Ira Glass says he hasn't talked to Mike Daisey since 'Retraction' aired


Ira Glass gave his first interview after the Mike Daisey mess to Alison Cuddy the weekend before last. Some of the things he told her (transcription and any errors within are mine, not WBEZ's):

On why "This American Life" did its "Retraction" episode: "I feel like we were in a bad situation that no reporter or anyone wants to get into where, you know, we broadcast something that wasn’t true, and we found it out and we had to retract it, and I feel like we did as well as we were able to in being really straightforward with the audience and explaining how we messed up and how something like that ended up on the air."

On how the show went: "It’s funny, I haven’t heard it since we put it together. ... The conversations with him were painful, I think, for both him and me and I know for people who heard them. … I feel OK about it. I feel like it had to be done some way and we tried to, you know, get through it."

On his relationship with Daisey now: "I mean, we haven’t talked. ... I feel like it’s clear in the show, like, before all this happened, I really liked him and we worked really closely together and in adjusting his performance and adjusting his stage show so it could fit on the radio, so we spent a lot of time together actually putting together the original show, and that’s one of the things that made the whole thing feel so strange. And I haven’t had any contact since then."

On the responsibility of "This American Life" for airing the original show: "To be clear, he did lie to us and to the audience, but it’s our jobs as the journalist to -- you know, lots of people lie to journalists and we’re supposed to catch that and see that those lies don’t make it to the audience. So while what he did wasn’t right, I don’t want to back away from the fact that we are the ones who messed up ultimately and me in particular as the person who made a lot of those decisions."

On the show's relationship years ago with disgraced fabulist Stephen Glass: "Basically the way he ended up on our show is that he would write these really funny amazing pieces of reporting, and like a lot of the public radio shows, it’s, you know, it’s a standard thing on, you know, "All Things Considered" and "Fresh Air," you know, if somebody writes a great article sometimes you’ll have them come in and basically do a cover version, you know, on the radio. … And we did that with him a couple of times, assuming that the articles, because they were in, you know, reputable mainstream magazines, had been properly fact-checked and were truthful. And we learned later that no, none of that was true of all, they were full of whoppers. ... And when the whole thing went down I was one of the people he called to apologize. … That was very, very strange. And we’ve never spoken since."

Previously: This American Life retracts Mike Daisey story about Apple factory in China | Mike Daisey cuts questionable parts from Apple monologue after ‘This American Life’ retraction | 4 important truths about Mike Daisey’s lies & the way ‘This American Life’ told them | The unanswered questions about ‘This American Life’ and journalism | Chicago Public Radio to examine what went wrong with ‘This American Life’ story on Apple | ‘This American Life’ pulls too-good-to-be-true Stephen Glass stories (again)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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