Shafer was an editor of Jay Forman, a reporter at Slate who wrote an article titled "Monkeyfishing" about a supposed underground sport in which fruit is used to fish for monkeys on an isolated Florida Key. It was exposed as a hoax by the Wall Street Journal. According to Shafer, Forman admitted to him in February 2007 that he had concocted the entire story, that he had never visited the island, and that he was sorry for betraying Slate's trust.
Shafer later wrote: "When Forman [...] turned in a first, flat draft about his Florida Keys adventure, I encouraged him through several rewrites to add more writerly detail to increase the piece's verisimilitude. Forman complied, inventing numerous twists to the tale [...] The lesson I learned isn't to refrain from asking writers for detail but to be skeptical about details that sound too good or that you had to push too hard to get the writer to uncover or that are suspicious simply because any writer worth his salt would have put them in his first draft. All that said, it's almost impossible for an editor to beat a good liar every time out.
Commenting on other journalism scandals in the same article, Shafer wrote that many made-up stories and parts of stories seem to be perpetrated by reporters who don't have the skills to do what they're assigned.
Shafer is by and large a textbook libertarian. In 2000, he explained his vote for the party candidate like this: "I agree with the Libertarian Party platform: much smaller government, much lower taxes, an end to income redistribution, repeal of the drug laws, fewer gun laws, a dismantled welfare state, an end to corporate subsidies, First Amendment absolutism, a scaled-back warfare state. (You get the idea.)"