Mike Daisey and the Truth

Locked and loaded!

Public Radio International’s This American Life last week was forced to retract a story they ran last January that drew heavily on a performance piece by Mike Daisey currently playing off-Broadway in New York.  Ira Glass writes on the website:

I have difficult news. We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China – which we broadcast in January – contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.

The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show. On this week’s episode of This American Life, we will devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey [and] the Apple Factory.”

Daisey lied to me and to This American Lifeproducer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.

We’re horrified to have let something like this onto public radio. Many dedicated reporters and editors – our friends and colleagues – have worked for years to build the reputation for accuracy and integrity that the journalism on public radio enjoys. It’s trusted by so many people for good reason. Our program adheres to the same journalistic standards as the other national shows, and in this case, we did not live up to those standards.

Glass and TAL did the right thing to retract this story and to devote last weekend’s entire show to correcting the record and to conducting a kind of on-air autopsy of what went wrong with TAL’s Daisey’s reporting and TAL’s fact checking.  Continue reading

State legislators want to get the government out of dudes’ lives but up into your ladybusiness

Via Shakesville, a real-life story of the real-life effects of ultrasound laws that “give” women the “right to know” about abortion.  First of all, the effects of the Catholic affiliation of many hospitals in the U.S.:

[B]efore I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly.

So, softly, haltingly, my husband asked about termination. The doctor shot me a glance that said: Are you okay to hear this now? I nodded, clenched my fists and focused on the cowboy boots beneath her scrubs.

She started with an apology, saying that despite being responsible for both my baby’s care and my own, she couldn’t take us to the final stop. The hospital with which she’s affiliated is Catholic and doesn’t allow abortion. It felt like a physical blow to hear that word, abortion, in the context of our much-wanted child. Abortion is a topic that never seemed relevant to me; it was something we read about in the news or talked about politically; it always remained at a safe distance. Yet now its ugly fist was hammering on my chest.

Then, the author’s experience as she was–as it turns out unnecessarily–subjected to Texas’s new ultrasound laws: Continue reading

F.U. resignation op-eds and speeches: dy-no-MITE!

Everyone is talking about Greg Smith’s buh-bye to his former employer, Goldman Sachs, which was published in the New York Times on Wednesday.  Here’s a little flava, for those of you who have been in the wilderness this week without internet or cable teevee:

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

Of course, some people are calling him naive, self-serving, and grandiose–the usual attack-the-messenger allegations of character flaws that are unfurled when people don’t like his message.  Maybe he is naive, self-serving, and grandiose–who cares, if he’s telling the truth?

Have any of you ever engaged in a public resignation of this kind?  Have you ever written a F.U. letter to a former employer, or given a speech on your way out the door?  I did it once– Continue reading


It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy!

In place of paid advertisers, public service announcements now fill some of the time between Rush Limbaugh’s monologues on radio stations, a consequence of an ad boycott against the conservative talk show host that is now nearly two weeks old.

It is, analysts say, the most serious rebellion against “The Rush Limbaugh Show” in the more than 20 years that the show has been broadcast. This week, new evidence emerged that the ad boycott was costing Premiere Radio Networks — the show’s syndicator — money, though the total amounts are unclear. Continue reading

Lysol: America’s most destructive and least effective form of contraception

Let’s take a trip into history, to a world that time and systemic hormone disruptors have forgotten–the world after the Comstock Act and before the legalization of diaphragms and cervical caps and the invention of the Pill.  I will share with you the most interesting thing I learned in co-teaching a course on the History of Sexuality in America last term:  American women were encouraged by the marketing geniuses at Lysol in the middle third of the twentieth century to use Lysol douches for both contraception and personal hygiene. 

I had heard about the Lysol contraceptive douche, but until my colleague lectured on the subject, I had no clue that it was actively promoted for decades in degrading and fearmongering advertisements by the manufacturer.  It was an enlightening moment for me and for the students when my co-teacher explained in her lecture that Lysol was very popular during the Depression, because it was 1) inexpensive, 2) probably something you had already lying around the house, and 3) didn’t require a physician’s assistance (unless it caused internal injuries!)

(Remember:  I am not a modern U.S. historian.  The only thing recommending contraception in my period of expertise, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is perhaps the fact that most were non-toxic, if also as ineffective as Lysol.  The most dangerous “menstrual regulator” available was jumping off of fences or carrying heavy loads of wood, or eating too many juniper berries or drinking too much pennyroyal or squaw mint tea.)   

Nicole Pasulka at Mother Jones, riffing on Andrea Tone’s Devices and Desires,  has assembled a brief history of Lysol’s contraceptive application as well as a slideshow of the advertisements promoting the Lysol douche.  Warning:  this may be offensive and/or induce involuntary buttcheek clenching in women especially.  Clicquez a vos risques!  Continue reading

You’re talking about everybody’s daughters, dumba$$.

This was my first thought when I heard Rush Limbaugh’s repeated prurient insults directed at a private citizen.  It’s interesting to me that Democrats are now articulating this very idea in media appearances–see the clip from syndicated columnist Connie Schultz on Rachel Maddow last night, and now President Obama in his press conference this afternoon.  It’s difficult for a lot of parents of daughters not to see in Sandra Fluke their own daughter, if not now then eventually someday.  As Schultz says, “[Limbaugh] asked for video, Rachel, of this young woman; he called her a slut because she wanted to be responsible about birth control.  They have no idea yet, it seems to me, what’s been unleashed but they’re about to find out.”  (Scroll up to about 5:30 to see Schultz’s interview.)

If my college students are at all representative, many of them were put on the Pill in high school by their parents.  Not all of them, of course, but it’s hardly a remarkable thing any more for a parent of a teenager to do this.  Republicans love their birth control as much as any other Americans.  They also love their daughters as much as other Americans–so who are you calling a slut, again, mister? Continue reading