“Truth” is in the eyes of the beholder

We all watch the news and believe everything they tell us. The media would never lie, right? Or are we just expected to take every single thing we hear with a grain of salt? In my opinion, many people are too busy to come up with their own interpretations and would rather just listen to what they hear on the news. But many times, stories are reported through different perspectives and given different twists based off the views of their network. For example, when Fox news airs a story, they tend to take a conservative view whereas MS-NBC leans more to the left. Does that mean that all the facts are really shared? I love to watch Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, but I know that he tries to put a comedic spin on his stories so if I really want to know the facts behind something, I have to do my own research. How different is this than Mike Daisey presenting his show with his own spin?

I believe that there is no difference between art and journalism when it comes to the “truth”. No one can deny if something actually happens, but they don’t necessarily have to report all the facts. Jon Stewart, as a late night personality, cares a lot about telling the truth as well as getting good ratings and being funny. However, he tends to take clips from news reports so that he can spin them however he wants rather than showing the whole report, which would add context and probably a different light. People watch The Daily Show and it is very possible that it is their only news source from the entire day. So why wouldn’t they believe him? People go see Mike Dailey’s show and are emotionally touched and impacted by his words, so why would they ever doubt his accuracy? The difference between art and journalism when it comes to telling the “truth” lies with the beholder; what ever interpretation we choose to believe is what will be true in our minds. One should know that when they are listening to Jon Stewart as their only source of news, that they are hearing a show… if they want the facts from both sides they need to go to a credible news source.

So was Mike Daisey an unethical liar? No, I don’t think he was. As he mentions in his second interview with TAL, he is telling a story that is supposed to evoke emotions in the listeners, and it’s true that his words will have a great impact on people’s interpretations. However, people know that they are going to see a play, it’s a credible news source. I do not think that Daisey was being an unethical liar; he told truths, but spun them in a way that would evoke more emotion in his listeners. It’s true that people were poisoned by hexane in Chinese factories and it’s true that workers are treated poorly, so why can’t Daisey add a little twist to his own experience by adding that? Jon Stewart twists clips and takes things out of context almost every night, and people don’t give him much slack. Daisey’s goal was to tell a story, in a theatrical setting, and shed light on the true life of a Chinese factory worker. He shared (what he claimed to be) his personal experiences, he never said that he did months of research to back up the stories he heard in China. So, in my mind, “truth” is in the eyes of the beholder.


7 thoughts on ““Truth” is in the eyes of the beholder”

  1. Your blog made me reflect on the quality of information I decide to believe or take with a grain of salt. I did not question the When I was younger, NPR was always on in my dad’s car on the drive to school, and I hated it because I never felt like listening to some serious, current-event related topic while I was about to spend the next eight hours in a class room. For this reason, I guess I did not think to question the validity of Daisey’s story on This American Life since it was coming from a legitimate radio source that I believed to be entirely accurate.

    I really enjoyed the way in which you incorporated another example of this situation through the comparison of MSNBC and Fox News. I also strongly agree that people need to take in to consideration the source that they are receiving their information from.


  2. I think you raise a really great point about all of the other kinds of news we watch. While NPR usually goes above and beyond to fact check, most major news companies don’t. There is no way to guarantee anything we see on the news to be completely true or completely false. Mike Daisey’s performance of the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is no different: he is allowed to put his own spin on it.
    I don’t think we should hold him accountable to this lie, which is what I think you’re saying in your post. However I do believe that he should be held accountable for the lie he told to NPR. He wasn’t presenting a story then, but actively claiming to have seen and done things he just flat out hadn’t. If Daisy had gone about things differently, we could have heard his original monologue- knowing that it was exaggerated and dramatized- and still take away the same message. The difference being the truth of how real his performance actually is. Which matters to a lot of people, like Ira Glass.


  3. I think you brought up a good point about the blending of art and journalism. Mike Daisey’s monologue exemplifies how this can cause problems with “truth” when coming from a supposed journalist source. Most “journalism” sources still need to meet viewer quotas and will therefore always be biased towards high-shock value stories. So perhaps it is unfair that the blame is placed solely on Mike Daisey? I also like that you bring up the Jon Stewart who I think, despite running a comedy-based show, is a fairly credible source of information. I’d like to hear what you had in mind when you talk about a “credible news source”.


  4. I believe you bring up a great point about what people want to hear and what they want to believe. Although Daisey does perform a show of his experiences, I believe this is an important manner in which the truth is most important. This excerpt received national attention, simply because it was mostly a lie. In cases that involve life and death (referring to the nets at FOXCONN) I believe it should be a primary focus to report the truth first so we know what really is going on. By doing this we can put more attention on more important stories, instead of spending time on exaggerated experience such as this that never even happened.


  5. I found your post to be very interesting. I hadn’t read a post thus far that supported Mike Daisy and the way he chose to present his story to his audience. Like you mentioned in your post, I do often find myself believing everything I hear on the news, only to go back and question whether or not there was any bias involved later on. I feel like I would need more information about the situation and what Mike Daisy fabricated in order for me to claim that he wasn’t an unethical liar however. The fact that he avoided answering most of Ira’s questions left a great deal about Foxconn and the working conditions unanswered and I can’t say for sure whether or not all of the information in Daisy’s story was pulled from other sources or exaggerated for merely theatrical purposes.


  6. The comparison of Stewart and Daisey is very interesting. What brought it to mind?

    One difference is that the audience of Stewart knows it is watching satire. However, the truth he reveals through comedy, people can be stupid, politicians banal, the media unquestioning transcribers of BS, are truths made visible through satire.

    Here is a clip of Jon Stewart on a “serious” news show, now gone, called Crossfire . I add it because it is interesting to see how people on different side the art/journalism line address questions of truth, purpose, and intentions.


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