Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Episode 17: Liars, Honest and Otherwise

Play now!

Remember Mike Daisey? Remember in particular episode #454 of This American Life that caused such an explosion over subsequent accusations that Daisey was not "reporting" truthfully, accusations that manifested ultimately in an almost-unheard-of full episode of Official Denunciation of Mike Daisey by TAL? In Episode 17: Liars, Honest and Otherwise, I revisit the Daisey kerfuffle freshly informed of both reading I've done since that January, 2012 episode originally aired. What was completely ignored was the very recent creation of this supposed cornerstone of reportage: journalistic ethics. Why these ethics have only recently come to being might surprise!

I ran a bit of the Mercury Radio Theater's "War of the Worlds" at the beginning. In doing so, I have a much better idea, I think, about where the design for the slavering aliens in "The Simpsons" comes from.

Later, I play excerpts featuring Daisey. The first comes from Episode #432 of the C-Realm Podcast, "Origin Stories"; the second, Episode #1304 of Studio360, "Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius".

Also in this episode, I quote from Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols, Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, Seven Stories Press, 2002, p. 63-64. Heck, why don't I share exactly what I quoted? I've got space to spare:

"Much of the problem with contemporary journalism is due to the codes of professional journalism that emerged a century ago, and that remain of paramount importance in understanding journalism today. Professional journalism was a revolutionary break with the idea that the journalism of a medium—usually a newspaper at that time—would and should invariably reflect the political viewpoints of the owner. Partisan journalism, the bread and butter of Jefferson, and Lincoln, could only be defended in an environment where there were competitive markets, and a wide range of opinion. In the highly concentrated newspaper markets that emerged by the twentieth century, partisan journalism appeared more like uncontested propaganda than anything else. In this environment, the large newspaper publishers pushed for professionalism. Their journalists would all be trained to be nonpartisan so the matter of who owned all the media and the lack of market competition were now irrelevant. As research has shown repeatedly, however, the professional code 'smuggled in' the political biases of the owners, but made them now appear as non-partisan even, objective truth."

I also quoted from Upton Sinclair's The Brass Check, self-published in 1920. Mr. Sinclair left the rights to The Brass Check open to the public; hence, the online version. Here's what I quoted from that book:

"Thirty years ago, advertising yielded less than half of the earnings of the daily newspapers. Today it yields at least two-thirds. In the larger dailies the receipts from advertisers are several times the receipts from the readers, in some cases constituting ninety percent of the total revenues. As the newspaper expands to eight, twelve, and sixteen pages, while the price sinks to three cents, two cents, one cent, the time comes when the advertisers support the newspaper."

(pp. 264-265.)

Bear in mind that Mr. Sinclair was quoting someone named Prof. Ross, reprinting what Prof. Ross published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1910.

Music for this episode comes first from the incidental music to the cartoon "Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har-Har". No reason. Next, Johnny Ripper's "Jean". I finish with Jahzzar's "Be Nice" backing the close.


  1. I'm getting a "Error: 404 Not Found" when I try to play this episode. Did it get lost somehow?

    1. Damn. It looks like Blogspot re-wrote the link, and of course, misspelled it in the process.

      I better make sure this hasn't happened to all the episodes. Thanks for the heads up!


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