Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire


The line between journalism and theater is clearly drawn from the podcast. We pay attention to the different morals and ethics at play here; all of which seem to cast a negative light on drama itself. We should not look to Daisy’s mistaken classification but rather to the character flaws he exhibits.

First of all, there are the lies. As Daisey admits later, he had several bad feelings about the story’s popularity and listener audience. Generally, in my own opinion, gut feelings mean something is wrong. Daisey knew he was in the wrong all the while, yet continued to lie. Slowly but surely, the truth exposed Daisey’s fabrications from Cathy’s supposed identity, to the ‘guards’ at Foxconn, the n-Hexane poisoning, range of underage workers, and to the actual number of interviews. One thing I found particularly interesting was that when Ira Glass first questioned Daisy on his motives, he said how he was worried the story would come out, but also knew that the story was some of the best work he ever made.

This is shady. So his reasoning for lying relied on his personal acting pursuit?

Image of Mike Daisey from boston.com. Do you believe the lies? Where is the line between journalism and art?

When Daisey came forward again several days later, he had developed excuses to compensate for his selfish nature. He claimed that he wanted to create awareness for the lack of coverage of working conditions in factories overseas. He stood by his call for humanity, and proceeded to apologize for labeling his play as ‘journalism’. Hearing this, Ira had every right to be angry because the American Life’s reputation had been compromised by Daisey’s actions. And why should Glass believe him now? I truly believe that Daisey should not have played the ‘humanity’ card, as he made it clear earlier that his work was ‘the best he ever made’. I also found Daisey’s tone to be over defensive and hypocritical. Someone who is looking out for factory workers in China should not be so defensive of uncovered lies.

Overall, this case clearly lets us see that art is different than journalism. Journalism is a story, yet it is one that tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is about facts and should be meant to inform the public at large of global and local occurrences. Art, on the other hand, is a story and an expression. It involves personality, fiction, and various interpretations. Art is less widespread, as it employs only neighborhoods of like minded people. In the end, it is evident that Daisey exploited journalism for his own personal benefit.

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5 thoughts on “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”

  1. I agree that journalism should inform people on true facts due to the important stories that are made known through journalists encounters and experiences. But I also believe that journalism can be a art in the sense that there are many different approaches and is not as black and white as it may seem. I think that from journalists experiences they learn how they can most effectively get information across to the listeners. This does not give them the right to lie in any way, but I think that each approach to journalism is unique and personal just like a painter with a blank canvas may approach beginning their painting differently than another artist.

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  2. I completely agree with you in saying that “In the end, it is evident that Daisey exploited journalism for his own personal benefit.” I think it was petty of him to justify his lies in long winded explanations that never really posed the true meaning of what he was saying, I lied. Yet, I hope to give Daisey the benefit of the doubt as he has a background in art (more specifically theater) not journalism. In saying this, I am by no means asserting that Daisey should have not considered the implications of his artistic monologue but rather that he was negligent in making such statements in a medium that is meant to express, as you said, “tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” His influence on the public which was based on lies not only was wrong, but worked both to the detriment of the true story and his mission to make people care about the working conditions in Chinese factories.

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  3. Like Joe, I like how you summarize Daisey’s actions to “[exploit] journalism for his own personal benefit”. Clearly, Daisey knew what he was doing when he went on the air and blatantly lied to Ira Glass. He had to have known it would catch up with him at some point, but he made his decision anyway.
    I guess I don’t know enough about journalism- why is This American Life’s reputation tarnished by publishing Daisey’s original interview given that they found out it was fake and made their listeners aware of that fact? Yes, Daisey blurs the line between Art and Journalism, however I disagree that art is less widespread than journalism. I think that Daisey got so much news coverage because he sensationalized his piece to be a drama rather than a straight recounting of facts.

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  4. Your sentence, “In the end, it is evident that Daisey exploited journalism for his own personal benefit.” I thought was great. For me it speaks to the fact that the whole debate of art vs journalism was yet another instrument used by Mike Daisey to deflect the focus of angry listeners. Working under this context, the idea of art vs journalism is irrelevant to this case. Daisey made that so each time he performed his ‘act’ and never told his audience it was anything but the absolute truth. I think Daisey was extremely unethical in this regard.

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  5. Interesting post. I think you make a great point that, “Overall, this case clearly lets us see that art is different than journalism”. I think Daisey clearly used more art than journalism in this case, but he definitely did use some effective tactics of journalism. He blended them well to make a point, but he should not have lied.

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