New Republic was the subject of the 2003 film Shattered Glass. Lane was portrayed by actor Peter Sarsgaard.[22] Lane himself appears on the commentary on the DVD, alongside writer and director Billy Ray. After the film was released, Lane was interviewed by Terry Gross in an episode of Fresh Air.[23][24]

In 2003, Glass published a biographical novel entitled The Fabulist about his career of journalistic fabrication. A character named "Robert Underwood" was a significant figure in the novel and interpreted as a fictionalized version of Lane. Reviewing the book for The Washington Post, Chris Lehman wrote that the Underwood character "is meant to induce in-the-know readers to think poorly of Charles Lane."[25]

Personal lifeEdit

Lane is married to a German immigrant from the former East Berlin. They have three children.[4]


  1. ^ Lane, Charles. "Full Court Press". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  2. ^ "Washington Post Is Now Chuck Lane's Show". 16 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Charles Lane". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b Charles, Charles (30 May 2017). "Why I shed tears this Memorial Day". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "Charles Lane". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Bio - Charles Lane". Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Crimes of War Project The Book – Contributors". The Crimes of War Project. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  8. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (6 September 1997). "New Republic Editor Dismissed Over Criticism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  9. ^ Penenberg, Adam L. (11 May 1998). "Lies, damn lies and fiction". Forbes.
  10. ^ "The New Republic Was In Trouble Long Before Chris Hughes Bought It". The American Prospect.
  11. ^ Elder, Sean (1 December 1999). "The new kid at the New Republic". Salon. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  12. ^ Rodrick, Stephen (24 January 2011). "Martin Peretz Is Not Sorry. About Anything". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Last, Jonathan V. (30 October 2003). "Stopping Stephen Glass". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  14. ^ Alterman, Eric (18 June 2007). "My Marty Peretz Problem -- And Ours". The American Prospect. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Medical marijuana is an insult to our intelligence". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ a b "Are Americans really 'food insecure'?". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ "Charles Lane, The Washington Post's Unsung Champion Of The Rich And Powerful". Washington City Paper. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Tyranny in Wisconsin, Part 4". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  19. ^ "The Wrong Lane". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  20. ^ "Helpful WaPo Columnist Tells Us What Giffords Would Think About Wisconsin". Wonkette. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  21. ^ "Lost Weekend". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  22. ^ "Shattered Glass (2003) - Cast - IMDb". IMDb, Inc. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Former Editor of 'The New Republic' Charles Lane". Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  24. ^ Gonzalez, Ed. "VIDEODVD Review: Shattered Glass". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  25. ^ Lehmann, Chris (13 May 2003). "Stephen Glass's Novel, More Than Half Empty". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012.

External linksEdit