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Liar Liar Pants on Fire

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Author:
** Private **
03/16/2012 05:15 PM

"This American Life has retracted its episode about working conditions at Foxconn. Apple challenged the veracity of the reporting in the piece when if first ran in January, and in an episode set to air later today, the radio show will confirm that Mike Daisey made up some of the most shocking facts in his story." http://gizmodo.com/5893998/this-american-lifes-damning-foxconn-report-was-mostly-made-up Oops... ...

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Author:
** Private **
03/16/2012 05:22 PM

Without caring either way about this story I did notice the problem was that it says the poisoning happened a 1000 miles away. . On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM, Camer ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/16/2012 05:32 PM

Yeah, presenting performance art as journalism is probably not the best idea. On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 2:14 PM, Camer ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/16/2012 10:08 PM

yep, heard about that on NPR news earlier. Apparently the author said he shouldn't have done it because This American Life is more journalistic that theatric. Gee, ya think? I haven't looked at the specifics, but it seems to me that even in theater, if you are making shocking allegations about specific people or companies, it might fall into the category of this little thing they call slander. I mean, I know This American Life often runs stories about events in people's lives rather than broader social events, but still. They are presented as true. It's disappointing to hear about this kind of  thing, because  if I wanted a show that just made stuff up I already have quite a selection to choose from. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 11:17 AM

I thought this week's show, called retraction, was gripping. Well worth the hour. About as well done a mea culpa as I've ever heard http://www.thisamericanlife.org/ The pauses in the audio are profound. The very last act is the most surprising part. I had never heard of nor listened to TAM before this, but if this retraction is in any way indicative of Ira's work, I may start listening. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 11:37 AM

Start listening. Its been pretty good. Unlike many on the radio, especially in talk/rant radio, Ira Glass has a great deal of integrity. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 12:10 PM

I have not heard it yet but I've listened to the show quite a few times. Usually the stories are fairly personal. But they are presented as true. Not performance art. Real stories that happened to real people. The show's coming up later today, but I'll use the link if I miss it. I have to give NPR credit for treating the retraction as headline news. One thing that seems kind of infuriating is that the inaccuracies are really dumb and hurt the cause Daisey is trying to promote -- presumably worker safety. For example, workers have been injured making Apple products. Just not at *that* factory. Or another thing that got mentioned was that there would not have soldiers at the gate -- does not happen in China. But yes, the inaccuracies make a difference whether the broad strokes of the piece are true or not. On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 8:16 AM, Jerry Milo Johnson <jmiloj@gmail.com>wrote: ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 12:30 PM

It's not an NPR show, so they shouldn't get any credit. Or blame. It is obvious that Daisey thinks of his piece as a performance piece, with plenty of dramatic license, that falls somewhere between Death of a Salesman and Lake Woebegone on the "need for accuracy" spectrum. Plenty of dramatic license in order to move the audience emotionally. (Much like Rush Limbaugh in that respect. Or Michael Moore.). Or as Colbert as so aptly coined, full of "truthiness". It sounds like TAM does actual news, using actual journalistic rules. Which is why this is so a) troubling to TAM, because they were lied to AND they didnt catch it, because they dropped their own follow up rules. b) troubling to listeners, since they expect news, and are now asking "if this one wasnt right, what about that last one". Fun to watch as a person without a dog in the fight. Fun to watch someone doing things they way I think they should be handled. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 12:41 PM

well NPR *broadcast* it so it reflects on them. I heard it on KQED. I'll wait to hear the retraction before commenting further. I think that's essentially the divide though, but TAM isn't really a *news*  show. I remember one segment about one guy renting an apartment when he was 15 in the sixties, and and another about a couple deciding to date other people for a while before they got married, and how they handled discussing this with the people they dated. It's... I guess the category is features, you know, like profiles. Interesting stuff, not news, but the point, is, true. As opposed to either Lake Wogebon or Death of a Salesman, yes. On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 9:30 AM, Jerry Milo Johnson <jmiloj@gmail.com>wrote: ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 01:03 PM

A good comparison, would Faux Snooze ever have done such a retraction, or even admit an error in the first place? ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more ----- -- "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it." - John Stuart Mill, 186

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 01:12 PM

The show is on right now on the local NPR station (http://wamu.org/audio-player/885_1). FWIW its a pretty damning report on how Daisey lied. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more ----- -- Larry C. Lyons web: http://www.lyonsmorris.com/lyons LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/larryclyon

