In the article, critic Jason Zinoman makes this observation about Daisey’s stories:
It does make one wonder about their veracity. Without a text to work from, it must be tempting to introduce a little white lie here and there: an evocative detail, say, or a new sequence of events to improve the narrative?
A few months later, on January 21, 2007, the same reporter said Daisey’s work embodied “ a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur.”
And in a December 8, 2009 review, Zinoman observed:
Lately Mr. Daisey has become known as a polemicist. And when connecting disparate narratives to make sweeping claims about the way power works, his manner can resemble that other gifted star of the monologue, Glenn Beck.
Certainly nothing there to worry the fact checkers at This American Life.
A Chinese translator in Shenzhen intrinsically knew what Ira Glass and his team forgot, or conveniently ignored: There is a difference between a journalist and a writer—or an entertainer.
The About Us section of the This American Life website says the show consists of “mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.” The problem with that? Passing off as journalism the work of a performance artist with a track record for conflating fact and fiction has inflicted yet another wound on public radio and the journalism industry as a whole.
Correction: This article originally reported that the radio program Marketplace was a Public Radio International show. In fact, Marketplace is produced by American Public Media. The relevant sentence has been corrected. CJR regrets the error.