Fake but accurate

NPR headquarters

Dan Rather Award to NPR’s This American Life for airing a program in January that purported to expose horrendous working conditions at Apple Computer’s Chinese manufacturing affiliate. In fairness to the show, which I listen to often and enjoy, they have retracted the story because of falsehoods by ‘”reporter” Mike Daisey, but there were warning signs uncovered before the show was aired and it should never have been broadcast.

“This American Life” said in its statement that staffers asked Daisey for his interpreter’s contact information while fact-checking the story and he said the cellphone number he had for her didn’t work anymore and he had no way to reach her.

“At that point, we should’ve killed the story,” Glass said in the statement. “But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him.”

Daisey posted on his web site Friday that he stands by his work and that what he does is theater, not journalism.



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4 responses to “Fake but accurate

  1. Anonymous

    It was a terrible decision not to fact check the first story but this is one of the few retractions I’ve ever seen that is meant to draw as much attention to the retraction as it did to the original story.

    I’m not sure what I’ll think by the end but here’s a link to today’s show which is supposed to be entirely devoted to the errors, misrepresentations, and (what I will call) plagiarism (true, but not witnessed by or reported to Mr. Daisey) in the first show.

  2. Anonymous

    Oh dear Lord, two minutes in and I’m already disappointed.

  3. Anonymous

    To their credit, I suppose, they did let the dead air hang while Mike Daisey tried to formulate his replies to their accusations of lying and Daisey’s tone when he finally responds more than convicts him of fabrications. But, I have two complaints.
    1. TAL tried to defend the innate truth of the narrative while saying Daisey lied.
    2. I would have liked TAL to follow up on their reference to Daisey’s monologue based on the James Frey scandal of publishing a false narrative of his time in rehab.

    Foreshadowing: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117931814

    What I take away from this clusterf*ck is that Ira Glass was so moved by this liar’s stage performance that he cancelled his own fact checking system in order to share the “truth” (as Ira says aggrievedly, “I believed you”) of Chinese factory work.

    I haven’t visited China since 1994 but I can say that my impression from that last visit is that China and the Chinese are ecstatic to have these jobs and also that they are fleeting. Already, jobs are fleeing Guangzhou to lower cost areas of the country and from there to lower cost labor in Viet Nam and Cambodia.

    100 years ago the US had worse manufacturing jobs than these but China is just coming into a market economy after 60+ years of state controlled business. I’m not defending their way of doing things, I hope I’m pointing out that the US didn’t do much better during the Industrial Revolution.

    Ira Glass proves that liberals are emotion driven (to the detriment of truth) although he gains some points for prominently admitting his error in this instance (while defending the essential “truth” of the original piece). But only in this instance because it’s not the first time TAL has been caught short of being truthful and unbiased.

    Apologies for the late followup, I had multiple interruptions to my listening of the recording of today’s show.

    Emotion driven policies are the absolutely worst you can enact and they’re a staple of the US Democratic Party.


    -Registered but disgusted Dem. It amuses me to think of the party apparatchiks like Frankie who assume they hold the majority view based on numbers of registered voters. It’s more than a bit like the Catholic Church’s belief in birth control. Millions of people identify as Catholic but ignore the church’s teaching on family planning.

    I’d indentify myself as socially liberal, as long as the State isn’t required to pay for people’s choices, while being fiscally conservative. Does that make me a Libertarian? Mmhmm, perhaps. Will I vote Dem or LIb? Not a chance in Hell.

    I addressed this issue with Frankie while you were on hiatus and his response (paraphrased) was something like “Do you middle roaders believe in anything at all or are you just wishy-washy?”. Nasty.

    That’s great Frank, good strategy to retain constituents and gain new converts. Two thumbs up, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s obvious that the GW Dems love you, so how’s your recruiting drive going?

  4. Anonymous

    How ironic that the show won the Dan Rather award after Dan’s BS story about Bush got him canned from CBS.