“The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism”

This American Life has retracted an episode entitled “Mr. Daisey And The Apple Factory,” [1. TAL is getting hammered. Here’s a cache of the statement.] after learning that it was “partially fabricated.” Ira Glass:

“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer 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.”

Wow. “Daisey” is Mike Daisey, whose one-man show, “The Agony And Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” describes the time he spent at Foxconn, posing as an American industrialist. [1. Here’s TUAW’s Mike Rose’s review of the show.] This American Life — produced by WBEZ in Chicago and distributed by Public Public International — aired a portion of Daisey’s monolog. That episode, “Mr. Daisey And The Apple Factory,” was the show’s most popular to date. An entire subsequent episode has been dedicated to the retraction.

Meanwhile, Daisey defends himself on his personal site, saying:

“What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic ­- not a theatrical ­- enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.”

I’m floored by this. “The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism.” Really, Mike? Is lying to NPR fact-checkers a “tool of theatre?”

If I make shit up while standing on a stage, and tell you it’s fact, or knowingly permit you to assume its fact, it’s OK. Because I’m standing on a stage. Theatre!

I bet Ira Glass is spitting nails.