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 07:05 PM

At least he apologized right away when he was confronted instead of dragging it on for day before realizing his wallet was hemorrhaging... yep, heard about that on NPR news earlier. Apparently the author said he shouldn't have done it because This American Life is more journalistic that theatric. Gee, ya think? I haven't looked at the specifics, but it seems to me that even in theater, if you are making shocking allegations about specific people or companies, it might fall into the category of this little thing they call slander. I mean, I know This American Life often runs stories about events in people's lives rather than broader social events, but still. They are presented as true. It's disappointing to hear about this kind of  thing, because  if I wanted a show that just made stuff up I already have quite a selection to choose from. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/17/2012 07:21 PM

yeah  nothing there about insulting word choices, lol... On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM, Eric Roberts < owner@threeravensconsulting.com> wrote: ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----

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Author:
** Private **
03/18/2012 02:15 AM

So, I listened to it and it was a pretty good story. There's actually a rather meaty issue here. A different NPR program (maybe *Fresh Air*?) did a story a couple of months ago about a fact-checking process for a story in which it was not itself involved. Maybe it was for the Nation, not sure. The main part of the story was about a teenage who committed suicide by jumping off a building in Las Vegas. One of the snags the fact-checker hit was the number of strip clubs in Las Vegas at the time. The discrepancy was one the order of one or two, and I tended to agree with the writer that this was a small difference and not important because it was tangential to the main story line. However the liked the sound of fourteen in the sentence better than thirteen, and he was pretty sure it was true even if he couldn't prove how many had been listed in the Las Vegas phone book in 2006. Now we're in a grey area, because "sounds better" is dangerous territory. But if you really can't tell either way, and the story isn't actually about strip clubs, would you kill the story over this? I wouldn't. And by the way, since we're talking about fact-checking, I have not gone back to make sure the discrepancy was 14 vs 13 rather than 26 vs 27. But the gist of the above is correct, for sure. Where the writer lost me was when he changed the time that someone else did something, because it fit his dramatic framework better. I think it had to do with a woman who was from someplace in the South but had actually been in Las Vegas for a while, whereas in his story he had her as newly-arrived. This was not a mistake -- he just thought it sounded better. Sounded better is dangerous territory. I don't actually see what relevance her time in Vegas would have had in this instance, but it possibly could and it's more consequential than 13 vs 14. So. Daisey claims to have talked to a girl who was thirteen, who was with a group of her friends. Apparently he decided that probably she was not the youngest, and there was probably a 12-year-old there. Nuh-uh, even if he was telling the truth about the 13yo, which Ira Glass wound up questioning. But even assuming he was, we're talking about underage workers here, which is a big deal in China as well as in the US. You can't just say one of them was probably 12. You also can't just say, that guy with the damaged hands, I bet he got hurt in an Apple factory, or that you met people who had been poisoned because you think the poisonings were important. That exposure happened a thousand miles away and that's a pretty big discrepancy. You can't just assert that more exposure to toxic chemicals has happened in the factory that you happened to visit unless gee you can prove that, because even in China exposing workers to toxic chemicals is a big deal. You do have to select your facts if you are making a presentation. For instance, I want to cite, tonight, a newspaper article about maybe 17 companies being sued on maybe 27 charges. Since what I am writing isn't about the lawsuit but just uses it as an example, I think I'll probably get all the company names in but only mention the two or three most important charges, and I think that's ok as long as I'm providing a link to the original documents for anyone who really cares to go read up on all the detail if they want to. But in this case my point is: privacy problems exist in mobile applications, here is a lawsuit that was filed over privacy problems against companies x y and z, and also a b and c, etc. I think what Daisey did would be more like saying well these people got sued for supposedly doing this, and oh yeah I saw them do it in another context, so what the lawsuit said must be true. When what he saw really was just somebody playing Angry Birds on an iPhone. In other words, I sympathize with Daisey's desire to make people care about those workers in China, but I think the truth he had to work with would have served his purposes quite well without the exaggeration, and now he has caused people to question whether conditions really are as bad as they really are. Because people can been exposed to toxic chemicals. Just not there. And underage workers do exist, but it's *not* routine. And nobody is standing at the gate with a gun. For all the right reasons he hurt the people he was trying to help. And while there's a grey area he was well past it and into the land of does not exist. And yeah, Jerry is right, the issue totally is truth vs truthiness. ----- Excess quoted text cut - see Original Post for more -----


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