Go read that This American Life transcript again. It is superb in its unraveling of Daisey's inventions; in its exploration and explanation of "real" journalistic values and the difference between fact and metaphor ... "I feel like I have the normal worldview" is a line that will live, or deserves to.
That line may well live, but I hope it lives for the right reasons. (Newsflash to Ira Glass: Almost everyone feels like they have the normal worldview.) Here's Mark Oppenheimer in Salon:
I can’t be the only listener who thought this past weekend’s edition of “This American Life,” the public-radio show, was among the most compelling work Ira Glass and his team of producers had ever done.
There's a scapegoat now, so everyone can feel good about This American Life again (and their Apple products too!). Ira Glass held Mike Daisey up for the sacrifice. Look, clearly Daisey made a huge mistake; he reminds me of someone I used to know who told the most amazing stories and was kind of a pathological liar. That's not the point. The point is that multiple sources are now saying Daisey's monologue raises obvious red flags (no pun intended) for anyone who has actually spent time in China. The most damning detail seems to be the one about the factory guards carrying guns. Glass says they fact-checked the story, but that is a glaring unfact to go unchecked.
Glass's indignation toward Daisey seemed largely manufactured to make good radio. I want to listen to the show where someone puts Glass in the hot seat. He said he should have killed the show when they couldn't get in touch with the interpreter. Well why didn't he? Wherefore the lack of judgment, or the going against it?
Here are some things I know:
- Even if it is the "normal worldview" to go see a theatrical monologue and take every word as literal fact, it's the wrong worldview. "Nonfiction" isn't journalism. I mean, really, Ira Glass? It's like In Cold Blood never happened. If you want to do a political expose, don't go to Broadway for material.
- This American Life is theater.